Ten Books That Were Hard To Read

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Today with Top Ten Tuesdays we discuss books that were hard to read, for whatever the reason. I also just want to add that I suggested this topic so yay! But admittedly, BookRiot did it first. Heh. Anyway. I’m focusing on books that were hard to read due to subject matter, not due to style or difficulty grading.

1. Coconut by Kopano Matlwa

This book, set in South Africa, follows two seemingly different young women: one wealthy, new money, removed from her culture and floating along, wondering about her roots; the other working herself out of poverty, doing her best to rid her of the dregs of her culture. This book was hard to read for me because I have friends like both these girls, and I realise that there is so much in their cultures that I can never try to understand, and I was unsure what I could DO. It is a beautiful book, though.

coconut quote

2. Because We Are by Ted Oswald

Although this was not my first book set in Haiti, it was still very hard for me to read about such young children suffering. I realised again that South Africa could be considered privileged compared to many other countries. The book also made me ANGRY at the way that governments and politics treat their own people.

3. My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

After my exposure earlier this year, I was very tearful and scared of HIV. Reading a book about a teenager and HIV was very hard for me to read without getting anxiety attacks, but it was a gentle and well-done story.

4. Postmortem by Maria Phalime

I think one of the scariest things must be to have devoted a large portion of your life to a certain career and then realising that you are out of love with that career. I was so scared that this book would make medicine even harder for me, but in fact it gave me a lot of insight and made me more realistic.

5. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

I would rather have strong feelings about something than be ambivalent, and incest is one of the few things that I really don’t have much of an opinion about (unless it’s non-consensual of course). I know it’s supposed to be “wrong”, but I really don’t have the desire to dictate people’s romantic/sexual lives to them. My real qualm is the congenital issues of offspring from such relationships. I’ve never had the slightest attraction to a relative and I’ve never known someone who does, so I just… had no understanding of it. The book was really dark for me and hard to read. The whole situation was sad. I do feel that I have some hard-won empathy now, but… I still don’t really have an opinion.

6. In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

I’ve read many accounts of war and genocide, but there was something about this book that made me interminably sad and horrified. Maybe because just before reading it I had been to Vietnam and met a lot of Cambodian students. Maybe because of the way it is witnessed through young Raami’s eyes.

quote in the shadow of the banyan

7. Saving June by Hannah Harrington

To be in Harper’s position… I just can’t.

8. The Garden of Evening  Mists by Tan Twan Eng

This book is so intense. There’s this whole reconciliation between a former Prisoner of War and a Japanese National and it is HEAVY and stunning.

garden of evening mists

9. A Change of Tongue by Antjie Krog

This made me face a lot of questions about my culture and heritage, and it was a difficult journey; but ultimately one that made me more sure of who I am and what I stand for.

10. A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer

I read this for a book report in Grade 8. I thought I could handle it, but it was really painful. Even now thinking about it makes me want to seriously hurt people who hurt children. It is good that I read it, because it gave me a better understanding of child abuse, but it is definitely one of the hardest books I have read.

Have you read any of these books? What makes a book difficult for you to read?

Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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 About a year ago, I read about Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the Southern United States. There is a movie about her, which I couldn’t source, but I remember thinking what a fantastic story it would be to read.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read just such a story, except this one is set in a high school, and is fictional (but historically accurate).

Lies We Tell Ourselves is the story of ten black students who are the first to attend a top-notch all-white school in Virginia. It starts on their first day at the new school, being taunted and spat at and not at all very well-protected by their police escort. Continue reading

Discussing The Giver’s Relevance in GIFs

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South African schools don’t really study The Giver by Lois Lowry as prescribed reading, so I finally read it last weekend. I had been putting it off for years but it is such a quick and easy read that I could read it in an afternoon.

Guys, I had so many thoughts about it afterwards. On GoodReads I gave it a pretty high rating, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO “QUESTION-MARK” OPTION! I have never felt so conflicted about a book before. Okay, maybe once before, in Lord of the Flies, after that whole thing with the rock happened. That was unnecessary.

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I MET MARIA PHALIME! *fangirls*

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This will be quick because I have my Paediatric cases tomorrow and I am far from ready. Last night I had the fantastic opportunity to attend an event hosted by the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, where CityPress editor Ferial Haffajee intereviewed Maria Phalime. In case your memory fails you, Phalime wrote Postmortem: The Doctor Who Walked Away, which I reviewed here.

Phalime was kind enough to offer the Safe Working Hours for Junior Doctors group some tickets to her talk, and I was one of the lucky people to grab one. (If you’re interested in the campaign, we still need more signatures! We hope to reach at least 2000 before taking it to Minister Motsoaledi. The petition is here and the Facebook page here.) Continue reading

TTT: Should I Read More?

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I have a reading idiosyncrazy idiosyncrasy. When some readers really enjoy a book, they tend to devour everything by that author. Me? I STAY AWAY. It hasn’t always been like this – the reason I have read tons of Jodi Picoult and Karen Kingsbury. I think it started in university when I realised I don’t have time to read everything I want to read. So now, when I have read a book that I absolutely adored, I actually willfully stay away from reading another work by the same author. I think partially it is because I don’t want to ruin my experience, but also partially because I want to read as many different voices as possible, and not restrict myself.

so many books

So although today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is “Ten authors I’ve only read one book from but NEED to read more”, I’m asking: SHOULD I read more of these authors? Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts #7

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Linking up with Christine from Bookishly Boisterous for this post (hiiiii! I’ve missed y’all!).

1. I think I’m joining the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril bookish/bloggy event this year. I’ve been considering it for three years and not doing it because I’m a big wuss and also we don’t really go big on Halloween here but… sometimes I like a bit of a thrill. So I think I’ll do Peril the Second, meaning I need to read two books fitting the theme. I want to read The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma and then I need one other suggestion. I’m thinking something YA and not tooooo scary. Suggestions?

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Ten Harry Potter Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

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I’m twisting today’s TTT topic in honour of Harry Potter Month! How’s that for killing two birds with one stone. These are the ten characters from the Harry Potter World that I would want with me on a deserted island. We assume that they don’t have broomsticks with them and that they can’t apparate from the island or transfigure into a sea creature to swim away… because that would just be too easy.

ten hp characters Continue reading