I will say when I first came across this topic, I had no idea where to begin. Where these supposed to be books I read and liked, or books I read and didn’t like, or even books that I hadn’t started yet because they were so intimidating? I figured I could do a little mix of everything and still have it work again.
Once again, Top 5 Tuesdays are brought to you by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, and you should certainly check her blog out if you’ve got even a passing interest in books. (And if you’re here, I’m assuming you do!)
A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin [Read/Liked]
When you first look at this series, it seems incredible intimidating. The books are hundreds of pages long, sometimes reaching into the thousand-page mark, and it seems like everyone and their grandmother has already read this series, or they’ve at least watched it on HBO. I will admit I’ve seen the first season of the TV show, but I never watched anything beyond that. I do keep up-to-date with show spoilers, though, because otherwise I’d never know the difference between the books and the show (I’m just not interested in the show for whatever reason…probably too much genitalia).
Once you start reading the books, though, you discover that, while yes, they are really long and yes, there are a TON of characters to keep track of, the books are just so well-written that you’ll want to read the entire thing without stopping. It also helps that there are enough resources online to help make your reading easy. Just don’t expect it to be like the show if you’ve already watched that; this is WAY better.
Ulysses by James Joyce [Read/Disliked]
Last spring, I took a class on James Joyce as a required part of my grad school curriculum. I’m not very proud to say that I hated every second of the class. We did read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man before diving straight into Ulysses, but that didn’t help at all. Ulysses is a behemoth of a book; you can probably use it as a lethal weapon if you were attacked and happened to have it with you! But what earns it a spot on the “intimidating” list is the fact that you have to have a second book that’s just full of footnotes to fully understand the book. Yes, you read that right: there’s an entire second volume (written by a professor) that annotates the book, because if we were just to include footnotes in the book itself, it would be three times as hefty as it already is and would probably be deemed dangerous to one’s health.
The book is written in a constant stream-of-consciousness, switching between two characters. And while Bloom’s part of the book is relatively easy to read (but, alas, still difficult to understand), Stephen’s part of the book is so dense as to be unreadable. And don’t even get me started on the last chapter that deals with Molly, Bloom’s wife. Even the head of the English department referred to this book as “Joyce utterly destroying the novel.” If you’re a superfan, like the professor who taught the Joyce class is, I’m sure you’ll understand the book and even want to participate in Bloomsday.
Me, however? I’ve read the book (and the SparkNotes, and the Annotations, etc…) and I will be happy to never look upon this book again. I’m going to mount it on the wall like a hunting trophy. “You see that? I read it. All of it. I did my time.”
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt [Read/Ambivalent]
I picked up this book during a sale when I worked at the bookstore, simply because a friend had given me Tartt’s The Secret History as a secret Santa present a few months before, and I had enjoyed that. It took me almost a year to actually read through this book. I started it a few times and put it down because it was so hefty, and I couldn’t get into the story or care about the characters. (Fun fact: I was reading this while teaching a bunch of kids during summer 2016, and one of them saw the book and said, “Are you reading the Bible?!” because it’s such a big book.)
I will say I’m not alone in the struggle to read this book. There’s a whole article in The Guardian about how 55% of people didn’t even finish The Goldfinch, according to eReader stats. Is this because it’s bad writing, even though it won the Pulitzer Prize? There’s no telling. I will say I struggled through the book. While there were parts that were interesting, there were also parts that seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the novel. There were parts I could have done without, and there were parts that I wanted more explanation about, but I feel like that’s the same with any book.
It does tell a good story, so if you’re interested in that, I’d say go ahead. Otherwise, I would say it’s safe for you to skip this. It’s also really, really heavy, and you could probably crush an actual goldfinch with this novel if you threw it at them.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo [Reading/Liking]
I’m currently finally working my way through this novel (I haven’t been able to finish it as fast as I want to because of required reading for school). I will say I didn’t pick it up for the longest time because it intimidated me. You couldn’t scroll through the WordPress Reader without seeing at least three people reviewing this book. It seemed to be the book of the year last year (at least to me, because that’s when I joined the book blogosphere), and that honestly intimidated me. What if I picked it up and, despite the wonderful praising reviews, absolutely hated it?
I’m happy to say that’s not the case. I avoided this book for so long (over eight months!) because I didn’t want to be disappointed. I feel like that’s a pretty valid reason to allow yourself to be intimidated by a book, but it’s not a reason that should last for eight freaking months. Just go ahead and pick up the book. And you know what? If you’re disappointed by it, at least you’ve gone ahead and figure that out, and haven’t drawn on the hype for so long that it’s soul-crushing.
Fyre by Angie Sage [Unread]
Okay, so I know I just spent a whole paragraph telling people to not their anxiety over a book being a disappointment keep them from reading the book. But here we go, with a book that is five years old and that I bought the day it came out, that has sat on my shelf since that fateful day because I can’t bring myself to read it. It’s the final book in the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage, which is one of my favorite series, ever. I’ve mentioned this book briefly in a previous T5T, when we talked about books that have been on our TBR list the longest. I am ashamed to say that I still have not read this book.
I’ve got this problem with a lot of series, though. I don’t want to bring myself to read the last book in the series, because then it is over. There may never be anything else released by that author pertaining to that world again. That is why Fyre still sits on the shelf, unread.
I keep telling myself that I will reread all six previous books and then I will finally get to read Fyre, but every time I restart the series, something happens, I get derailed for a few months, and by the time I pick up book four or five, I’ve already forgotten everything and have to start over again. It’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps when I graduate, that’s going to be my first mission: read every single book from start to finish and review the whole frekain’ series in a special seven-part run on this blog. That’s my goal for this one now! Look for it…probably sometime in July, heh.
I think I got a pretty good mix of things in there! I’ve got three I’ve read, one I’m reading, and one I am still waiting on reading because I’m a scaredy-cat.
How do you feel about my choices? Do you think they’re intimidating, or am I just being ridiculous (particularly pertaining to Fyre)? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, keep reading.