Recomendation – The Most Difficult Novels. How Many Have You Read?

Here’s a good one. It’s from Goodreads which is code for Amazon, and, yes, I go there a lot. It’s a list I came across of the most difficult novels the read. Two hundred of them. I only made it through the first page but notice a perennial favorite of mine, Camus’ The Stranger. I read it first in college French and have read it half-a-dozen times since. Later, taking a refresher French course at a community college, I stole the first line and made the prof cry. I mean she broke down in tears. I’ll tell ya: I felt like the very definition of an ass when I explained to her I was just joking.

“Hey, Dennis. How what your weekend?”

I put my head to for full effect. “Aujourd’hui, maman est morte.” My mother died today.

Shouldn’t a French prof know the line? Apparently not. Wailing ensued and I wore the ass pin for the rest of the term.

I noticed a couple of other gems. Anna Karenina is A) my favorite Tolstoy novel and B) my favorite Russian novel and C), my favorite novel period. It’s not such a difficult read but those first fifty pages of Russian names do in most modern writers. War and Peace isn’t much different.

If you’re up for it, Pasternak’s Lolita is here. It’s stupendously and wonderfully written, but I needed to take a shower every fifty pages or so. The theme is so nasty and the writing so good and you know you shouldn’t like it, but what do you do but turn the page?

Maybe the most fun I’ve had with any of these ‘hard’ books was with A Clockwork Orange. The characters in the book sprinkle their English with their own language and there’s a glossary in the back to help you know what they say. I high school friend and I memorized this stuff and talked in this secret language, patting each other on the back for our abject cool. A movie based on the book was made, and it was rated X in the dark ages when I went to school. The same friend and I drove to Seattle one night, fueled with Southern Comfort, and snuck in the very seedy theatre to watch it. Coolness squared.

I don’t know what the other books are but you can check them out here.

What books have you found to be a devilish read? Or plain fun? Dish!

4 thoughts on “Recomendation – The Most Difficult Novels. How Many Have You Read?

Add yours

  1. Beowulf – that was freshman, college. old english next to it modern english. it wasn’t a very good translation. i had enough german to muddle through the old english.
    next was a tail of two cities, that was 10th or 11th grade. my thematic maturity wasn’t developed enough for it.


    1. A tough one, for sure. And not always exciting enough to motivate me to slog through. Now Dickens? That’s easy. Love them all. Have you read Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Hardy. A ful;l five thumbs up from me.


      1. that’s one i haven’t read. although my library once exceeded 4000 volumes, when i moved i pared it down to under a thousand and 99.9% of that is in storage. btw im looking at a boat in NC. i may need to discuss the area with you.


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