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Difficult Books (1 Viewer)

Akumu

Senior Member
Simply put, what's the most difficult book you've ever read?

I'd have to say Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. It's brain candy, all right. It took me ages to read it, and I had to be so focused it was unbelievable. It really exhausts you, but for some reason, you can't put it down!

If you haven't read this book, be sure to do so, however, do it over the summer or winter when you have vacation. You won't be able to concentrate on anything except the book itself once you start reading it. Even on the streets, I was making connections in my head, trying to understand all the data piled up in that paperback.

The Name of the Rose by the same author was a bit easier, although the full-page Latin paragraphs with no footnotes can get irritating and frustrating after a while. The good thing about it is that you don't have to be as concentrated as when reading Foucalult's Pendulum and it has a more linear plotline. Well, at least it has a plotline unlike Foucault's Pendulum...
 

BlackHoleEnvy

Senior Member
Any of Joyce's later ramblings.
Burroughs' opium nightmares and his cut-up fiction.
A Clockwork Orange, simply because of all the obscure slang.
Letters to Wendy's, which was only hard to read becaues I was laughing so hard and I couldn't see through the tears of unbridled joy.

Hmm...and anything by Pynchon, because I don't like him.
 

kerpoe

Senior Member
my most difficult reads must have been ALL of burroughs opium induced writings, brilliant yet utterly obscure! by god they are odd.
 

BlackHoleEnvy

Senior Member
Indeed. Naked Lunch, in particular, invokes a sort of Lovecraftian horror. Don't ever read it while you are...ahem...intoxicated.
 

Ham

Senior Member
Any of the postmodern prestige novelists. Pynchon. Gaddis. Wallace. Like that.

All are writers of enormous doorstopper novels that are so filled with literary pyrotechnics that simply "reading" them is a waste of your time. They need to be studied, or you're virtually guaranteed to miss 90% of the authorial intent, no matter how literate you are. To write my senior thesis on Pynchon years ago, I had to read Gravity's Rainbow and V. about three times each, together with about 3000 pages of literary criticism and analysis, and a shelf-full of related texts on, for example, the history of modern art. The stuff of literary nightmares.


Interpreted another way, I could say I find stuff like Grisham and Clancy to be not merely difficult reading, but borderline impossible. In this case because I'd rather run my hand through a woodchipper than suffer them.
 

BlackHoleEnvy

Senior Member
Agreed on Grisham and Clancy. Though I feel the same about the idea of having to read something by the "postmoder prestige novelists". For different reasons, but the result is the same: the urge to cause oneself bodily harm.

[rock the minimalists]
 

Ham

Senior Member
BlackHoleEnvy said:
Agreed on Grisham and Clancy. Though I feel the same about the idea of having to read something by the "postmoder prestige novelists". For different reasons, but the result is the same: the urge to cause oneself bodily harm.

[rock the minimalists]

I'd certainly be up for some bodily harm if forced to go through it all again. But I figured it was a literary experience that was worth going through. And what the hell, it was school. I had to do something, and this was better than Econ. The real tweaker is that you can't possibly know exactly how big a pain in the ass these sorts of books are until you've tossed away a couple years of your life on them.
 

Hakeem

Senior Member
Well, I don't know about you guys, but I found Grisham's very easy to be read, well maybe I'm too smart or "A Painted House" is too easy, I say the latter fits more...
 

BlackHoleEnvy

Senior Member
Hakeem said:
Well, I don't know about you guys, but I found Grisham's very easy to be read, well maybe I'm too smart or "A Painted House" is too easy, I say the latter fits more...

Grisham is hard to read because he sucks, not because he is challenging.
 
F

fleakeepr

BlackHoleEnvy said:
Indeed. Naked Lunch, in particular, invokes a sort of Lovecraftian horror. Don't ever read it while you are...ahem...intoxicated.

Amen to that. Lovecraft can really get you going if you're a little messed up at the time. Some difficult books I've read must be The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Clockwork Orange was also difficult. Bankok 8 by....gah...can't remember. But that was difficult because it was written in the present tense, and I can't seem to get into a book that is, and he uses a lot of Thai in his writing. And its just a pain to go look up words on the internet every minute. Some Dickens books are very tough because it is sometimes hard to follow what he is saying. Sometimes I have to reread and reread a paragraph just to understand it.
 

BlackHoleEnvy

Senior Member
Lovecraft had a strange effect on me when I first read him in High School. There was nothing apparently scary about the stories as I read them. But when I put them down and fumbled around the house in the dark, alone, at night...I realized that I was freaked out in a very vague way. No other writer has ever had this effect on me.
 

brockDXD

Senior Member
The Origin Of Species and Descent of Man by Charles Darwin.

I believe in the introduction it stated that it was not written to be read like a book, it was to be scientifical and thesis like. Well that was not enough of a warning. there should have been a huge

CAUTION: YOUR EYES WILL BLEED AND BRAIN MAY MALFUNCTION IF YOU TRY TO READ THIS LIKE IT IS JUST ANOTHER BOOK IN THE DARK TOWER SERIES...

Definetly the hardest thing ive tried to read. Also found any book we read in school difficult, but maybe solely for the reason it was not reading for pleasure. Books i have tried to read for pleasure but found difficult was King Lear (not a book but u get my drift..), and Lolita by that Vladimer Krushcock or something like that. Just could not get into it.
 

Aeryn

Senior Member
Well, i've found that The Eye of the World books are hard to read. Not because they are difficult on their own but because there are so many! When you get to book 10 it's hard to remember the names of certain people or who did what. Drives me crazy.

Most people take notes when they read the series. I'm too lazy for that. =]
 
U

_underscore

brockDXD about darwins Origin of Species, id have to say I knocked that off in about a week, then again, I get biology text books for christmas.

As for novels id say I stuggeled to a absurd degree with Updike, starting with "The Coup". James Joyce is always a author that demands rereading, I remember reading a quote of his where he bassicly said the only way to be remembered is to put enough mysterys and elusive text in his writtings to give literary proffesors something to go over for years and years. Although "A Portait of the Artist as a Young Man" isnt to difficult and a joy to read.
 

barnsturm

Senior Member
Milton's Paradise Lost
Dante's Inferno - best literary translator is Mark Musa, most readable is John Ciardi, but it's like letting Tom Clancy re-edit War and Peace for you.
Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before: it was overlong and I'm sure I missed the point, even though I loved Focault's Pendulum and The Name of The Rose.
Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls: I don't know why. I love Hemingway. I flew through The Sun Also Rises. I've reread In Our Time. But I have never been able to finish FWtBT.
 
Paradise Lost is difficult, but I found it dreadfully boring. The story is a basic concept of good vs evil, and he incorporates basic symbolism with excellent word choice. Paradise Lost is a vocabulary builder, not a decent read.

Shakespeare is brilliant especially if you read a sparknote after each chapter, since some of the Old English doesn't translate properly.
 
C

crzywriter

i have two.

the first is tolstoy's war and peace. man, if you aren't ready for a torturous journey, dont pick it up! took me the better part of a year, but i finished it. and i dont regret one second of it.

the second is ayn rand's Atlas Shrugged. now there's a book to make you think. also very long
 
R

reni

I loved Atlas Shrugged. I loved the style of writing and the ideas put forth in the book were thought-provoking, to say the least. On the other hand, I had to read The Canterbury Tales in middle English, and I definitely wouldn't want to repeat that experience any time soon.

"...Poul dorste nat comanden, atte leeste,
A thyng of which his maister yaf noon heeste.
The dart is set up for birginitee:
Cacche whoso may, who renneth best lat see..."

--enough said.
 

kerpoe

Senior Member
I have read a lot of things ranging from Chaucer and Homer to Kerouac and Pynchon and by far the msot confusing and difficult read was Naked Lunch, and the book is brilliant.
 
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