Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists of other bloggers who participate!

top ten tues

September 30: Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read (because difficult of book, subject matter, because it was cringe-worthy.

I’ve got a couple of DNFs on here, but only if I really, really tried to finish the book.

anna karenina

1. Anna Karenina; Leo Tolstoy. I liked parts of this book, but there was far too much of it overall. And it’s just not a happy book.

Atlas Shrugged

2. Atlas Shrugged; Ayn Rand. A book that would have been so much better if the editor took a weed-whacker to it. The message is repeated so many, many times, it’s a bit painful.

cloud atlas

3. Cloud Atlas; David Mitchell. A great book, with the stories split up, so you read the first half of all of them before you can read the end. The effect mimics the interwoven nature of the stories–and the character’s lives–but it’s a little confusing, and hard for the must-know-the-ending fanatics. (I totally cheated and read ahead on one.)


4. Code Name Verity; Elizabeth Wein. Books with tough subject matter, no matter how good they are, never entirely work for me. This is one of those books. You know it’s going to make you sad, and it does.

Crime and Punishment

5. Crime and Punishment; Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I made it through this one, but it was punishment. So far, all the Russian lit I’ve read felt like a rainy, overcast, cold day, when you want to go outside but can’t.

heart of darkness

6. Heart of Darkness; Joseph Conrad. This is one that wasn’t too difficult technically, but was full of characters with such privileged attitudes I wanted to reach through the pages and shake them.

house of leaves

7. House of Leaves; Mark Danielewski. I love this book. But the way the text is written–diagonal, upside down, etc. makes for a slow and difficult read, as you rotate the book, and often have to go back to find something you missed.

Les Mis

8. Les Miserables; Victor Hugo. This is one of those classics everyone is supposed to like, but its sad to happy ratio was about what you’d expect from the title. Not a fun read.


9. Lolita; Vladmir Nabakov. I see what people mean about the writing style–but ideas from books tend to get stuck in my head. And Humbert Humbert’s thoughts were not anything I wanted to remember, so I ended up giving up on him.


10. Ulysses; James Joyce. I think I tried this book at two different times–or maybe three. I figured after all the difficult books for my years of college English, I could get through it. Nope.


About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

4 responses »

  1. lynnsbooks says:

    Yeah, Les Mis is one of those books that I keep putting off but I feel like I should read. One day!
    Lynn 😀

  2. Mari says:

    A lot of the Russian writers here. I don’t blame you, I’ve tried to read Crime and Punishment and didn’t even get halfway until I called it quits. I have managed to read several of Rand’s books, and I agree, Atlas Shrugged could have used a great deal of editing.

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’ve read my share of Russians for various lit classes, and I feel guilty for disparaging a whole country–but I have so far not found a single book I enjoyed.

      I’m not sure it it reflects shorter modern attention spans, or the amount of free time previous generations had–but so many classics would be better if they were shorter, I think.

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