Top 10 Tuesday

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 Books That Were Hard For Me To Read.

1. A Farewell to Arms, by the massively overrated, overhyped Ernest Hemingway. So beyond dull and uninvolving. Ever since I reposted that old review from my Angelfire site, some of the most popular search terms turning up my blog have been along the lines of “Hemingway overrated,” “Hemingway boring,” and “I hate Ernest Hemingway.” Stick to short stories, “Papa”! Your beyond-Spartan writing style reads so much better in the short form.

2. Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith. I absolutely loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I finally read it, and thus expected the sequel in all but name to be just as awesome. It was more like watching paint dry. Even a deliberately slower-paced, character-based book needs to be hung on some kind of plot structure! I also raged against Annie’s controlling, God-complex, patronising OB. This guy gave me the creeps.

3. The book which shall not be named. Just thinking about this massively overrated book and all the squeeing hype makes me rage. I gag every time I see/hear yet ANOTHER person squeeing all over this gimmicky crap and declaring it as such a moving, tear-jerking book. Nope, more like watching paint dry as I waited for some type of story arc to take shape. Also, I wasn’t aware foreshadowing now involved outright giving away the ending and important developments. Pardon my language, but fuck that gimmicky narrator and his endless parade of smirking spoilers and bizarre language!

4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was practically unreadable, due to all the slave vernacular. Major writing tip: Do NOT phonetically render accents or vernacular! It’s extremely annoying, distracting, and borderline offensive.

5. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. I’ve loved everything else I’ve read by him, since I discovered him at age eleven in fifth grade, but I had such a hard time slogging through this, one of his most famous novels. Only Part IV was lively and exciting, and then we went right back to a bunch of talking heads and only one recurring character.

6. Das Kapital, by Karl Marx. How can anyone read this all the way through? I have the exact same reaction to what I’ve read of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. Who wants to read a long, boring economic treatise, no matter what kind of economic philosophy it espouses?

7. The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. This was the only book by my next-fave writer I ever found boring and a chore to get through, instead of a joy and delight which sped right by. It’s like he bit off more than he could chew, both in the much longer than usual length and the writing style. I also hated the rather in media res ending, almost like he finally belatedly realised what a monster he’d created and decided to just slay it then and there. The poems and “Three Lives” stories after the main text are FAR more interesting and easier to get through. Some writers are better-suited to short novels than long sagas, and Hesse was one of them.

8. November 1916, by Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, of blessèd memory. I’m glad my favouritest writer lived long enough to finish his massive Red Wheel saga, four historical novels about the course of Russian history in 1914, 1916, and 1917, but damn, if these books aren’t difficult to slog through. I’m down with large ensemble casts, since I use them myself, but there are way too many characters for even me to keep track of. The book is also interrupted by six long research papers, like showing off the massive research he did for these books. Only the last two research papers, the Duma transcripts, are halfway interesting and relate to the actual novel narrative.

However, it was more than worth it to get to the ending, one of the most beautiful, unforgettable endings I’ve ever read: “….You can rarely decide for another that he or she should not do this or that. How can anyone forbid you to love when Christ said that there is nothing higher than love? And he made no exceptions, for love of any kind whatsoever.”

9. Just about anything by the late fraud Beatrice Sparks. I would only recommend her poorly-written crap as a quintessential example of how NOT to write YA, or a book in journal format!

10. Coming Home: A Woman’s Story Of Conversion To Judaism, by Linda Shires. Like watching paint dry. Most boring, off-topic conversion memoir I’ve ever read, and I’ve read quite a few.

5 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday—Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

  1. I haven’t read any of these books, and probably only know of half. I do want to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, so I’ll read the sequel just to see how I respond to it. 🙂 I sure want to know what book is the one you did not name, though. 😉


  2. I didn’t realize there was a sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Oh, well… sounds like one I should skip, anyway.

    “The massively overrated, overhyped Ernest Hemingway”… hahaha! I had to read The Sun Also Rises in high school and I hated it. Hated it.

    Now I’m curious about #3… I’m guessing it’s either The Book Thief or The Fault in Our Stars (neither of which I’ve read yet).


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