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Friday, November 12, 2010

Do you ever have those days where you are just absolutely, inexplicably exhausted? I am having one of those days. Probably because I stayed up til midnight watching Slumdog Millionaire with my sister... I am an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl usually. Which is why I am wearing a sweatshirt and blogging instead of making use of my free hour to study for my upcoming exams.

But anyway... It's time for the 2nd literary blog hop. :)
This week's question is:

What is the most difficult literary work you've ever read? What made it so difficult?

This is a difficult question for me to answer. I am not sure if I have just not read very many hard books, or if I am just prone to liking everything so I don't consider it "difficult," because to me "difficult" has a more negative connotation.

I would definitely say Les Miserables was one of the more difficult books I read for a few reasons. (1), it's length. (2), my age when I read it (I can't remember for sure but I think I was in middle school). And (3), the interminable chapters about Napoleon. I really feel as if I should go back and read the unabridged version again so that I can learn more about Napoleon, but part of me wonders if I would just do the exact same thing and shamelessly skim again.

But with that said, I loved the book. I would read it again, and probably will someday.

The most difficult book I never read is Tale of Two Cities. I do not even remember all the times I have tried to start that book, but I will relay just a few for you.

Encounter 1: I heard of it in a short story I read in American Girl magazine when I was 9 or 10 (did any of you read this magazine? It has such good childhood memories!). The book was described as "a bit difficult, but a lovely story" so I immediately assumed I should read it. I read about one page and then gave up.

Encounter 2: Remembering that I gave up when I was younger, in middle school I decided to try again. I checked it out from the library, along with several other books. When I was in middle school, my friends and I always met in the back corner of the library to hang out, so I was always noticing new books to read. I remember reading the first line and thinking, "This sounds really great. I should definitely try to read it again." But the other books (i.e. Tamora Pierce) were easier and I returned the book unread.

Encounter 3: I found a worn out copy in one of my family's sheds. (Note about my dad: He is a crazy outdoorsman and he has a new hobby every few months. This has led to many sheds full of many hobbies. Examples include making bows and killing bears with them, motorcycles, wood carving, etc. This variety of hobbies has also led my dad to be fairly well read. He reads books and then gives them away, or I find them in canoes or toolboxes, etc.). Anyway, I found this book in a tent or something and thought, I should definitely read this. If my dad read it, I can talk to him about it. But he gave it away or threw it away shortly thereafter, and I never got a hold of it.

Encounter 4: I thought for sure I would read it this time. I was going to France, so I decided I needed some things to read on the plane trip and in the parks (bien sur!!). I went to the classics bargain books section of the university bookstore and picked out The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Then Tale of Two Cities caught my eye and I thought, Why not? I'll try it again. I got through three pages.

Why is it I can't get through this book? Has anyone else had trouble with it? I was talking to my very intelligent friend Sam about it and he said, "Are you kidding me? That's the easy one!" Thanks, Samuel. I really hope someday to read this book. Maybe I'll be old enough for it in 20 years.


  1. Ah! I loved American Girl magazine. I actually remember hearing about A Tale of Two Cities from that show Wishbone haha.

  2. I'm actually reading it right now! I'm about halfway through & I really like it so far. I don't read a ton of literature so I have to go slowly :) but I feel like it's one of those books that rewards you for your struggles hah.

  3. This is the second review I've read that said Les Mis was hard to read, and it's putting me off ever reading it.

    And as for Dickens, I just don't particularly enjoy his books. I can read them, but they don't sparkle with life for me.

  4. aahhh dickens. why do his books have to be so long? and hard? I sympathize with your tale of two cities woes, one day you'll get there, you have to now it's like your life long reading mission!

    (mine is anna karennina lol)

    I haven't tried reading les mis yet, but I'll get around to it. After some quick study... teheh.

    Very glad to have found your blog on the hop. New follower :)

  5. I'm a philistine in that I don't get Dickens, i think it's partly because it was thrust on me at school, you know the kind of thing "Of course you like dickens, you're english for godsake! you must like him, its tantamount to treason not to" so I ended up not caring for him.
    Ps. liked your write up tho.

  6. My answer was Mrs. Dalloway, but Les Mis came in a close second.... and A Tale of Two Cities is my least favorite Dickens. I really struggled to make it to the end of that one!

  7. Wonderful posting! You made me chuckle numerous times. First, I remember struggling with Les Miserables when I wore a younger man's clothes. I have read it a couple of times since and have conquered it. In fact, I now have the new Julie Rose translation, that I hear is just the very best of all. So, I thin I'll be revisiting Les Mis in 2011.

    Secondly, Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities is not his best novel, in my opinion by far. I always have felt that it is a 'rushed' or 'hasty' novel. Just kind of helter-skelter; without the finesse and attention to detail of so many of his other novels (especially Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend).

    Great posting, and it was a distinct pleasure to find you via the "Literary Blog Hop." Have a great weekend! Cheers! Chris

  8. IngridLola: I'm so glad you liked American Girl magazine too! I remember when I realized I was "too old" to read it and I was sad. Wishbone was definitely one of my favorite shows as a child as well.

    Kels: Ok, maybe I will have to try it again soon! I'm calling you if I need support. Haha :)

    Sam: Don't let it put you off! It is still a wonderful book, and definitely worth the time. I usually shun abridged books, but in the case of this one I would say it might be a good choice. The themes and the actual story are lovely, it is the history that sometimes gets a little difficult to muddle through.

    Toni: thanks for the follow! I am trying to get through Anna Karenina as well. I started it on a road trip with a roommate, but it was her book and I never got around to finish it.

    parrish lantern: Thank you! Yeah, being force-fed books is usually a turn-off to me as well. I've never read any Dickens, but he does seem to be the quintessentially English author from what I've heard.

    JoAnn: It's good to know I'm not alone!

    Christopher: I will have to check out that translation. It definitely makes all the difference. Perhaps I will have to try a different Dickens before attempting Tale of Two Cities again. Thank you for the follow!

  9. That is funny! Tale of Two Cities was the first Dickens book I ever read and I absolutely loved it from the get go.

    Les Miserables is one I haven't gotten to yet, but I am glad to see (thanks Chris) that there is a new translation. I am getting more aware of how translations matter.

    This was a fun question to answer. My pick was Finnegans Wake.

    Rose City Reader

  10. I've not read Tale of Two Cities (or even attempted it), but I did cheerfully read through Great Expectations last Christmas break. Brilliant. So glad I read it.

  11. I have read a lot of classics in my school and college years. And some still remain my favorites. However, there are a few I could never get into. I simply love nything by Charles Dickens!

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

  12. I read ToTC last year maybe? off dailylit. I didn't like it much at all. Don't worry about it unless you get into Dickens and decide to read them all.

  13. I wrote about Dickens as well.
    I also had the same issue with Les Mis. I was way to young for it when I read it at 13, and while I ended up enjoying it I don't think I took away anything from it. I know I need to reread it, but Hugo's so long winded.

    Sarah @ Loving Books


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