“Top Ten Tuesday” is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is the Top Ten Books I’m Most Intimidated To Read.
As always, these books are listed in no particular order.
1) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
I believe I touched on this in my June 18th Top Ten Tuesday entry but I think it bears repeating. After falling in love with Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour last summer, I was quick to purchase Matson’s other work, Second Chance Summer. It’s precisely because of my positive experience with the former than I’m hesitant to read the latter – I know what Matson is capable of. Capable of handling even the most difficult of subjects with a sensitivity and authenticity that brought me to tears on more than one occasion as I read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, I know that Second Chance Summer is going to be just as, if not more, of an emotional wringer. Rumoured to have reduced even the most hardened reader to tears, the emotional intensity of this novel is what intimidates me and has prevented me from reading it thus far.
2) Any Book Written By Sarah Dessen
As a young adult book review blogger, it’s nearly impossible not to have heard the name ‘Sarah Dessen’ bandied about. Heralded as the queen of contemporary young adult literature, Dessen’s legacy is formidable. The nostalgia and immense love and support that her work elicits is more than a little intimidating. The possibility and fear of being the odd man out amongst an immense group of fans and well-wishers is a disheartening, and intimidating, prospect.
3) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Clocking in at a mere 317 pages, while this novel can hardly be considered lengthy, what this novel lacks in length it more than makes up for in the depth and controversy of its subject matter. The perennial classic tale of unreliable narrator Humbert Humbert’s all-consuming lust for and obsession with his step-daughter, Dolores Haze, and the glimpse, however briefly, into the vile, depraved mind of a pedophile promises to be both challenging and potentially more than I can bear. While I have every intention of reading this novel at some point, the difficult subject matter has always been enough to dissuade from reading it ‘until another day’. When that eventual day will come, I have no idea.
4) Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m an ardent fan of Marilyn Monroe. Having read nearly every non-fiction book available concerning the life and death of Ms. Monroe and exhausted that wellspring of information, a couple of years ago I began to resort to reading fictionalized accounts of the actress’ life. While they have varied in success, one that has sat untouched on my bookshelf for years is Oates’ Blonde. Joyce Carol Oates’ semi-biographical historical fiction novel based loosely on the life of Marilyn Monroe has been a source of controversy and contention for years and has elicited a number of different opinions amongst die-hard Marilyn Monroe fans. Some have told me to avoid it entirely. Others found it a sensitive and somewhat accurate portrayal of what we know concerning Marilyn’s life. But if I’m entirely honest, I’m still more than a little hesitant to begin reading it. Putting aside the rather daunting 738 page count, I’m worried about not liking what Oates considers her greatest work. Given how deeply invested I feel as a Marilyn Monroe fan, the likelihood that I’ll be satisfied with this work is very slim. It is that fear and doubt, coupled with its rather intimidating length, that has kept me from reading Blonde all these years.
5) The Diviners by Libba Bray
This is the novel I’m most ashamed to include on this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list. Having read Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy in its entirety last year, I was eager to purchase the first novel in her new series, The Diviners, on its release day. So, why haven’t I read it yet? While 578 pages could hardly be considered one of the longest books I’ve ever read, every time I pick up this hefty publication I’m reminded of the fact that it could double as a deadly weapon. Coupled with a vast, complex cast of characters and multiple points of view, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m intimidated by the boundless scope of The Diviners.
6) Any Book Written By John Green
This particular choice has less to do with John Green’s body of work and more to do with the publicity and movement inspired by his novels. Since the publication of Looking For Alaska, Green seems to have become a pop culture phenomenon in and of himself, independent of his work. His legion of fans support his work with a fervency that borders on fanaticism, and for those of us who have yet to drink the John Green Kool-Aid, this can be a little intimidating. I also find some of his concepts emotionally manipulative and believe that many sound eerily similar. Having lost a beloved family member to cancer, I feel I can safely say that I have absolutely no intention of reading The Fault In Our Stars any time soon. That said, I am curious about his supposed appeal and have every intention of reading An Abundance Of Katherines and Looking For Alaska, both of which I currently own in paperback and have yet to read.
7) Room by Emma Donoghue
I purchased Emma Donoghue’s Room shortly after its publication in 2010 following a number of recommendations about it from friends and loved ones. Narrated from the perspective of a five-year-old boy whose world is limited to that of a 11-by-11-foot-room in which he’s being held captive with his mother, I find the premise simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. I purchased this book out of a sense of morbid curiosity, but have since regretted my choice in the wake of recent real-life news stories featuring stories of similar, unfathomable human atrocities. The idea of Donoghue’s unflinching examination of forcible human captivity intimidates me to the point of stasis, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
8) Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Before it was an Oscar-winning film starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was the bane of my existence. A copy of this 1,232 page behemoth has been sitting unread on my bookshelf for more than ten years now. While the French Revolution is one of the historical periods I’m most knowledgable and passionate about, I’ve picked this novel up only to subsequently abandon it more times than I can count. The reason? The sheer length of this novel. While I have little doubt that were I to truly commit to Hugo’s masterpiece I would be utterly enthralled by the story and unable to put it down for a moment, my incessant concerns about what I could be doing instead in the time it would undoubtedly take to read this novel has always acted as a strong deterrent. This is particularly true now following the launch of Pop! Goes The Reader when time is really of the essence. I try to choose books I know I’ll be able to read in a relatively expedient manner as I know I’ll have to draft a review afterward. It looks like Jean Valjean and Fantine’s stories will continue to go regrettably unexplored for a little while longer.
9) Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn’s psychological thriller is the only book I’ve included on this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list that I don’t already own. Documenting the alleged disappearance of Amy Dunne and her husband’s possible culpability in it, this grim tale of moral ambiguity promises to be both riveting and potentially infuriating. While opinions about Flynn’s latest novel seem to be as varied as they are polarizing, one thing is certain – Gone Girl never fails to elicit a strong, gut-wrenching emotional response. I feel the need to brace myself for impact before entering the lives of two sociopaths in this dark, twisted ‘He said, She said’ tale of depravity and ethical corruption.
10) Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
High fantasy has never been my favourite genre. With a tendency toward the development of world-building often to the exclusion of all else, it’s a genre I venture into only on the rarest of occasions. I tried to ignore the hype surrounding Bardugo’s novel for as long as I could, until the recommendations from my friends and those whose opinions I trust most became a deafening roar. With cries of “Team Mal” and “Team Darkling” bombarding me at every turn, I was intrigued enough to purchase Shadow and Bone when I found it on sale one day at my local bookstore. A few months have now passed and I have still yet to pick up the first novel in The Grisha series even once. What if I’m the odd man out, the only blogger to dislike this seemingly universally-beloved book? Will Shadow and Bone be one of the few fantasy novels to secure a place on my ‘favourites’ bookshelf despite all indications to the contrary? Will I be able to slip seamlessly into the world Bardugo has crafted or will I experience the same dread and boredom that is a common symptom for me with the high fantasy genre? Second thoughts, hesitation and intimidation plague me at every turn.