Top Ten Novels I Really Want to Read (But Am Slightly Intimidated By)

Today, The Broke and The Bookish bring us another Top Ten Tuesday. It was supposed to be Top Ten X Genre books, but since I haven’t yet expanded my horizon much genre-wise, I feel like writing that Top Ten Tuesday would be rather repetitive of previous ones, which are already repetitive enough. So, I’m using novels as a genre and instead of telling you about my top ten favorite novels (which would probably be impossible because I love so many for so many different reasons) I’m going to tell you about the top ten novels I would love to read but have been putting off because they intimidate me.

1. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) – George R. R. Martin. My friend Jess made me buy this book years ago (somehow she always knows about the big fantasy books before they’re really big—she did this with The Hunger Games too) and I tried really hard to read it, but I just couldn’t get into it. There were so many people to remember and I just had no idea where any of it was going so I got about 70 pages in and gave up. Jess was always a big fantasy reader, so I just chalked it up to our tastes being different (I’ve always been more into science fiction than fantasy). But now that EVERYONE is reading it, and apparently loving it, I’m feeling left out. So once my coworker gives me back my copy, I’m going to try to read it again.

2. Don Quixote – Miguel Cervantes. Ever since I discovered the origin of the word “quixotic,” I’ve wanted to read the book that it came from. I suppose I should have stayed in the Honors Program at BC (I dropped out after freshman year) because it was apparently a common sophomore year read for my HP friends, but I think I’ll probably enjoy it more at my own pace.

3. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky. This is another one I would have read as a sophomore, had I stayed with the Honors Program. I’ve heard great things about this one, although I’m a little nervous about keeping all of the names straight, which I’ve heard is somewhat difficult for most people who read this. Luckily, Andrew was in the Honors Program and didn’t drop out, so we have both this one and Don Quixote in the apartment, just waiting for me to be brave enough to start them.

4. The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1) – Robert Jordan. This series was recommended to me by my cousin Duncan, who was the one who got me to read Ender’s Game, so I definitely trust him—I’m just intimidated by the size and complexity of the series. My boss has actually been reading both this series and the A Song of Ice and Fire series at the same time because certain books have been on hold for a while at the library, so he bounces back and forth. It seems like every day at lunch I see him with a different book! I can’t imagine trying to read both these series at the same time.

5. Moby Dick – Herman Melville. I actually read about half of this book two summers ago, but then put it down for a break and never picked it up again. I had been on reading overload and always meant to get back to it, but never did. I’ve been feeling guilty about it ever since the summer of 2010, so I’m hoping to get it done by the end of this summer.

6. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky. I bought this one a few summers ago at a Barnes and Noble 3-for-2 classics sale. No idea what it’s about, but its on The List and it’s rather huge. Plus I’ve never really read any Russian literature so I figure it’s about time. But its size is intimidating, for sure.

7. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy. See above! I really love angry Russian composers (my favorites are Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich) so I’m hoping I’ll love the angry Russian writers as well. Were they angry? Or were they just angsty? I guess I’ll find out once I muster up my courage and finally manage to read these huge monstrosities of books!

8. The Lord of the Rings – J.  R. R. Tolkein. Every time I tell someone I’ve never read Lord of the Rings, they react very similarly to the people who hear I’ve never seen Star Wars: “WHAAAAT?” Yeah…I’ve never seen the LOTR movies either. I know, I know! But while I still have no interest in the movies, I think it’s time I tried the books again. Yes, again—I tried probably about ten years ago when my uncle gave me all three books in one volume for Christmas or my birthday, but I got about as far as “eleventy-first birthday” before giving up. I also didn’t like The Hobbit, but maybe I was too young. At any rate, I’m hoping to get through these either this year or next.

9. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand. I suppose after reading Atlas Shrugged, I’m not so intimidated about reading The Fountainhead, but on the other hand…Atlas Shrugged took me freaking FOREVER. So I’m simply intimidated because I know how long it’ll take me. Other than that, though, I’m really looking forward to reading it! I might see if I can find someone doing a read-along somewhere…

10. Dracula – Bram Stoker. I think the only reason I’m really intimidated by this one is because I downloaded it for free in iBooks and on my tiny iPhone screen it’s 1200-something pages. Obviously it’s not nearly that many in print, but it’s still probably rather long—Amazon says 400 pages. Okay, so not that bad, but that’s pretty long compared to most classic horror stories I’ve read (Edgar Allen Poe, H. G. Wells, etc). I’m definitely looking forward to reading this one, though, I’ve heard great things about it.

Are there any books that intimidate you? How about ones that used to intimidate you, but that you read anyway?

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20 thoughts on “Top Ten Novels I Really Want to Read (But Am Slightly Intimidated By)

  1. For some of those books that you list there, I love the stories and the concepts, but I don’t care for their writing-styles. I think particularly of Dostoevsky (though I loved Notes from the Underground) and Tolkein.

    But for some of them, I love their writing styles. I like Ayn Rand and Tolstoy, at least what I’ve read by them. But I haven’t read War and Peace and The Fountainhead because I just haven’t had the time or the motivation to commit to them.

    • I’ve never read Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or Tolkien (unless you count me reading about 1.5 pages of Lord of the Rings before giving up). Moby Dick was kind of boring, but I really want to get through it this time, even if just to say I did! I realize that’s probably the wrong reason to want to read a book, but oh well.

      I haven’t had much time to commit to huge books like these either, especially considering how much Villette is still dragging for me. Maybe once I finish that one I’ll be able to start on one of these!

  2. I couldn’t get past page 60 in The Brothers Karamazov, it was so boring to me. I read Don Quixote in high school Spanish (we had to translate it into English) and I thought it was hilarious, though I suppose things were lost in the (my) translation. 😉

    • Good to hear about Dracula! I haven’t heard any bad things at all about that one. As for Crime and Punishment–you enjoyed it, which is awesome, but did it take you forever? Or was it not as long as you thought?

  3. Game of Thrones is so good! It is overwhelming at first all of the characters but I found myself remembering them as I read. (I didn’t worry about remembering them exactly at first.) Even now I’m like oh what happened to so and so, but just focus on the main upper-class characters and you’ll be alright.

    Lord of the Rings was good but be wary of the second novel it took me months to read because of the overkill on detail. They were great stories though!

    I’m looking forward to reading Moby Dick and Dracula over the next couple of years so hopefully we’ll both like them!

    • I really really hope I’ll like Game of Thrones this time around. Same with LOTR. I’m reasonably sure I’ll like Dracula, and Moby Dick will hopefully not bore me as much as last time…

  4. I still think Game of Thrones is one of the best fantasy books that I’ve read. It takes an attention to detail — especially in the beginning — because Martin doesn’t give endless exposition, which in general is good. You can compare that to The Eye of the World — which was actually a very good book too, but The Wheel of Time series? Holy crap. It was good for about 3 books, okay for about 3 books and then became bogged down crap. I gave up around book 8 or 9, I don’t even remember. Those are 6000 pages I’m never getting back.

    I loved Dracula. It’s dry, but it’s an amazingly good read for such an old novel and it’s remarkable to see how many of horror conventions come from it. Definitely worth reading!

    • Yeah, I’m nervous about the Wheel of Time series. That many books just seems like WAY too much of a commitment. Maybe I’ll read them in the background over a few years? We shall see.

      I can’t wait to read Dracula. I love old-timey horror, so I think it’ll be just up my alley! 🙂

  5. I really liked Game of Thrones too – and I read the 2nd one as well. But definitely agree that it takes time & 100% concentration to get into these books – so many characters!

    • Yeah, I’ll just have to make sure to really concentrate…hard for me with books because I’m a serial skimmer! I definitely need to get better about that!

  6. I read a bit more than half of Don Quixote in high school and didn’t find it hard, just time consuming. (I ran out of time, which is why I didn’t finish it.) The others on your list which I’ve read are Lord of the Rings and Dracula, both of which I love and both of which I’ve read at least twice. I can see some readers just not getting into Tolkien’s style, but I thought Dracula was a fairly easy (and super-engaging) read.

    About the only thing that intimidates me as a reader is length–simply because I know it’s going to take me forever!

    • I think what I’ll probably have to do with most of these since they’re so long is be reading other books at the same time–it’s what I did with Atlas Shrugged and what I’m doing with Villette, so yes it does take longer to read the giant book, but I can also read other books in between and not feel completely overwhelmed!

  7. “I tried really hard to read it, but I just couldn’t get into it. There were so many people to remember and I just had no idea where any of it was going so I got about 70 pages in and gave up.”

    I felt exactly the same, but about 300 pages in I was hooked. Now I’m about to start the fourth book of the series and I can’t wait!

    • That’s heartening!! Knowing more people that like it is making it easier for me to want to put in the effort! For just one friend who I kinda thought was nuts for wanting to read it, not so much. But knowing other people can get through it and enjoy it is awesome 🙂

  8. I have the first two Game of Thrones books on audio. I think that’ll be the only way I can get through them. They’re SO long and while I’m fine with reading long books I think I can get through them faster with audio.

    As for Moby Dick – AH. I took an American Literature course in college and my professor had us read Moby Dick chapter by chapter for an entire semester. I was about to go crazy by the end of the novel. I’m not sure if it was because of the way we went through it line by line, but NOTHING could ever tempt me to read that book again!

    • I’m not a books on tape person–I don’t think I’d ever be able to concentrate, especially on something as complicated as Game of Thrones seems to be. Let me know how to goes for you!

      I never had to read Moby Dick for school, but I did get halfway through it two summers ago, and then never picked it up again. I was mostly enjoying it, but I had just been literature-d out, I guess. I’m going to try again this year, probably during the summer when work slows down 🙂

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