Three toughest books I’ve ever read

1. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

This novel was meant to look like a medieval document, and I must say the author, Umberto Eco, succeeded. Like, very well. That’s really impressive, but it does make this book at times hard to read. Eternal descriptions of a church, or endless discussions on ‘did Jesus laugh or not?’ are a great part of this book. Plus: people are killed, and you’d better be not too sensitive for the vivid descriptions of the corpses. But overall the story is interesting, a decent thriller. You would never guess the ending! And that’s what keeps you going. So if you know how to skip or read quickly over certain parts in a book and you like thrillers, then go for it. I never regretted reading this, not at all. And when you say you have read this, you will immediately gain the respect of those who know this book. It’s like becoming a part of the Elite That’s Read This Book. All you need is some stamina. Good luck!

2. Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky

As someone studying Russian, this is real blasphemy. This semester (but actually that means three months) I had to read ten Russian books. Translated, yes. But still. I started with this one, and set a deadline for when I had to finish it. But it was a struggle to finish these 600 pages… The perseverance was gone after this. The initial idea of this book is very interesting though: a student kills a woman, a pawnbroker, so that he can continue his studies and his mother and sister will have a better life. But he starts to feel guilty… Very interesting, but to fill such a giant book with just this? It ends up being like this: guy kills two women, gets away, fever, fever, talking about God, fever, God, God, guilt, sister, fever, punishment.
I was so glad when I finished this book… If you are more like me and like stories that are to the point, I’d suggest you read Father and Sons. That was a good Russian book, one of my favourites so far.

3. We didn’t mean to go to sea – Someone who should be forbidden to write

I had to read this book for my English class, and after that I had to resume it in three minutes. The point is, how are you going to resume a book in which nothing happens? Here’s what happens: a few children, overly attached to their parents, end up on a boat, and o lord, there are no adults around when the boat leaves, and o god, they’re heading for the sea… But they promised not to go there! O my! So they sail on… And on… And on… O look, a cat, floating on the sea! And they sail on… And on… And on… Until someone they knows enters the boat and brings them home.
Such a happy end.
So little happens that I was totally focusing on talking for three minutes, and then I even forgot about the cat… I never found out what grade I got for this assignment, but I hope it was a good one ’cause I read this damn dull book ’till the end.

Luckily there are still good books as well, and what gift is better for a poor, bored student than a free book? So thanks again to Michael Cargill for helping me retaining my sanity. Though I had read these stories before, I was still pleasantly surprised by how good they are. Recommend much!


What tough books have you read? Were they worth it?

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  1. Your summing up of book 3 made me laugh and being told to read ten Russian books would make my head explode.

    I had actually forgotten that you’d already read the three stories in that book I sent you. Glad to hear you still enjoyed them and thank you very much for a spot of promotion!

  2. I’ve heard you can’t understand Shakespeare unil you’ve read him in the original Klingon.
    A lot of the tougher books i’ve read are older (pre 1950s) studies of the American Civil War. I get very grumpy when authors use a $2 word when a 50 cent one would work just as well.

    • Ahhh yes, that pisses me off as well. It’s like they want to look smart so badly they just end up being unable to understand.

  3. I liked Crime and Punishment, don’t judge me – I have my reasons. Although I like another Dostoyevski book, but I won’t tell you which.
    Wait til you read Tolstoy’s War and Peace. NOW that is a HUGE book.

    • I won’t judge you! It’s not my cup of tea, but if it’s yours – great, cheers to that. Come on, tell me, maybe I’ll like that one more!
      And for War and Peace I’m too weak. I can’t handle that. There’s a limit… 😉

  4. runningonsober

     /  July 17, 2013

    Gone With the Wind and the first Game of Thrones book would’ve been tougher had I not first seen the movie (or show, in Thrones’ case). Although subsequent Thrones books were easier, once I understood all the characters. But they die a lot too, ha.

    I always heard James Joyce was probably the most difficult to read; he’s mentioned even more often than Tolstoy.

    Nice to find your blog via Guap!
    ~ Christy

    • Hey, glad to see you here!
      Yeah, Joyce, with that stream of consciousness… Great experiment, but oh my, it must be really hard to read that. It’s on my list of books I don’t have the guts for.
      Hehe, Thrones does have this reputation of really killing the darlings hm? 😉

  5. I can’t believe you read those books! They sound so hard! I haven’t even heard of the first one and the last one. I’m glad Michael’s book is good! I’ll have to give that one a read for sure!

    • No one has heard of the last one… With a reason!
      There’s a film of the first one and I believed it was quite famous (but not very good). If youlike history and abbeys, you will like it I think!

  6. (All rigt, it’s a really old post, but still…) … I have heard of the last one… and what is more, somehow I love it. (That will be because unlike other books I have read at the time the kids pictured in there had no superpowers and and generally seemed relatively realistic. And sailing seemed fascinating at the time.)
    (I have read my last line again and now I am thinkig hard… I actually love fantasy books.)

    • It’s not unlikely that I didn’t like it because I had to read it and talk about in front of the class. Also, I was 17 or something. It came at the wrong moment and in the wrong circumstances, so that didn’t help 😉


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