Last year I shared 5 of the biggest SFF books on my TBR, which, while I also really wanted to read them, their sheer size made them really intimidating. I’ve come up with another list of books I’m intimidated by, but the length of them is not the only reason.
It might be the genre or the contents, but all of the books listed here are ones that I find really hard to reach for. Which is also weirdly ironic, because they’re all books I’d really love to read.
But I think sometimes a book can be on your radar too much, or be so hyped that it’s that much harder to read in case it doesn’t live up to your expectations. I want to love all these books, but for various reasons, I might not, and that’s a little scary.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I have a weird relationship with the classics. I studied English literature in University, and so I understand the importance of a lot of these books, but they’re also written for a very different time and audience. Sometimes you just don’t enjoy ’em. Of course, in spite of that, there are some that look like books I’d really enjoy, or that would really affect me personally, regardless of how long ago they were written. Little Women falls into that category. I have only a rough idea of what it’s about, and I’m pretty sure I’ll love it when I do get around to reading it, but not all classics are easily digestible for a modern audience.
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
I’ve had this book for years after I found it at the dollar store in near perfect condition. I only paid a paltry $2.00 for it, but I have been so intimidated by the sheer size of this book, I have yet to pick it up. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and despite numerous book unhauls I’ve done over the years, I can’t seem to get rid of it. But I also don’t have the guts to read it either, especially since the YA of the early 2010s doesn’t always work for me.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
I can’t be the only one who only heard of this book when the movie was announced, but I was immediately intrigued. It’s a story of seemingly disparate characters throughout time, whose lives are connected in ways we might not expect. It sounds completely weird and genre-bendy, and something that I would absolutely love to read. And I do, but when weird books like this pop up and seem to be everything I look for in a story, I’m more than a little wary, because that never seems to be true. And I really want to like this book. I’ve heard the movie wasn’t very good, but hopefully that doesn’t mean the source material is the same.
Ship of Theseus by J.J. Abrams, Doug Dorst and V.M. Straka
I’m always drawn to books that are very meta – stories within stories, or about other stories – the literary form of a matryoshka doll. Probably because I am a story-teller myself I naturally find them interesting and would be more drawn to them than the average reader. And a story that takes place within the margins of another story just sends my academically-inclined heart into space, especially since I love to write in book margins myself. Then again, I don’t know how much J.J. Abrams had a hand in writing this, and I have conflicting opinions about his work. Some of his stuff I absolutely love, and others I find sloppy. I hope this is more the former than the latter.
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Time travel books don’t always sit well with me. Maybe I spend too much time thinking about the ramifications of said travel, but I find they are some of the hardest books to read. But the Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis is one of the staples of good time travel fiction, and while I’ve attempted to read it a few times now, I always back out. Add to that the descriptions of the book tend to be pretty vague. On the whole, reviews seem pretty positive so it should be something I enjoy. Maybe I have to be more in the mood for this sort of book, but I just can’t commit to reading it.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I mentioned this already, but I can’t help but be drawn to books about books. I love books that explore the power of storytelling. It’s something that is so fundamental to my life, and maybe that’s why I treat these books with more caution than I should. And I know that the subject matter of The Book Thief is intense – as most books about World War II are. I don’t doubt that it’ll be an emotional read, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting epic fantasy and I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book. But I’ve also heard that it pulls no punches and is thoroughly brutal, and I’m while I’m fine with a bit of grit in my books and I enjoy seeing darker themes play out, I have a limit, and everything I hear about The Poppy War makes me think that this book is going to push it. It’s definitely something I need to be ready to stomach when I do decide to pick it up.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
What is this book even about? A horror story about a house that is bigger on the inside, much like the story itself which comes with footnotes and appendices. It’s also a hefty book at 700 pages. But I can’t resist a good psychological horror story, so the strangeness of this one is also the appeal. But it also sounds like a bit of a weird one – the story and the format – and those sorts of books tend to be hit or miss for me.
Dig. by A.S. King
I’ve heard a lot about A.S. King – some good, and some bad. But I also love magical realism, and A.S. King is heralded as one of the subgenre’s finest writers. I think she’s one of the authors whose writing you love or you don’t, and I’m just not ready to find out which side I fall on yet. Especially since a lot of her books just sound really cool, Dig most of all. I really want to love it.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
So, The Night Circus is one of my favourite books of all time, and I’ve been keenly anticipating the next book from Morgenstern. The Starless Sea looks like everything I love in a book, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. But that also makes me really nervous about reading it. What if I don’t love it? What if it doesn’t live up to the hype? I’m being irrational because I love Morgenstern’s writing, and I hear only positive things about the book, but I’m so afraid I won’t love (or even worse, dislike) the book, that I keep putting it off.
Will I ever get the courage to read the books on this list? I can only hope so. Maybe with time, they won’t seem quite as intimidating!
Are there any books on your TBR that you’re intimidated by? What is it that makes them so intimidating? How did you overcome it? Let me know in the comments!