Most Intimidating Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish.  Today’s topic is

TOP TEN MOST INTIMIDATING BOOKS (due to size, content, hype, etc.).

10. Persuasion by Jane Austen | In general, any “manners” book is intimidating to me.  This one is all about waiting, and I actually ended up liking it– though I have never re-read it … or any other Austen book.  (Does that make me a bad English major?  Just wait– there’s a bigger confession on its way.)

9. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling | Sheer numbers, baby.


8. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo | … aaaaaaaand numbers again.  I read the 500-paged abridged version though and thought it was masterful!

7. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder | Essentially a philosophy textbook disguised as a novel.  Still, it was amazing.  Then again, I’m not sure that I could spout back much to you about Aristotle and Plato.  But I trust it’s in my head somewhere!

6. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel | The premise is a little overwhelming: a writer … who meets a taxidermist … who is writing a play about a monkey and a donkey … in the Holocaust.  As I’ve said before, only Yann Martel could pull that off so perfectly.

5. Meditations by Rene Descartes | I love philosophy– maybe because in my OCD hey-day it was a little too dangerous for me.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to understand and follow this work by Descartes … but I loved it.  It was a must-read as research for my novel.

4. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling | After the world fell desperately in love with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, I think we were all a little worried about Jo Rowling’s venture into the adult world.  And let me tell you, although this book has incredible writing, the content matter is harsh and depressing.

3. Exodus by Leon Uris | I can still remember Mrs. Grams promoting this book from the front of my 11th-grade English class.  It was the story of the Jewish nation, and it looked ginormous— which it is, at around 600 pages.  I didn’t choose it for that particular assignment, but I decided I would read it over the summer.  And I did.  Once each summer for the next 3-4 summers.  It’s incredible.

2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck | It’s supposed to be one of his best (though I would argue that East of Eden is his magnum opus), and you’re supposed to like it … and I just didn’t.  At least, at first.  But as I journeyed across the country with Tom Joad, somehow I came to love him.

1. Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien | English geeks everywhere unite around this book.  I knew I was supposed to love it … and again, I didn’t.  And with this one (confession time!), I never did grow to love it.  It was a painful, torturous reading that I only slogged through because it was assigned reading for class.  I never read the second or third books.  After I read a biography of Tolkien, though, I came to a real appreciation for The Lord of the Rings.  And that’s where I remain to this day: appreciative, but not a fan.  Commence hateful comments. 🙂

17 thoughts on “Most Intimidating Books

  1. I was an English major also! I found Don Quixote to be intimidating, although I never read the whole thing. Parts of Leo Tolstoy’s A Confession lead me to a slight obsessive existential meltdown. Nice list! I tried reading the LOTR series a long time ago and couldn’t get through it….perhaps that makes me a bad English major geek? ;]

  2. I found “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell to be intimidating. I haven’t quite finished it up, but at almost 1,500 pages in paperback, it is quite the daunting task.

    As for LOTR, I have made it through the first two. I’d love to be able to read through “Return of the King” but I grew bored with the story of Frodo and Sam. I just didn’t care anymore. I did, however, really enjoy “The Hobbit”.

  3. I loved Harry Potter to bits, and I actually enjoy rereading the books, but The Casual Vacancy was too huge a leap for me. I wasn’t that disappointed, but I didn’t feel it either. Les Miserables meanwhile is just HUGE! Haha! I loved the movie though, even if the Russell Crowe singing was a little weird. Great list 😀

  4. Les Misérables & LOTR are on my list too. I read Casual Vacancy and wasn’t mad about it- it was okay, but a bit dull after HP.

  5. As a Christian poet and writer who’s writing poetry more and more, I’ve been studying, identifying with, and loving Bible poetry but thought I should get to know the plum of Christian poets – Dante. So I did what any Christian poetry nut might do – bought every translation I could find! One contemporary version even came as a 2-volume set of massive footnotes to explain this otherwise slender book, but I’m still daunted by Dante.

  6. I’m with you on Steinbeck – East of Eden trumps Grapes of Wrath for me hands-down. I was angry/grumpy/irritated the whole time reading GoW. Also, I am a ginormous fan of LoTR movies, I’ve owned the books since 6th grade, but have never managed to force myself past midway through The Two Towers. Painful.

    My own entry for this list would include Stephen King’s Dark Tower series – 8 books published over 30 years totaling 4,250 pages. They are obsession-inducing and get inside your brain and take over your whole life. I tore through the 7 books that had been published at the time between October and November 2009. And then I swore off Stephen King for a good long while as I attempted to recover. 🙂

  7. Ooo The Casual Vacancy is a good one. I want to read this, and i’ve heard good things, but something is stopping my from picking it up right away.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s