Bookishness, Getting to know me

Top Ten Intimidating Reads

I am hitting such a slow patch with reading! I guess it is all part of working on this degree and achieving my 25 Before 25. There are way too many books on my TBR list, but a few of them I fear I may never read, because they are so intimidating. This week’s TTT is about those intimidating books.

Books That Are Too Big

books lie1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – there are people who constantly quote from this book, and it sounded like a worthwhile read until I saw how thick it was. And then I tried the first few pages and it just did not flow. I can force myself to read a classic when I think it is justified and it will not take toooo much time, but I just cannot waste valuable reading time on something that is this massive AND tough to read.

2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – I watched the film and found it thoroughly confusing. When I finally figured out what was going on I knew I had to read it. Incidentally it was also the book I saw most people read on the subways in Japan and Singapore, which was interesting. I actually WANT to read this (as opposed to Atlas Shrugged) but because I know that it is a mentally taxing book, I don’t know when I would have time to devote attention to it.

Books That Are Too Freaky

3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

4. The Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay – for some reason, I do better with books than their visual interpretations. For example, while I quite enjoy Kathy Reichs’ novels, the Bones series rattled me completely. So while my friends watch the series, I want to read the books… but I am averse to nightmares.

Famous Books

I really want to read these, but I am afraid that they won’t live up to my expectations. I almost feel like I would rather keep the fantasy of world-changing books alive than read them and think… “Meh.”

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – this is one of those books that you are supposed to read in high school, but our curriculum just missed it. I am scared that without the guidance of my favourite English teachers it will suck. There are so many books – Lord of the Flies and An Episode of Sparrows, for example – that I doubt I would have loved without the gentle guidance of my high school teachers.

6. Anything by Zakes Mda – an iconic South African writer. I admit I am a little afraid that I won’t “get” it.

7. Anything by Jim Butcher – I don’t always do well with Sci-Fi, although his premises sound so good.

8. Anything by Terry Pratchett – as above. Also, the way people talk about his books kind of remind me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I kind of have a love-hate relationship with that book.

Books By Favourite Authors

9. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – I devoured his first two books and have recommended them to anyone willing to listen. I am afraid of ruining this author’s image in my mind. I am also weary of the fact that this new book is more historic, compared to the other two modern-day novels. It could be amazing like The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani… or it could not.

10. Philida by Andre P. Brink – this South African author writes incredibly good fiction based on truth. Unfortunately, this novel sounds a lot like Pieternella: Daughter of Eva by Dalene Matthee, who also writes excellent historical fiction but just didn’t do it for me in this novel.

I realise that a lot of my reasons for being intimidated by these books come down to fear or judging an author based on the mistakes of OTHER authors. Well. Nobody ever said intimidation had to be rational.

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24 thoughts on “Top Ten Intimidating Reads”

  1. Ah, the famous books bit. When books or anything for that matter become too overrated, you start to doubt whether people are liking it because it’s a trend to do so or if it really IS worth the hype.

  2. I felt the same about The Great Gatsby, having read it for the first time a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed it a lot. I had the same sort of worries about not fully appreciating the book, but it’s easy to research it online and look over the themes/motifs etc. if you want to make sure you’re not missing anything 🙂

  3. It was really interesting to read your list and the way you split it into different categories.
    One book on your list that I can comment on is Cloud Atlas. I had to read it for my degree, and I can honestly say I had no idea what was going on from page to page – so if you ever try it, I hope you have a better time with it than I did.
    Your not alone in not doing well with sci-fi!!

  4. I haven’t read any of those books, but a few of them are on my list too. I think you should just read the books with an open mind and not worry about what you will think about it. You never know what will come of your experience reading.

    1. Thanks! I agree. I also find that it is easier to enjoy a scary book when you give yourself permission to stop reading if it’s not fun. Took me a while to do that, but it is liberating.

  5. Great list, and I love your reader cat graphic. My cat is more of a philistine. And I too am both excited and intimidated to read Hosseini’s new book, but I’m at number 1300 on the library hold list, so it’ll be a while before I get to read it either way!

    Contrary to the commenter above, I really liked Cloud Atlas and didn’t find it confusing once I got into it. It’s far less confusing than the movie, since the movie jumps from era to era quickly, whereas in the book it’s not quite like that. When I saw the film, I wondered whether I’d have gotten into it if I hadn’t read the book already.

    1. Philistine cat? Sounds awesome! I don’t think I have ever been that high up on a library hold list… I don’t even think our library has that many members! I would rather just buy or borrow the book elsewhere!
      Thanks for the tips on Cloud Atlas!

  6. I just read The Great Gatsby this year for the first time at 31 and I have to say, it was only just okay for me. But then again, English teachers never really helped me love novels either so even if I’d studied it in school, I might not have enjoyed it!

    I’ve read a couple of Jim Butcher novels and enjoyed them but I found that they don’t stick in my mind all that much. Even now I sort of forget what really happened in them lol.

    1. The way you describe Butcher reminds me ever MORE of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to those books you “HAVE” to read, so hopefully I will have a better experience with Gatsby than you did. I may just read it when I am in my hometown so I can get some free lessons from my old English teachers 😛

  7. ooh yes I want to read A Clockwork Orange but I know I’ll have to get used to the language! Unsure if I could comprehend it, ha.

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