Top Ten Books I’m Most Intimidated To Read

“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 Misรฉrables by Victor Hugo

Before it was an Oscar-winning film starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, Victor Hugo’s Les Misรฉrables 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.

40 Responses

  1. Great picks (and can I just say, REALLY cute blog). I read your entire post, and I totally get why you’re intimidated. I don’t think I’m convincing enough to change your mind, but I really loved Second Chance Summer (as well as Epic Detour) and I didn’t think the emotion was too intense. It was heart wrenching, but heart warming at the same time. I love Sarah Dessen, but I’ve come across so-so books from her, but I really loved some of her more recent titles– they’re quite light and fun reads too! I think it’s totally fine too if you end up being an odd man out– I for one would still get you, and read your reviews. We all have different takes on things after all ๐Ÿ˜€ I loved Shadow and Bone. I was so scared of it at first. But anyway, great post. Sorry for ranting. haha!
    Jasmine @ Flip That Page recently posted…Top Ten Tuesdays: Intimidating BooksMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much for your very sweet comment, Jasmine! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Second Chance Summer. Everyone’s reassurances have actually made me a little less apprehensive to read it now! I’m sure I’ll love it given how much I adored Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – I just have to work up the courage to start it now.

      I was also actually quite surprised by people’s views on Sarah Dessen. Apparently her work isn’t quite as universally popular as I once thought, as many people either have never read one of her works, like me, or found them all rather repetitive. It certainly takes some of the pressure off ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  2. I think Leigh Bardugo is a good read for people who don’t normally love high fantasy. She doesn’t get bogged down in worldbuilding or lots of descriptions IMHO. Plus, her characters are great! #TeamDarkling ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Also, I feel you about Sarah Dessen and John Green. I haven’t read any books by either of those authors, and I’m not really inclined to – none of them sound like “my thing,” you know? Plus, I feel a little bit like a rebel for being a YA fan who’s never read John Green. lol
    Katie recently posted…Review: Where She Went, by Gayle FormanMy Profile

    1. Oh, that’s definitely reassuring, Katie! From the sounds of many of the comments left for me in this post, Shadow and Bone is one of the more accessible of the YA fantasy genre. Overly extensive world-building tends to be the kiss of death when it comes to my level of enjoyment in a novel, so I’m happy to hear that Bardugo doesn’t go overboard.

      *High Fives* A fellow Sarah Dessen and John Green virgin! It’s so refreshing to meet someone else who has yet to read any of their books. I completely understand what you mean – John Green’s concepts have never really appealed to me. I have to admit, I can be a bit contrary just for the sake of it – The fact that everyone and their mother seems to adore John Green makes me even less interested in reading his work. There’s an inherent part of me that simply wants to rebel against what people tell me is ‘best’ for me ๐Ÿ˜› Theoretically I should like Dessen’s work as I love stories set in small towns with a plethora of well-drawn secondary characters. I’ve heard a number of her fans say that she excels in both these areas.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

    1. That’s definitely comforting ๐Ÿ™‚ I have heard some tell me that Donoghue’s portrayal of Jack’s perspective borders of gimmicky, but I’ll reserve final judgment until I read it. Hopefully it’ll make the difficult topic a little more bearable.

      P.S. Your blog is absolutely adorable! I love how fresh and clean the design is and it’s extremely easy to navigate. Very cute ๐Ÿ˜€
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  3. I adore Shadow and Bone. The writing is beautiful, the characters are amazing, and the world-building is incredible. I’m really hoping they’ll make a movie. I enjoy Dessen’s work, but honestly I’m not sure why she’s as popular as she it. I think her books follow a lot of the same formulas. However, I wouldn’t necessarily skip over them if you like light stuff! Happy reading. ๐Ÿ˜€
    Rebecca recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Intimidating BooksMy Profile

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed Shadow and Bone! It certainly sounds like a concept that would be well-suited to the big screen.

      I’m leaving for vacation this afternoon, and have decided to take Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen with me. The premise sounds really promising and everyone’s reassurances in this post have finally convinced me to take the plunge!
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  4. AH! How have I not seen your blog before? I’m slightly obsessed with your design and now I’m stalking your reviews, so please don’t be crept out by the amount of comments you get from me today.

    ANYWAYS. Second Chance Summer! This one intimidates me like crazy and I have no idea why I didn’t include it in my list. I love Amy & Roger, but I don’t know if I can do this one. Emotional books are the worst for me, but emotional books involving cancer? I try to avoid them at all costs (exception being TFIOS, darn you hype)

    Hope you get a chance to read some of these books! Maybe a Sarah Dessen? They’re usually pretty light reads!
    tabithasbookblog recently posted…Top Ten Books That Intimidate Me – because of the hypeMy Profile

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for your kind comment ๐Ÿ˜€ It really made my day!

      It sounds like I’m in good company with my choice of Second Chance Summer. I saw it listed an innumerable number of times on people’s Top Ten Tuesday lists over the past week, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone. The silly thing is, I know I’ll likely love it once I work up the courage to read it – It’s the process of convincing myself to read it that’s the most difficult part ๐Ÿ˜›

      I’m leaving for a week-long vacation this afternoon and have packed Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen to take with me. It seemed to be a rather popular choice amongst her fans, and I really like the concept behind it. Here’s hoping I like it as much as everyone else seems to have!
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  5. I am most in agreement with you on fear of Second Chance Summer, as I just bought that one, and I will be SO angry with myself if I don’t like it, since I sort of broke my book-buying rules to get it. Also, I didn’t sort of break them; I broke them. Let’s be honest. PLEASE BE GOOD. DO NOT BE ANOTHER DIVERGENT LEVEL OF FAILURE.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Review: The Distance Between UsMy Profile

  6. Don’t feel bad – I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book either. I’m afraid they’ll be way too fluffy for my taste.

    And, I’ve had Shadow & Bone on my bookshelf for about 7 months now. I asked for it for my birthday, got it, and then never read it. So, I feel you there.

    TTT @ Krista’s Dust Jacket

    1. I am honestly surprised (and happy) to hear I’m not alone in never having read any of Sarah Dessen’s work! Contemporary is actually one of my favourite genres, so theoretically I should enjoy her work, but the legacy that has been built around her work over the years has definitely prevented me from picking one up this far.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  7. If you ARE the odd man out on Sarah Dessen, don’t worry, because I’m there too. I’ve read two of her books, and while I liked both of them well enough, I have no desire to read her other books. I kinda feel like once you read one Sarah Dessen book, you’ve read them all.
    Also, I loved Looking for Alaska waaay more than The Fault in Our Stars. I highly recommend that one over some of Green’s more popular work.
    Stormy @ Book.Blog.Bake. recently posted…The Sunday Wrap-Up!(18)My Profile

    1. Again, if nothing else, this entry has really created a sense of camaraderie amongst readers and bloggers as it was such a pleasant surprise to find I’m not the only one to be wholly unfamiliar with Dessen’s work! ๐Ÿ™‚ It also takes a little of the pressure off to hear from others who have read one or two of her works and were not overwhelmingly impressed. Glad to know I’m likely building it up in my head over nothing.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  8. Haha dude I feel you! I read my first Sarah Dessen book just last month and I was so relieved that I liked it. Basically her books are about nothing but life and feel good stories that are perfect for summer. At least most are I hear a few are a bit more profound etc. I also LOVED Gone Girl, such a psycho story, that is! I totally get you, though, being a black sheep on books that are so raved about is never fun I always feel the stares! haha.
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Undercurrent by Paul BlackwellMy Profile

    1. Theoretically, I should really enjoy Dessen’s work as her books seem to include so many of the things I enjoy. I don’t need grand, action-filled, sweeping stories, as long as they are coming from a place of emotional authenticity. I ordinarily enjoy stories that are set in small towns and Dessen seems to have perfected that concept. *Crosses fingers* Hopefully my first experience with her work will be as positive as yours was!

      Being the only person to dislike a seemingly universally-praised book has to be one of the worst feelings in the world ๐Ÿ™ Unbreak My Heart was probably my most recent experience with that sort of thing. It was crushing.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  9. I have always been intrigued to read ‘Blonde’ by Joyce Carol Oates. I love fictional accounts of celebrities, or characters based on celebrities (I’m a sucker for Jacqueline Susann and her novels are said to be loaded with characters based on famous celebrities at the time, such as Judy Garland), but it is such a weighty book, and Oates has always been hit or miss for me. I also wonder how she has written the amount of critically acclaimed books that she has!!

    Also a little hesitant about Gone Girl. I loved ‘Sharp Objects’ by her so much, that I don’t want to read Gone Girl and be disappointed!
    Courtney @ The Lit Girl recently posted…Newcity Lit ReviewMy Profile

  10. I want to read Second Chance Summer so badly but with the subject matter paralleling my life so much right now I am holding off on that one. I am intimidated by The Fault In Our Stars as well, I am waiting for the hype to die down at that one a bit before I read it for myself.
    Jenni @ Alluring Reads recently posted…Midwinterblood ReviewMy Profile

  11. I completely agree with you. When I first picked up ROOM I was both intrigued and horrified. I managed to read it but it definitely had an impact on me and it makes me feel disgusted that things like this happen in the real world.
    olena recently posted…Top Ten Most Intimidating BooksMy Profile

  12. I’ve, like you, never read a Sarah Dessen book but I’ve come so far as to actually buy one of her books. I’m with you on what you said about John Green and I’ve only read two of his books. I liked The Fault in Our Stars a lot while I thought I’ll like The Abundance of Katherines more.

    The Diviners is on a lot of lists today which is pretty surprising for me.
    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Most Intimidating BooksMy Profile

    1. The sad thing is, I actually own four books by Sarah Dessen, but I’ve yet to pick up a single one. Absolutely shameful!

      As I mentioned, I was so ashamed to include The Diviners on this list, particularly given how much I’ve loved all of Bray’s previous work. I’m sure I’ll like it too, but the sheer length is enough to give me pause.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  13. I’ve never read any Sarah Dessen either! I do have one on my kindle though.

    Lolita is skeezy as heck but it’s amazing writing! It’ll creep you out but you’ll kind of admire it at the same time. It’s a weird experience, reading it.

    I have The Diviners to read but I haven’t gotten around to it yet! I’ve never read any Libba Bray but I know she’s pretty universally loved.

    I read Les Mis last year and it’s such a beautiful story when it’s focused on the actual story! The tangents are pretty irritating though!

    I wasn’t a fan of Gone Girl but so many others loved it! I felt overly manipulated and the ending was just horrid which made me have really mixed feelings about it.
    Bree recently posted…The Shadow Tracer โ€“ Meg GardinerMy Profile

    1. Your issues with Gone Girl are similar to my reasons for avoiding it up until now. The concept and manner in which it’s written does sound emotionally manipulative and I do worry about that. Plus, both characters sound so absolutely repugnant that I don’t know if I want to be in their head-space for any extended length of time.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  14. Can I just say that I LOVE the design of your blog! Also, our blogs share the same birth week (here’s to being the newbies in the blogosphere)!

    ROOM is such a quick read, but it’s mind-warping at the time. I need to re-read it, because in my mind I made everything a little less horrific the first time around. I say go for it!

    And you’ve GOT to read Gone Girl. It’s the cleverest, sharpest contemporary novel I’ve read. It really is just perfect. Great list!
    Erin McLeod @ Pursuit of Good Reads recently posted…TOP 10 TUESDAY: Top 10 Most Intimidating BooksMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much, Erin! Your comment really made me smile ๐Ÿ˜€ I wish I could take any of the credit for how wonderful Pop! Goes The Reader looks, but it’s all thanks to Cindy Pepper! The blog’s design turned out better than I ever could have imagined and she was a pleasure to work with.

      *High fives* It’s really exciting to meet a fellow new book blogger! It can be a little intimidating trying to find one’s place in such a large, overwhelming community, but thankfully so far everyone has been extremely lovely ๐Ÿ™‚ Your blog looks like it’s off to a great start!

      Is it possible to be both excited and reluctant to read something at the same time? I desperately want to read Gone Girl because it sounds like nothing I’ve ever read before, but the dark tone and premise sounds like it could be potentially overwhelming!
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

    1. Finally! Someone else who is hesitant about reading Shadow and Bone! Even in this post it seemed as though everyone had already read (and adored) it. From the sounds of the comments left for me, it seems as though it’s one of the more accessible in the YA fantasy genre, so I do take a little comfort in that ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully we’ll both eventually work up the courage to read it!
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

  15. Jen, if you ever do read a Sarah Dessen novel, don’t worry about being the black sheep! After much deliberation yesterday, hoping and praying I wouldn’t be shunned, I DNF’d her The Truth About Forever at 50%. So at least I’ll be in that corner to keep you company!

    Les Misรฉrables was on my list too, even though I have read it all. I waited until after I’d watched the Hugh Jackman movie to make sure I’d enjoy the story first; after falling in love, I went straight to the book. It took me about two months to read it, but I’m so glad I made it through. I agree, though: I think if I’d tried to read it after I started blogging too, it would have been to the bottom of my pile for years.
    Nikki @ The Paper Sea recently posted…Book Review: Please Ignore Vera DietzMy Profile

    1. It’s definitely nice to know I won’t be alone! There really is no worse feeling than being the odd person out and disliking a book that everyone else seems to love ๐Ÿ™ I plan on reading Just Listen by Dessen soon. Hopefully I’ll have a more positive experience with it than you did with The Truth About Forever.

      I think in the case of Les Misรฉrables, it may be one of the few times I watch the adaptation before I read the book. I think being able to visualize it in my mind might make the reading experience a little more bearable. The scope of that novel is terrifying.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiMy Profile

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Hi! Iโ€™mย Jen! Iโ€™m a thirty-something introvert who loves nothing more than the cozy comfort of home and snuggling my two rescue cats, Pepper and Pancakes. I also enjoy running, jigsaw puzzles, baking and everything Disney. Few things bring me more joy than helping a reader find the right book for them!