It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) but here goes my list of books that intimidate me.
I’m actually slightly loathe to post on this subject as I’m not convinced I should be admitting that certain books “intimidate” me. There are books that I find difficult to get through for one reason or another and books that sit malevolently on my shelves whilst I do my best to avoid them and even more books that I know I’ll never buy but I can’t honestly say that books intimidate me. So I think the nearest I’m going to get to with this is a list of books I feel I “should” but will never actually read. I hope that’s good enough for you.
So, here goes…………….
1. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I’ve tried, I really have. Several times in fact. But I just can’t do it. Maybe my mind is too literal or too simple. Whatever. Gravity’s Rainbow may indeed be, as some people argue, the greatest post-WWII American novel but for me it’s too dense, too scattered, too confusing and, frankly, too post-modern. I don’t get it and I can’t face giving it another go.
2. Ulysses by James Joyce. I’d like to read this. I love the Odyssey and I know that it’s supposed to be great and its fans love it and all that stuff. But, every experience I’ve had with Joyce has been bad and I absolutely detest stream of consciousness writing. So every time I think about reading this, I decide I just can’t do it.
3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Too much symbolism which always irritates me and so many people claim it’s unreadable that I’m totally put off.
4. Remembrance of All Things Past by Marcel Proust. Too long. Too waffly and philosophical. And the whole madeleine thing makes me groan. So sorry, Marcel, it’s not going to be happening.
5. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. Tried it. Didn’t like it. Didn’t cope well with the flip-flopping between realist plot and symbolic allegory. Life is, frankly, too short.
6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It weighs in at approximately 1,300 pages and has become a by-word for books you’ll never finish but, for me, the length is only an issue because of the lack of a central character or plot. Maybe one day………maybe.
7. The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot. I love isolated lines or even sections but there is no way I will ever get through the whole thing. Too many languages - only three of which I have any real chance of making sense of - and just too dense.
8. Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin. Yes, really. The first volume in the series sits on my Kindle and my finger periodically hovers over it but I never quite have the inclination to click on it. I don’t know whether it is the sheer number of characters and sub-plots, the combines length of the volumes or the fact that it’s not yet complete and, let’s face it, he’s not getting any younger and doesn’t appear to have any sense of urgency about him but I can’t see myself getting into this. Actually, if I’m honest, I watched the first few minutes of the first episode of Season 1 on TV but switched it off because I had this weird emotional reaction to some child being pushed out of a window and crippled. Since then, I’ve just been a bit repelled by it all.
9. Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Perversely, I love some of his lesser known works but, for the life of me, I just can’t get past the made up language in Clockwork Orange.
10. 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade. Seriously, who knew that sex could be so boring? Dull, repetitive and meaningless, I gave up very early on. Completely unreadable.
Oh man, we have so many of the same ones on our lists! I actually like the GOT TV show, but the books still intimidate me! Clockwork Orange finally worked for me when I tried it on audio.
I was once mocked on a blog for saying that Moby Dick intimidates me, but it does. I do like your description of "books that sit malevolently on my shelves whilst I do my best to avoid them" - I have some of those as well, lingering long on the TBR lists.
I have read Moby Dick over the past summer of 2013, but I think it was so confusing, for I guess it was good okay; lucky me, that was an exhaustive 583-paged book that took me three and a half months to get it done. It was not unreadable exactly as you think. Very encyclopediaic.
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