This was another Top Ten Tuesday topic, and this one was pretty hard for me to resist. There have been so many books I’ve forced myself to get through, despite how painful or annoying they were to read. In other cases, there have been books that completely reel me in, but they portray such an intense subject that I’m sometimes emotionally shattered by the end of the story, or they are written so distinctly that it takes a lot of concentration to finish them.
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – So I seem to be one of the few females between the ages of 15 and 25 who never had a vampire phase. Guys, what am I missing? What is the great appeal? Someone persuaded me to buy Twilight when we were in sixth or seventh grade, so it was a little before the movie was announced and the books became the next big thing. The first time I tried to read this, I couldn’t even get through it. I thought that the story moved at a painfully slow pace and wasn’t even written that well. After the first two movies came out and the series was literally all that my thirteen-year-old contemporaries seemed to talk about, I decided to give the book another shot. I was able to finish it and was only excited by it when the action picked up in the last fifty pages or so. Overall, I was just bored by the concept and didn’t care for any of the characters. I haven’t bothered with the rest of the series and have only seen the first movie. I feel like the whole Twilight phenomenon rose and fell in the five years it took to produce the movies, and I find it funny that people seem to have mostly forgotten about it. Then again, I was never into the books, so that feeling may just be me.
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – Oh, this was a rough one. I had such high expectations for it after hearing wonderful things about Eugenides’ writing. Instead of discovering a brilliant, brutally honest coming-of-age novel, I found The Marriage Plot to be overly elitist, pretentious, and unrealistic. The chapters told from Mitchell’s perspective saved me from tossing the book altogether, but my dislike of Madeleine’s character still made this read mostly unenjoyable. The writing style is quite complex, so it was a little difficult to wrap my head around. However, I was very intrigued by the structure of the story and finished the book feeling that it was very much an experimental read for me. I was still greatly disappointed, but I’ve heard that all of Eugenides’ books are quite different, so maybe I’ll give him another chance!
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – This was another book I was expecting to enjoy. While I did like the second half of it, I was seriously considering ditching it about a hundred pages in. The technical flying terms were just too much for me to comprehend and the initial perspective was very off-setting and difficult to read. The friendship between the two main characters was also very difficult to believe. The characters in general just didn’t really appeal to me. I appreciate this book for all of the research that must’ve gone into it, but it was overall just very hard to connect with.
- Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – I actually really liked this book. It was an amazing, epic read with such unique storytelling and it definitely stuck with me. The book appears on this list because it is a hefty read and can take a lot of time if you’re not feeling the story just yet. And I’ll admit that for the first hundred pages or so – when the book was not focused on Elphaba and Galinda – the chapters went by very slowly. But I kept trucking through and found that the story only improved as it went on. It is much easier to read once you reach over a hundred pages!
- Any Jane Austen book – I’ve enjoyed the tiny amount of Austen that I’ve read, but each book is quite a task for me. Between rereading certain sections to get a better understanding of the language and trying to keep track of different characters and their respective personality traits, it can take me anytime between a few months and a year to finish a Jane Austen book. When reading Pride and Prejudice and Emma for the first times, I read from David M. Shapard’s annotated editions, which helped me enjoy the stories a lot more.
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – It seemed like everyone and their mother was raving about this book and when I finally got around to reading it, I finished it feeling…meh? There was nothing too redeeming about it for me, thus it took what felt like forever to complete it. Plus, at that point in my life I was going through a major reading slump and the majority of the books I read weren’t screaming out to me. A lot of the books I read during this time just bored me. Although, I did enjoy Fangirl, so I either read Eleanor & Park at the wrong time or I cared even less than I thought I did about its storyline.
- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler – I spoke about this in an earlier post, but this book was just not enjoyable. It sat by my bed for the longest time before I finally picked it up again this summer and forced myself to get through it. I didn’t like or relate to the two main characters and there was not a very captivating storyline – I finished the book only a few months ago and I don’t even remember much of what happened. The book’s fabricated film culture also extremely turned me off.
What about you? What books were difficult for you to get through, and, when you finally finished them, were they worth the struggle?