On My Bookshelf · Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday ~ TTT Throwback: Most Intimidating Books

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! Don’t forget to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl and join the linkup!


TTT Throwback

(pick a topic we’ve done in the past that you missed out on, or loved so much you’d like to do again!)

I’ve only been doing TTT posts for about a year now, meaning there are over 300 prompts in the TTT backlog which I haven’t done. So, the way I’m writing throwback posts is by going to the earliest Top Ten Tuesday topics, and selecting the earliest prompt which I haven’t already done that sounds like a post I want to write. (I may sometimes skip a topic one week and write it another time, or I might have written a topic too similar to one of the early posts.) At this point, the earliest one that appeals to me at the moment is:

Most Intimidating Books

I have a problem here. I don’t like to admit that I am intimidated by books. However, there are also books that I want to read but haven’t yet for one reason or another that could be chalked up to intimidation. (And there are a few which I might be interested in if they weren’t so intimidating.)

Side note: you will notice a theme with these. You may have seen that Sir Mix-a-lot parody MEME “I like big books and I cannot lie”? Well, that is not me.

1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
It’s long. And non-fiction. I’ve heard great things about it, but it looks like it’ll take me FOREVER to read it…

2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Another long one. In this case it’s fiction, so it should be an easier read. It’s also Gaiman, so I have high hopes on that front, too. But still: long…

3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
More long books! Plus, this one is originally in French (I had a friend in high school who was taking French for her language and read the unabridged French version as a test to herself) and I would much rather watch the musical (on stage, not the sad movie version) than read this book.

4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I told you that you’d see a trend. LONG BOOK. Also, my mom recommended it, and so I feel I need to read it, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for years and hasn’t convinced me to pick it up yet, so I may never do so. But if I don’t read it I’ll feel guilty, which makes me even more intimidated by it, and so it will sit longer, which makes me feel more guilty…

5. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
This one is slightly different. (Though it is still a long book.) I started reading it, and I know my sister and BIL love it. So I wanted to like it. But I found it confusing at the time I read the beginning part. (I may have been multi-tasking too many books at the time, I don’t remember.) And then–I’m forgetting the details but as I remember it–just about everyone dies. I got stalled out on reading it at that point and put the book down. Now, in order to do it justice, I’ll need to pick it back up from the beginning again.

So, the intimidating part for me on this one is that it’s a long book which I already had trouble making sense of once, where I shouldn’t get attached to any of the characters because they die. (And yet I do still plan to read it.)

6. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Long books. With murder and incest and un-likeable characters (because all the ones you like get killed). And politics. Lots of politics. This is intimidating, and is one series I don’t plan to ever get into. (Even more intimidating: if I were to start reading it and actually enjoyed it, I’d end up at the end of the books already written along with the rest of the fans, begging Martin to write faster and please not kill off my favorite characters.)

7. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
Another long series of long books. This one is too intimidating for me to be interested in. (Plus the end of the series was finished by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s death, and I don’t like what I’ve read of Sanderson’s work.)

8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Wow! A book whose length isn’t what intimidates me! For this one it’s the subject matter. I still want to read it–eventually–but I’m not sure how long it will take me to get up the nerve.

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This isn’t a short book, but the length is only my excuse for why this one is intimidating. The real reason is that so many people whose opinions I value love this book. I don’t want to be disappointed–or a disappointment. I want to like it, but have no guarantees that I will, and that’s intimidating too. (Plus, it is long. I have this hardback version, which clocks in at a heavy 520 pages.)

10. Beowulf (author unknown, but translated by Seamus Heaney)
This one isn’t that long, so we’re ending on an exception to my “intimated by big books” trend. The intimidating thing about this one is that it was written down, as near as I can tell, in 975 or so. It has been called the “oldest surviving long poem in Old English” and “one of the most important works of Old English literature”. If that’s not intimidating, I don’t know what is. (Well, okay. Handling the original text would be magnitudes more intimidating than reading a translation. But still.) This one is on my TBR list, but I’ve been saving it for a time when I can properly appreciate it.

What about you? Do you tackle intimidating books right away, or procrastinate them? Do you see certain types of books as challenges?

29 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday ~ TTT Throwback: Most Intimidating Books

  1. You don’t like Sanderson? Wow, I’m going to have to re-evaluate this whole Best Friends Forever Online thing I thought we had going! 😉

    I don’t get intimidated by books. I just don’t like certain things, like non-fiction, so when a book has some of the things I don’t like, I just don’t read it. But I feel like I’ve read enough throughout the years to make the books be intimidated by me and not the other way around 😀

    Whenever you get around to Jane Eyre, I do hope you like it.

    1. LOL, I have also only read one of Sanderson’s works (Steelheart) and I might reconsider my opinion on him if I like a different book of his.

      I like the idea of books being intimidated by us. 😉

      1. Yeah, Steelheart was not the best representation of him. Heck, I couldn’t even finish that trilogy. So that being the case, we can go back to being BFFO’s. I know you were pretty worried about that 😀

        1. Oh good! 😉 So, BFFO, what would you suggest as a good representation of Sanderson? I don’t want to write off an author based only on a single book that even his fans aren’t thrilled with.

          1. Depends on if you want a standalone or a trilogy. Elantris was pretty good and it debut work, so it’s a little rough but it is a standalone.
            The original Mistborn trilogy is probably some of his best stuff and can be read as just a trilogy, even though he’s continuing that particular world.

            Both qualify as Epic Fantasy imo.

          2. Nice! Elantris sounds interesting, so I think I’ll look into that one. I’ll keep in mind that it was a debut novel, though; maybe that will help me from being too critical based on my Steelheart experience.

  2. Ahoy there matey! What a fun list. I have read American Gods (loved it), Les Miserable (unabridged through not in French! and loved it), Mists of Avalon (hated it), The Name of the Wind (loved book one and hated book two), All the Song of Ice and Fire Books (I need more!), Lolita (beautifully written though odd book), and Jane Eyre (awesome as well!). Oh and excerpts of Beowulf both the original and translation. That was enough of that. I will not be reading Robert Jordan cause I have heard things. I am not against reading the Alexander Hamilton Book but am not in any hurry either. And yes to the Bookstooge’s recommendation to give Sanderson another try. He is one of me favourites. Arrr!
    x The Captain

    1. Wow, you’ve read a lot of the books that intimidate me! Good to know your thoughts on them. I’ll ask you the same question I asked the Bookstooge: which of Sanderson’s books would you recommend? 🙂

      1. Well most people start by reading the Mistborn series. The original trilogy as there are subsequent books set in different eras. I am also partial to Elantris and its companion novella (a perfect book). Also love the Rithmatist though only the first book of the series has been written. I will stop there.
        x The Captain

  3. I have tackled the unabridged Les Misérables and it didn’t intimidate me just because of the musical.

    I own War and Peace because a family church friend gave it to me and that one intimidates me.

    1. That’s a good point, I know Les Miz the musical, so the book itself should be something I can manage. War and Peace, though… I’m with you on that one.

  4. So my problem with both Name of the Wind and Song of Ice and Fire is that the authors don’t show much sign of finishing their series off any time soon. I know there’s loads of stuff online about how writers don’t owe readers anything (including Neil Gaiman’s famous “George RR Martin is not your b****” rant) but I think by the time you’ve read such a long book or series of books, you kind of are owed an ending.

    1. That is a huge problem. My thing is that authors should be honest about it. If you’re not going to finish a series, or not sure when you’re going to finish a series, SAY SO. I haven’t gotten any impression of that from the (admittedly small) amount of looking into the end of the G.R.R. Martin series that I’ve done.

  5. I’m so with you for almost all of these! ASoIaF was so daunting to me and I kept putting it off until the tv series first premiered. And I get what you mean about Name of the Wind, the writing style took me a bit to get adjusted to but once I was in, I in it.

    For Sanderson stuff, I suggest checking out his works in the Cosmere (the multi book universe he’s created). I read The first Mistborn series book and then Warbreaker which are good gateway books to his stuff.

    1. Awesome, thanks! I will give Sanderson another try, since so many people point to books OTHER than the one I read as a good example of his work. I guess I chose poorly when I picked that particular book.

      1. No worries! Steelheart is very different from his other books and if you’re more used to reading books with more traditional fantasy feel this one is tricky. But his writing style may not be your thing and that’s okay!

        1. We’ll have to see! The thing that I disliked the most about Steelheart was his portrayal of women, but I don’t know if that was because of the protagonist or his writing style.

          1. I think it was a mix of the protagonist and that it was written a few years back, He’s developed quite a bit as a writer and has since written some of the most fascinating women I’ve ever read.

  6. Les Mis is definitely a challenge! I was only able to read it because I read a little at a time over about six months. But I think I’d watch the musical (stage or movie) again before I’d reread.

    I’ve also read Jane Eyre, recently, and it was long and I wasn’t a huge fan even though I already know the story from watching almost every movie adaptation. The writing just wasn’t what I was expecting, and I guess I kept comparing Rochester to other similar heroes of the time (like Jane Austen’s heroes) and I didn’t like him that much. So complicated. But I’m glad I read it, even if I felt a bit disappointed.

    The best version of Beowulf is definitely Seamus Heaney’s! (Though, I have yet to read Tolkien’s translation. I’m curious how he told the story as well.) I heard so many people complain about Beowulf but I thoroughly enjoyed it when I read it.

    I still need to read American Gods and Name of the Wind as well, but the length of the books intimidates me as well. Hopefully I’ll read Name of the Wind soon, since I actually have a copy of the book now.

    1. I had forgotten that Tolkien translated Beowulf as well. I’m curious about it, but I’m also a little concerned that he might complicate it unnecessarily. Maybe I’ll read his translation after I read Heaney’s.

      We have copies of both American Gods and Name of the Wind. I have no excuse. Some day…

      1. Yeah, I would read Heaney’s translation first because he’s a poet and he makes me sound pretty. I’m curious about Tolkien’s but I agree; he may complicate it. Ha.

        It happens… so many books, not enough time.

  7. Oooh, I’ve read 6 of those and can recommend Bradley, Gaiman, Rothfuss and GRRM. But ugh… ‘Lolita’… It was okay in the start but the second half was a freaking nightmare with the main idiot rambling and rambling too much. And let’s not even talk about the whole creepy relationship. I knew what I was in for, but still… nah.

    And ‘Wheel of Time’ I can recommend if you have A LOT OF TIME and don’t mind fillers and also repetition and lots of aimless wandering around. And also, snappy women characters & men who don’t know how to think straight anymore when women are around 😉 (Don’t read it^^)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.