Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Most Intimidating Books and Summer Lovin' Day 2


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and today's prompt is "top ten most intimidating books." I'm all over it.



A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry, has been praised out the ying-yang. Some of my most trusted blogger friends totally dig this book, but the size and the weighty subject render me skeered. 

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Ugh. War. Confusing premise. Just...yeah. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do it. 

Galatea 2.2, by Richard Powers, is one that came to my attention in grad school. It didn't take me long to add it to my TBR because I love the premise: an outlandish and irresistible project: to train a neural net on a canonical list of Great Books. Through repeated tutorials, the device grows gradually more worldly, until it demands to know its own name, sex, race, and reason for exisiting.


Tammy told me 12 years ago to read A Game of Thrones, and she's been telling me ever since. Now that I have this book on my Nook, the chances of me tackling this chunky monkey have increased about 100-fold.

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, looks and sounds amazing. It's a big one, too, and the hype has put the fear in me a bit. But I'll still read it. Or will I?

Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware is possibly the only graphic novel that really intimidates me. The busy'ness of it is supremely scary to me for some reason.


Messiah, by Gore Vidal, looks great! But it's Gore Vidal!

Sexual Personae, by Camille Paglia, is another one of those books that's been on my shelves for an age and a half. It looks brain bendy. 

The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulker, because we all know William Faulkner's narratives are confusing. They just are. This one gets top billing for most confusing, even though after reading Absolom Absolom, I think I might like it!


Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh, is intimidating for the dialect and the ick factor. 

Ulysses, by James Joyce, is just a pain in the arse. Let's be real. I've tried reading this thing, and I eventually gave my copy away. Addendum: NO I DIDN'T! The frackin' thing is still on the shelves. Maybe not for long. Take that, Joyce!

Which books are most intimating to you? 










I'm also including my Summer Lovin' Read-a-Thon participation post for Day 2--"You're the One That I Want"--here so as not to completely fill up your inboxes and readers.

I did a post on my summer reading a few weeks ago, so here are some favorites from that post and a link to the post proper.




Two of these books count toward my Estella Project reading goals for summer. The Glass Castle and The Sparrow have both been on my stacks for a good long while. It'll be good to get these finished up to see what I think of them.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first book in the Flavia de Luce series, and I've had my eye on it for a long time, too. I'll be reading it through my library's Overdrive e-book collection on my Nook. I have a feeling I'll love this series!

Read the full post HERE

Explore the Summer Lovin' Readathon HERE!

55 comments:

  1. Those books do sound intimidating! I've read A Game of Thrones, but have to admit it's a little hard to get into at first. Loved The Glass Castle too - but I might be the only person in the world who did not like Sweetness ... that little girl was an annoying know it all - lol!

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    1. I think so too. Thanks for the warning about Game of Thrones! Glad to know you liked The Glass Castle. And different strokes for different folks. I've seen a few more reviews from people who didn't love Sweetness. LOL re: annoying know it all.

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  2. hmmm . . . the only one I've heard of is "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie". I idn't know it was part of a series. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

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    1. It is! I think there are maybe five of them now? I love all of the covers and the premise is awesome, so I need to hurry up and get to them!

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  3. Game of Thrones is incredibly intimidating! It made my list too.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not alone on that one! And then everyone talks about how complicated and populated by characters and I'm like, yeah-no.

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  4. I adore Catch-22, but it's one of those books that I didn't really understand well the first time I read it, despite reading it with a class. One of the things that really helped was learning that one character's timeline (Milo's) goes backwards through time, completely unrelated to the timeline of the other characters' timelines. I'm not sure why that helped, because it's just as confusing, but maybe it just helped me to relax and feel my way through it? I've reread it a few times and I no longer have problems with timelines or characters. It's so hilarious, and it's not like a war book at all. And at the end, the tragic parts are in such contrast to the comedy that you feel them so much more, the horror and sadness involved. It's an amazing book. Maybe I should organize a read-a-long, if I was good at that kind of thing. :D

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    1. I will definitely keep that in mind about Catch-22, Amanda. Every little bit of knowledge and preparation helps! lol I'm glad to know you liked it and that it touched you. I'm always looking for that emotional connection to a book.

      Readalong! That's an idea!

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  5. I have A Fine Balance on my list of intimidating books for the same reason as you (although different friend of course!)

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    1. LOL, yes! I saw it on several lists today.

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  6. I thought I'd be lost in Catch-22 as well, but gave it a go in college and ended up loving it. Laughed out loud several times. The Sound and the Fury has been on my nightstand for ages - the FEAR! Even though I have liked all the Faulkner I've read - he just requires so much brain power. The Historian stares at me daily but the length is off-putting. But I will recommend Game of Thrones if you enjoy fantasy and political intrigue. Those giants flew by while I read them. The third book I stayed up all night to finish the last 300 pages. INTENSE.

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    1. I'm so glad to know that, Brooke! Every friend who likes it puts me one step closer to being less chicken.

      I love fantasy and political intrigue, so I know I'll love A Game of Thrones.

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  7. I'm starting to feel a little silly now as I really thought I would be the only person with A Game of Thrones on my list but lots of people seem to have it.

    The Historian is actually pretty good.

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    1. Oh no, you're not alone at all. It's such a commitment! Scary indeed.

      And glad to know you liked The Historian! I love the premise, but the length is daunting.

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  8. I liked The Historian and Game of Thrones (though Martin gets VERY rambly and likes to add extraneous characters all over the place, but whatever...) Ulysses I don't think I've got the constitution for. Can't blame you in the slightest for giving away your copy.

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    1. Yayyy for The Historian and Game of Thrones! The consensus seems to be that they're awesome and I should read them. Ulysses. Not so much.

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  9. Goodluck with the Historian once you read it :)

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    1. Thanks, Melinda! I think I'll be needing a digital copy. Easier on the wrists and handbag-shoulder.

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  10. A Fine Balance...oh my, what a wonderful book. That's one I would totally re-read if I had the time!

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  11. Oh please don't let A Fine Balance intimidate you! It is one of my FAVORITE books and would prob be like my #2 or #3 favorite, except that the ending was disappointing to me. BUT I loved the book soooo much that I recommend it to people even though the ending wasn't my favorite.

    I'm intimidated by looooong books, like anything that's 400+ pages.

    -Rebecca @ Love at First Book

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    1. I'm so glad to know that, Rebecca! I love endorsements from trusted bloggers. And yes to long books. They're such a commitment!

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  12. I agree about Ulysses being pain in the arse!!

    I simply cannot stand certain genres.

    Come, check my Top Ten post!

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  13. A Fine Balance is one of, if not, my favorite book of all time. It may be because I work with Indian's on a daily basis and it really helped me to understand their culture, their strong family ties and sense of home. There are many other reasons why I loved this book. The first 100 pages are back story and seem boring to the point you might want to give up - but after that 100 pages that introduces each character, it flies. Hope you'll tackle it someday!

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    1. I'm loving all these great recommendations of A Fine Balance. I'm feeling better about it all the time. Thank you for the warning about the first 100 pages. If I don't know it going in, I'm more likely to ditch.

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  14. Flavia's pretty easy to love!

    I have The Historian on my list of books to get to. Every fall it is one of the ones I swear I'll read and then I never get to it, and I know the length is the only reason I am in any way "intimidated". The subject matter is right up my alley.

    I remember being really intimidated about reading the Foundation books and was so glad when I finally read them and found out how accessible they really are. Felt that way about Dune as well.

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    1. Awesome re: Flavia!

      I know how you feel, Carl. I think I've promised myself that several times and haven't done it.

      I love it when we tackle those intimidating books. :)

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  15. Ulysses made my list too! I'm reading Catch-22 at some point for a work, which I'm excited about.

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    1. Awesome! In the near future? Let me know. I might need someone to chat with about it.

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  16. I'm intimidated by some of those books too. My husband hated Catch-22 but my son loved it.

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    1. Oooh, those split opinions! It seems like it might be a love or hate book in general.

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  17. Catch-22 was a difficult read for me (just needed to pay more attention) but I really enjoyed it. I think it would be great on audio...but then I just remembered who I was talking to. :P

    I loved The Historian. It is long and I read it before much of the hype (aka pre-book blogging) but it's a great curl-up and get lost type of book.

    Ulysses. Ugh. UGHHHHHHHHH.

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    1. LOL, yeah, I'm not great with the audio. BUT, I do like listening to classics that way. It was the ONLY way I got through On the Road.

      Love getting lost! Yay for The Historian!

      And yeah. Lots of uggghhh.

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  18. I have seen The Historian a few times already today. I loved that book so much but yes it is a big book and it will not be for everyone that is for sure.

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    1. I think I'll like it for the premise, but the size is always daunting. Big books are so hard to carry around!

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  19. Ugh. I read The Sound and the Fury. You're not missing anything.

    The Historian is horrible. Don't read it. You will hate it. I mean, it's about Dracula, and academia, and history, and blood, and mystery, and all kinds of horrible stuff like that. (This is reverse psychology. Is it working????)

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    1. LOL, good to know!

      You convinced me re: The Historian.

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  20. I was thinking of reading Game of Thrones (the whole series) this summer, but I don't know if I'll get around to it. Besides, I like to read big fantasy series all in one go, so I might wait until all the books are published. :)

    The Historian is one I read years ago. I liked it well enough, but I don't think I'd ever reread it.

    And Ulysses? It frightens me.

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    1. That "reading the whole Game of Thrones series" idea makes me tired!!! But if you could do it, you'd be my hero.

      Ulysses is so damn scary. Although, since you're reading The Odyssey, maybe less scary?

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  21. Ulysses made my list too, ugh! Game of Thrones did too actually. I read Catch-22 years ago and I loved it, but it's been a long time.

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    1. LOL, great minds!

      Glad to hear it re: Catch-22. I need to tryyyy.

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  22. As I said to Heather, I could never narrow down the list of books that intimidate me to 10 or even 100. I sort of wonder if deep down I'm actually intimidated by every book until I actually read it. :P
    And I've read none of the books on your list so I can make no personal reassurances, but my daughter read The Historian several years back and loved it! LOL--I just went an looked on her old blog to see when she'd read it. Here's the last paragraph of her review-->"This book was phenomenal. It was packed full of horror, ancient lore, culture, romance...anything you'd want in a classic vampire story! Any fans of Gothic literature CAN'T miss this book!" She wrote that at age 11, so you are officially not to be intimidated by it any longer. :P (I'm still allowed, however.)

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    1. WOW, I'm impressed that your daughter read and reviewed this way when she was 11! Holy cannoli!

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  23. Andi I'm not familiar with the books you recommended but will be checking them out.

    Here's myDay 2 Participation Post for the Summer Lovin Read-a-thon.

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    1. I hope you find something that looks interesting, Angelica!

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  24. I think summer is the perfect time for me to jump back into the Flavia series! I have only read the first two so far. Thanks for the reminder - I hope you enjoy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie!

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    1. You're most welcome! Can't wait to read Sweetness and get acquainted with Flavia!

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  25. Read A Game of Thrones. Seriously. You liked Outlander and this is a thousand times better. ;) Also, read The Historian this autumn. Such a good fall read. Glad you loved Crimson Petal as I did.

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    1. Ok, ok, you convinced me re: Game of Thrones. And I'll definitely be picking up The Historian in the fall.

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  26. Game of Thrones intimidates me too. Mostly because of the hype and, well, the size of the thing. My flat mate is loving it though so I might be persuaded to read them soon. And Joyce? That dude bored me all through uni. Give that copy away!

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    1. Yes! yes and yes! Hype + length = super scary. Definitely giving away the Joyce.

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  27. Oh man, The Historian is fantabulous!! I read it in less than a week and had to physically restrain myself from devouring it even faster. I'd highly recommend it for this fall's R.I.P. challenge.

    Intimidating books...hmm. I'd agree with Joyce - never tried him and am rather scared to! On my shelves, I'm probably most scared of nonfiction classics that I feel like I SHOULD read to, you know, be a Well-Rounded Person. Like, Wealth of Nations and The Condition of the Working Class in England. Yipes.

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    1. So glad to hear you loved The Historian. And less than a week? WHOA! I've done that with Outlander, but it's the only super long book I've ever gulped down that fast.

      And yes! Great point about non-fiction classics. Sadly, I usually avoid them completely because I'm so scared of them.

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  28. Okay, here's my advice - don't read Game of Thrones until the whole series is done. Because the cliffhangers are killer. But it is honestly one of the best series I've ever read.

    You haven't been tempted into A Fine Balance yet? It was good enough that I've read it twice, and I'm not usually one for re-reading.

    Ulysses is just bad. I did make it all the way through, and I don't even have a sense of accomplishment. Blech.

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