Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Hard is Good

This week's topic for the Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday is books that were hard to read for any reason.  Turns out, hard is good.  With the exception of #9, I liked or even loved all of these books regardless (or because of?) the extra difficulty in reading them.

1. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III - This the first book I ever read that I think I ever considered hard to read in a "good" way.  The plot centers around an Iranian family and a mistakenly evicted woman fighting over the house she was evicted from, and oh, how very frustrating it was to read about their stubborn resistance to each other when if each side could have given a little bit, their conflict might have been resolved.

2. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh - Trainspotting is hard to read in a bit of a different way.  It's written all in Scottish dialect which is just difficult to comprehend without a lot of effort, and then there's all the pretty raw depiction of junkies in downward spiral.  Tough to read, but still a good book!

3. A Wolf at the Table by Augustine Burroughs - Burroughs' loveless, disturbed, occasionally abusive father is definitely hard to read about. Reading the book causes kind of a horror-movie tension, where the creepy music crescendos and you know something horribly dreadful is about to happen, but you can't quite look away. 

4. Schindler's List by Thomas Kenneally - I've read a good few Holocaust stories and memoirs in my life, but this one, for reasons I can't quite figure out, was one of the harder ones to read.  Keneally definitely doesn't flinch from the untold horrors of the Holocaust from survivors' stories, oh, but I wanted to.

5. The Stand by Stephen King - Is there anybody that can read the beginning of this book with all the plague raging across the United States and the world and not worry immediately that they too are falling ill, like, right now?  Likewise, can you read it without thinking King's depiction is just all-too-possible

6. The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty - I'm not sure how many similarities I actually have with the main character of this book, but I can tell you, when I was reading it, it sure felt like a lot.  I was so wrapped up in this character, that when she was struggling, I was crushed right along with her. 

7. One Hundred and Four Horses by Mandy Retzlaff - I'm a huge animal lover, so animal stories tend to be hard reads for me.  This one is filled with the triumph of saving a massive herd of horses from a hostile Zimbabwe.  Retzlaff gets you all attached to her beloved horses, but in such a dangerous situation, you know it can't all be good news.  Alternately, uplifting and heartbreaking, this one is tough read for any horse lover.

8. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink - Fink's account of Memorial Medical Center is an absolute page-turner, but reading about the failures in communication, how unprepared a major medical center can be for disaster, the loss of life both by natural causes and apparent euthanasia make this one as hard to read as it is hard to put down.

9. The Wentworths by Katie Arnoldi - This is one of those books where the characters are just so utterly reprehensible and most of the things that happen are similarly disturbing that it proved almost impossible to read and completely impossible to like.

10. The Blue Notebook by James Levine - And then there's this book about a child prostitute in India.  Shockingly, this also makes for hard reading. 

What books do you find especially hard to read?


  1. I haven't read any of these books, I'm ashamed to say! In response to your question I find classics incredibly hard to read.

  2. I haven't read any of these and think I only own one of them.

  3. I found House of Fog and Sand absolutely gut wrenching.

  4. FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL is the only one I've read from this list and I agree, it was difficult to even imagine the horrors that occurred inside that hospital. The book definitely made me think about a whole lot of things.

  5. Oof, I can't face the Sheri Fink. I'm not at my best reading books about Katrina, and Sheri Fink's one just sounds like the worst of the bad things about Katrina. (Even though I've heard it's a superb book.)