Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature of The Broke and the Bookish. A full list of instructions and future themes can be found here. This week’s theme is Top Ten Most Intimidating Books (might be intimated by size, content, that everyone else loves it but you are sure you won’t, etc.).
1. Das Kapital, by Karl Heinrich Marx.
Marx has been one of my heroes since I was 15 years old and became a proud Marxist-Socialist. But this book was a big fat DNF for me, both times I tried to read it that year (1995). The second time, I got up to page 80 before calling it quits. It’s not the length, it’s the boredom factor. The language is so dry, and it’s just not about a very lively topic. I was relieved to learn many fellow Marxists haven’t had the patience or interest to slog through the whole thing either.
2. The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith.
Opposite side of the above coin, just as long, dry, and boring. Also, I don’t like Adam Smith as a person, and I’m not exactly a huge fan of capitalism.
3. The Aeneid, by Virgil.
This was required reading in my English AP class my senior year of high school. I didn’t even read all of it till near the end of the year, when it was getting near the time to turn in our books and I felt I ought to plug through the rest of it while I still had it. It actually really picks up as it gets closer to the end, but there was still a whole lot of boredom on the way to getting there. Also, Aeneas is kind of a jerk, and I disliked how he was written as supposedly so perfect and larger than life.
4. The Iliad, by Homer.
My parents made me read this the summer before my senior year, since they either assumed we’d be reading it anyway, or wanted to give me background for The Odyssey (which I totally loved). I think it was the former reason. Maybe it was a bad translation, but this was just really slow-going and boring for me. I never even finished it, and gave up about two chapters before the end. Someday I’d like to try again with a more modern translation.
5. The Lord of the Rings
I tried and failed twice to read The Hobbit at my family’s pressure. Why would I even want to tackle something that’s like five-six times longer? I’ve heard there are many long, boring, pointless passages and songs. High, epic fantasy just isn’t my thing, though I did enjoy the films.
6. Jane Eyre
I chose this as my novel for the novels unit in my seventh grade English 8H class. I got up to Chapter 35 before I could finally take no more, but I pulled an 82 on the test by choosing the essay section to count for my primary credit. The topic was on how Jane was an early feminist. Not interested in trying to revisit this exercise in boredom as an adult. Plus, I’m still squicked-out at how Mr. Rochester is old enough to be Jane’s dad. Gross.
7. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Another DNF, not interested in attempting to try again. The slave vernacular was almost unreadable, and the moral preachiness and extremist characters were too much for me. Real people are composed of shades of grey. I also was annoyed at Mrs. Stowe’s frequently-asserted assumption that all her readers were Christians.
8. Mein Kampf
I actually brought this book home from a visit to Pennsylvania some years back, from my dad’s old stash of books at my paternal grandma’s house. Obviously I only took it for the historical value, not because I’m interested in reading a bunch of anti-Semitic ranting. At one point I had it on a shelf with several Herman Wouk books, as a kind of posthumous jeer at the author, may his name be erased.
9. The Prince, by Niccolò Macchiavelli.
I was actually supposed to read this for at least one class I took in the past, but I never did more than skim through it. It’s just so dull, not the kind of thing I’d voluntarily read about.
10. Anything novel-length by Ernest Hemingway!
Overrated dullard with beyond-Spartan prose and really chauvinistic views towards women.