Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This weekly shared “meme” has a different theme each week and is shared by many blogs. We’re aiming to come up with ten things between us each week so they won’t be in any particular order!
Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read
1. We are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas Goodreads blurb: When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream. Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future. Why was it difficult to read? 640 pages of unrelenting misery (alcoholism, miscarriages, illness and other life disappointments – and that is only in the first 25% – do not a fun read make!) – Natasha
1. We are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
Goodreads blurb: When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.
Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.
Why was it difficult to read? 640 pages of unrelenting misery (alcoholism, miscarriages, illness and other life disappointments – and that is only in the first 25% – do not a fun read make!) – Natasha
2. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Goodreads Blurb: When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?
Why was it difficult to read? Alice was probably the worst character I have ever come across. She is selfish and spiteful and completely ungrateful. I still get angry just thinking about her. – Natasha
3. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Goodreads blurb: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
Why was it difficult to read? This is a beautiful book, but the subject matter is harrowing and the horror inevitable – Natasha
4. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Goodreads blurb: Set in the turbulent times of twelfth-century England when civil war, famine, religious strife and battles over royal succession tore lives and families apart, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the building of a magnificent cathedral.
Against this richly imagined backdrop, filled with intrigue and treachery, Ken Follett draws the reader irresistibly into a wonderful epic of family drama, violent conflict and unswerving ambition. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, the dreams, labours and loves of his characters come vividly to life. The Pillars of the Earth is, without doubt, a masterpiece – and has proved to be one of the most popular books of our time(
Why was it difficult to read? I know this is a much loved novel. but I found reading it a bit of a chore. Too long winded and self important.
5. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Goodreads blurb: 1926. Tom Sherbourne is a young lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The only inhabitants of Janus Rock, he and his wife Isabel live a quiet life, cocooned from the rest of the world.
One April morning a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a crying infant – and the path of the couple’s lives hits an unthinkable crossroads.
Only years later do they discover the devastating consequences of the decision they made that day – as the baby’s real story unfolds …
Why was it difficult to read? That poor little girl! This book really traumatised me, I had nightmares and everything. So many people loved it and I have no idea why! – Angelya
6. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Goodreads blurb: When Bella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerising voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.
What Bella doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…(
Why was it difficult to read? The relationship between Bella and Edward is so unhealthy – it made me worry about the teenage girls reading it. – Natasha
7. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Goodreads blurb: 1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times.
Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies.
But when one of his intended ‘shining girls’, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again…
Why was it difficult to read? While the story was good and the idea interesting, I found the murder chapters very difficult to bare. They weren’t the most grizzly or graphic scenes, but they disturbed me more then most. – Natasha
8. Tsotsi by Athol Fugard
Goodreads blurb: Set amid the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto, where survival is the primary objective, Tsotsi traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader. When we meet Tsotsi, he is a man without a name (tsotsi is Afrikaans for hoodlum ) who has repressed his past and now exists only to stage and execute vicious crimes. When he inadvertently kidnaps a baby, Tsotsi is confronted with memories of his own painful childhood, and this angry young man begins to rediscover his own humanity, dignity, and capacity to love.
Why was it difficult to read? This story has very personal implications for me (having experienced violence in Johannesburg) and I still struggle to accept any excuse for violence, murder and rape – even if the protagonist rediscovers his capacity to love. Athol Fugard is a national treasure though. – Natasha
9. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Goodreads blurb: The novel that established Virginia Woolf as a leading writer of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and it greatest triumph–the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, it also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.
Why was it difficult to read? It is extremely hard to follow and NOTHING HAPPENS! – Natasha
10. The Missing Person’s Guide to Love by Susanna Jones
Goodreads blurb: Isabel, Owen and Julia were childhood friends. But when they were fifteen, Julia disappeared without a trace—an event that had a devastating impact on the others. Years later, Isabel returns to her home town in the north of England for Owen’s funeral. She hadn’t seen him since they recklessly burned down the local supermarket together; he was sent to prison and she, just shy of her 18th birthday, to a young offenders’ centre. Isabel suspects that Owen was responsible for Julia’s murder, and she’s hoping finally to find some kind of resolution.
Feeling cut off from her husband and child in Turkey, and awash with unexpected memories, Isabel ventures further into the murky depths of her past. But nothing is as it seems—either past or present—and as Isabel’s world unravels we finally realise the stunning, shattering truth.
Why was it difficult to read? Completely bizarre and irritating! I found the prose forced and there were so many holes in the plot it seemed like a cheese grater. – Natasha