Ten books that intimidate me

Hello! This is (obviously) a bookish post, so if that’s not your cup of tea feel free to ignore it and come back another day. Those of you that are still around can pull up a pew and we’ll talk books…



All of the following books area actually sitting on the bookshelves in my living room right now – some of them actually moved to Switzerland with me – but, for whatever reason, I haven’t yet got round to reading any of them. Some I bought just because, a few are on the BBC Big Read and at least one was a gift. What they all have in common is that they intimidate me… which you of course knew because you read the title. *Sigh* I’ll just get on with the list shall I?

1 It by Stephen King

I absolutely love Stephen King. Whenever I rattle off my favourite authors, he’s always right there on the list. I even wrote an essay about Needful Things back in school, and if forced to list my favourite books (an almost impossible task) I would definitely include The Green Mile. So I actually really want to read It. But every time I see it sitting on my shelf with it’s more than 1,300 pages I freak out and grab something else.

2 Ulysses by James Joyce

A BBC Big Read one. Technically so is It, but I would have put that on my list anyway whereas I bought Ulysses purely for the sake of the list. I’m not actually 100% sure what it’s about, other than somehow being somehow related to The Odyssey? At just over 900 pages it’s slightly shorter than It but somehow even more terrifying! What if I don’t understand it and end up feeling like an idiot?  Aaah!

3 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

My grandparents gave me The Man in the Iron Mask, also by Dumas, for my birthday when I was something like 14 and I really enjoyed it, so you would think I’d be excited about this one. At over 1,000 pages, once again it’s the length that scares me. I actually like big books though, so I have no idea what my problem is…

4 The Godfather by Mario Puzo

This one is also on the BBC Big Read list – I doubt I would ever have picked it up otherwise. I like thrillers and I like crime, so this one should be right up my street. And it’s not even that long in relation to the three I’ve mentioned so far. But something about the Mafia just doesn’t really appeal. (I’ve never seen the films either by the way, in case anyone was wondering.)

5 H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction

Jan and I picked this up from the John Rylands Library gift shop in Manchester a few years ago. It’s leather bound with shiny page edges and it’s just gorgeous. This one is novellas and short stories, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to at least start it, but something keeps putting me off.

6 Map of a Nation by Rachel Hewitt

Ah, the first non-fiction book on my list. This is essentially the story of how the Ordnance Survey map came to be. I bought it for Jan as a Christmas gift years ago because he’s really interested in maps and then later also bought it for my dad, who reported that it was fascinating (Jan still hasn’t read it!). I’m always useless with non-fiction though, and where 400 and odd pages would be nothing in a novel, every time I think I might read this book I put it back because it seems really long.

7 Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke

A German one now – you will know it as Inkheart, book one of the Inkworld series. This was a Christmas gift from Jan’s mum way too many years ago… I remember lending it to our very first English intern at work when I’d only been there a couple of years myself! This is a book about books, and about characters in books coming to life. It really couldn’t be any more perfect for me. And I’ve read enough adult books in German for a children’s book not to be an issue… so why do I back off immediately when I happen to spot this one on my shelf?

8 The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

I bought this a few years ago intending to read it for a book challenge, but I ended up switching to something else instead. Since then, I’ve had this one in my hand a few times, but always put it back thinking I would prefer to read something shorter. Ironically, this one is only 560 pages – certainly not long enough to be scared of!

9 Ukraine’s Orange Revolution by Andrew Wilson

More non-fiction. At only 256 pages, this one should be a quick enough read and I genuinely do want to read more about my granddad’s country (even if the events of the book happened long after he left, and in fact many years after his death). Alas,  choose fiction over politics and history almost every time!

10 Blasmusikpop by Vea Kaiser

Finally, another German one. I actually went to a reading of this book, and enjoyed the extract so much that I bought a book at the event and had the author sign it. I’m pretty sure I will love this book when I finally actually get round to reading it, but every time I see it staring accusingly at me from the shelf I hastily choose something else to read. Maybe my reluctance to read this one is precisely because I’ve left it so long?

I have more intimidating books on my shelves, but ten is quite enough for one post! So, have you read any of these? Care to reassure me that they’re not as scary as I’ve built them up to be? (Or alternatively tell me that they’re really hard to read my reluctance is justified!) Do you own any books that you find intimidating but actually really want to give a chance? Answers in the comments! Or, you know, just write your own post and I’ll come and have a nosy.


13 thoughts on “Ten books that intimidate me

  1. I enjoyed the Count of Monte Cristo very much, and it’s one I would read again. Tintenherz was on my list years ago, but I never got round to it and then left it when I moved. Silly me. And yes, I have books on my shelves that intimidate me!

    I see you’re reading Pillars of the Earth – loved it! My last post is similar to this one – books that are on my plan – and I’m making progress! However, the one I just finished was not on the list. You know how that goes.

  2. “The count of Monte cristo” is on my intimidating list, mainly because I want to read it in French. Then there is “clarissa” by Samuel Richardson, which is over 1500 pages. I’m reluctant to start it, put it down because of life, and then have to reread from the beginning months later because I’ve forgotten what happened.

      1. Well I speak no German so I think that the German books on your list are incredibly impressive! I would love to read it, but, at the moment I haven’t even taken the plunge of buying it. One day…!

  3. First of all, I’m shocked that there are some books you haven’t yet read 😉😂 I also have Ulysses on my list. I love Joyce but I just really can’t face even starting this book because I feel like I am doomed to fail. I also have Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell in the basement that I have had for ages and ages but I read a book of short stories by Susanne Clarke and I really didn’t like it so it’s completely put me off! 😩

    1. You’ve seen where my weaknesses lie 😉 I still have lots of classics and most non-fiction to get through. Also most things published in the past year because I hate paying full price. But other than that I’ve basically read everything 😂😂 (I wish!).

      Ooh, Jan picked up the Mr Norrell book about 8 years ago and has read maaaaybe a quarter. I’m still avoiding that one.

  4. I’m not sure I’m what you’d call “intimidated” by books, but we have lots I don’t want to read – mostly books that Mr FD has bought – because the subject matter doesn’t appeal. Our tastes do cross over, but there’s a large space on his side of stuff I’m not really interested in. The Jasper Fforde books, for example.
    I suppose I’m slightly intimidated by one of the books I’m reading at the moment- “Les feux de la Liberté” – It’s in French. I’m enjoying it, but as it takes me about 2 hours to read 5 pages it’s taking quite a long time. I’m on page 30! I do need to force myself into my reading chair to start, but once I do, I can get on with it. Dictionary is definitely necessary!

    1. I was thinking along the lines of books you do want to read but for whatever reason feel reluctant to just pick them up and get on with it. They could be intimidating for various reasons: the length, the fact that it’s a classic or the hype surrounding it. Just not being interested is different to me – Jan has a few non-fiction books that I haven’t read because I simply don’t care, but those ones don’t intimidate me. I suppose if there was a book I HAD to read for a course or something then I might find a lack of interest intimidating because I would know I couldn’t just not read it, but thinking about how much I expected to hate it would intimidate me. Usually if I expect to hate a book I just won’t read it.

  5. I am with you on Ulysses. I can’t even parse the famous “yes I said yes I will yes” paragraph that’s shows up on pinterest and I feel that if I can’t understand a pinterest quote (where do I pause?) there is NO HOPE for me understanding the book.

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