Top 10 most difficult books

Add a little ‘degree of difficulty’ to your summer reading plans.  A recent blog post lists the Top 10 most difficult books to read.  Of course ‘difficult’ is in the eye of the beholder.   Here’s the list, click on the title to see Rentschler Library’s holdings:

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Waste Land – T.S. Eliot

Naked Lunch – William Burroughs

The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce

If you’re interested in seeing other lists, there’s the Modern Library 100 Best Novels – a version by readers and a version by the experts.   The British publication The Guardian also has a top 100 list.

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6 responses to “Top 10 most difficult books

  1. Ulysses by James Joyce. In one sentence he references an obscure story in Numbers, a precept of Aristotle’s views on history, a little known Italian philosopher, a character from popular fiction of the time, and an issue concerning 19th century Irish politics… War and Peace is just long. Atlas Shrugged is hard to read because Ayn Rand was such a close-minded, unimaginative old lady

  2. I’m surprised ‘Deal Souls’ didn’t come up on the list. I found that reasonable challenging, then again I’m only 15! I began to tackle Moby Dick yesterday – wish me luck!

  3. As an English Major, this list made me smile and cringe at the same time. I think Moby Dick was the hardest for me, but Sound and the Fury made me tear my hair out too (why is it that he wrote it so we have to read it twice??).

  4. Kate Rousmaniere

    I’ve been meaning to read War and Peace and Moby Dick forever. I worry more about them being LONG then about their degree of difficulty. But I suppose length is it’s own challenge.

    • Kate,

      I started to read War and Peace once and liked it. It’s not especially difficult reading, but I gave up several hundred pages in when Tolstoy goes off on a tangent Re: some historical/political point relating to the battles. Someday I’ll pick it up again, I hope.

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