|My favorite intimidating character,|
Miranda, from The Devil Wears Prada
(which isn't intimidating to read
at all, by the way)
This week's Top Ten topic made me appreciate all the required reading in high school and college though. I used to grumble that teachers make you read such painful books, but if they hadn't I'd have missed out on a lot of worthwhile literature simply because, on my own, it's too intimidating.
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish blog with a different top ten list theme (all related to books) every Tuesday (see the full list here).
Top 5 Most Intimidating Books I've Read
1. Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis
I put off reading this book (and the rest of its trilogy) for decades, because I'd sampled it briefly while in college and was deeply troubled (being a huge fan of science fiction) that I couldn't wade my way into these books.... yet. I love C.S. Lewis. I admire him even more than Tolkien, and I fully intend to read all of his books (I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the list). These are really amazing books (the ideas and imagery are mindbending), but they aren't light reading, that's for sure.
2. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Not nearly as intimidating as War and Peace, but I hesitated to read this one, intimidated by its length. But I loved the 1997 movie version so much, I finally broke down and started reading it, and was actually surprised by how fast moving it was (yes, there were some slow spots), but an absolutely fantastic book.
3. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
A few years after Hemingway's the Old Man and the Sea made me all kinds of impressed and sad at the same time, I tried my hand at another Hemingway, and this book seriously intimidated me. I was probably too young to get the characters or the story, kind of like I was with the Great Gatsby in high school. But I muddled my way through it.
4. The Stranger, Albert Camus
This isn't a long book, but it was intimidating because the main character is so... unrelatable. The book is famous for being such a vivid and harsh example of existentialism; it was required reading but worthwhile because it is such a landmark in literature.
5. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
I actually picked this one up of my own free will, but after the first chapter I mostly skimmed it, and as a result I don't think I got anything useful out of it at all, which is a shame. Still, not enough of a shame that I've ever been tempted to try to read it again. This is one of those rare cases where Cliff Notes are truly worthwhile.
Top 5 Most intimidating books I haven't read
1. Anything by Charles Dickens
I started to read a Tale of Two Cities once upon a time, and quickly gave up. I know I should try again, and I feel like a total wus for being so intimidated by Dickens, but I am. I just am. It's not entirely rational.
2. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Another one I tried to read once, a long, long time ago and my failure was huge that I've never been brave enough to try again. [later edit: seeing that I adored Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, I might someday give this one a try again. Might.]
3. Anything by Shakespeare
Before you leap across the internet and strangle me, let me defend myself: I did read MacBeth and King Lear in high school, and parts of Romeo and Juliet, and I do love so many quotes from Shakespeare. I could quote him endlessly. I admire him, absolutely. But his work intimidates me, for all of my admiration. I think it's because I've always struggled to read plays.
4. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevksy
I really want to read this book. Seriously, if I die not having read this book, I will be ashamed of myself. I will be a sorry excuse for a human being. But I am so intimidated, and for no good reason. It might be just like Anna Karenina: once I finally open the pages, I'll be swept away. But I haven't been brave enough to open the pages yet.
5. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
I do feel at times I can't call myself a real reader, a serious reader, not having read any Steinbeck other than Of Mice and Men. I'm not sure why, but I'd rather read Edward Gibbon's the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and the collected works of Aristotle and Socrates before this one. It's just that intimidating. Someone tell me just to get over myself and read it.
What's your most intimidating read?