Tough reads of 2016

I had a fantastic 2016 in terms of reading a varied number of books. There were some phenomenal reads and some good reads. There were also some reads that I truly struggled with. Then there were some that I just couldn’t read and had to abandon. Now, to be honest, I hate abandoning books. I hate half read books. The nice person in me feels adamantly guilty. I believe that the author has put in a great amount of effort and work to write a piece and me not being able to finish it is some form of insult to his/her work. However, I have come to realize that there will be books that I cannot finish, do not want to finish, and it is more to do with my mindset (possibly at the time of reading) than the book itself. I have also realized that I have approximately 150 unread books on my shelf and I need to get on with it!

So, I have decided to compile a small list of the books that took sheer hulk – like effort on my part to finish. Mind you, these books have gotten rave reviews from other people and some are classics; but I struggled with them for whatever reason.

Here goes, in no particular order:

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov –Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Goodreads summary: Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.

This book.

I have never struggled with a book as much as I have struggled with this one. It took 3 attempts to finally get through it! I must admit that the story was unique and I am glad I finished it. I am not sure if the difficult language was needed but the distinct nature of the story had me coming back to it. However, it was a tough subject to digest. People working in the child protection, child safety sector or just people with daughters may find it an unpleasant read.

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte –img_2148

Goodreads summary: Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

This book made me realize that I have some, relatively set notions about what love should be like. I am not a fan of blind, seemingly passionate, possessive love. I believe that that is a road to destruction. Therefore, where hundreds of people believe Catherine and Heathcliff to be the ‘One True Love Pair’, I believe that they were just destructive beings that needed some severe mental health help. Keeping these views in mind, this one was tough to get through.

  1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt –img_2446

Goodreads summary: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

This book had raving reviews from almost every one that has read it on Bookstagram. And the summary itself was interesting enough for me to go ahead and pick it up. Sadly, this book did nothing for me. It was fancy for the sake of sounding intelligent and that is just plain annoying in my opinion! I do not believe that you need big words and big sentences to sound intelligent, but that is what Donna Tartt has done. The story for me, ended approximately halfway into it but there were 250 pages more explaining the first 250 pages. I am told that is the general language and structure of Tartt’s writing, so I do not think I will be picking up other books by her.

  1. Factotum by Charles Bukowsku –img_0396

Goodreads summary: One of Charles Bukowski’s best, this beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate novel follows the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across World War II-era America. Deferred from military service, Chinaski travels from city to city, moving listlessly from one odd job to another, always needing money but never badly enough to keep a job. His day-to-day existence spirals into an endless litany of pathetic whores, sordid rooms, dreary embraces, and drunken brawls, as he makes his bitter, brilliant way from one drink to the next.

This book is very very similar to Post Office by Bukowski. Therefore, if you have read Post Office (and I have), it feels like the story has not moved ahead at all. Chinaski moves from job to job, woman to woman, without really getting anywhere. For that reason, Factotum may be little difficult to get through. However, I do love the simplicity of Bukowski’s writing and I will definitely read more of his work.

These are the four books that took 100% of my energy and then some more! But, these are the ones I have finished. There were a bunch of books that I did not finish, but I will not be writing about those!

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