Top Ten Tuesday #159


Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been having a good week, it’s been pretty quiet on my end, just a lot of reading and TV, my usual summer activities.

Anyway, since it’s now Tuesday, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we’re meant to be talking Books We Disliked But Are Glad We Read, however I am a bitter soul and tend not to be glad about reading things I don’t enjoy, because I just think about all of the things that I could have read and enjoyed with the time I spent reading the books that I didn’t enjoy. So I’m twisting the topic slightly and talking about Books That Were Hard For Me To Read But I’m Glad I Read. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like them, quite the opposite, these books are actually some of my favourites, I just found them quite difficult to read because I found them very emotional. So here we go, Books That Were Hard For Me To Read But I’m Glad I Read:

  1. Between Shades of Grey-Ruta Sepetys

I very rarely physically cry at books. Don’t know why, I cry at movies all the time, but books? Not so much. However, as soon as I read the line “That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch”, there were tears and I knew this was going to be a really difficult book for me to read. I’m so glad I did though, often we focus so much on what Hitler did in WWII that we forget that Stalin was just as awful. I had been studying Russia in my History A-Level the year I was reading this, so this was a great book for me to be reading at the time in that respect, but boy it wasn’t an easy read. Still, despite how harrowing the subject was, the hope that Lina and her family have, even after everything that happens to them is truly inspirational.

2. Rose Under Fire-Elizabeth Wein

This was my last read, and it was definitely not an easy one. I’m glad I read it, because I think it’s really important that we remember the Holocaust and all of the horrible things that the Nazis did to people both during and before WWII, but it was by no means easy to read about. Much like Between Shades of Grey, I actually cried whilst reading this, I cared so much about what happened to Rose and her friends, and I didn’t want to see them suffering in the way they did, and just knowing that it actually happened to thousands of real women, made it infinitely worse. So yup, not easy but very important and I’m glad I read it.

3. The Book Thief-Markus Zusak

I’m sensing a theme going here? Okay, okay, I promise these won’t all be WWII books, they just lend themselves particularly well to my take on this week’s topic. The Book Thief is one of my absolute favourite books ever, so of course I’m glad I read it, but that doesn’t mean I found it an easy read, it’s incredibly emotional especially towards the end.

4. Asking For It-Louise O’Neill

The subject matter of this book is all about rape, so of course I found it hard to read, it’s not supposed to be an easy thing to read about. I also really hated the main character, but you weren’t meant to like her, rape is something that can happen to girls regardless of how nice you are, regardless of how sympathetic you are and I was glad Louise O’Neill showed that. This book made me so angry, it makes me angry that girls still get told they were “asking for it” if they drink, if they wear provocative clothing, if they have “too much” sex. So yeah, this was definitely a hard book for me to read, but I think it’s a really important one, especially given all the discussions surrounding consent and the #metoo and #timesup movements that have been going on this year.

5. Noughts and Crosses-Malorie Blackman

Again, this is one of my favourite books, Noughts and Crosses was my first real foray into YA books and it’s one that remains close to my heart, but it’s definitely not an easy read. It’s a dystopia in that it’s kind of an alternate version of our world, had things worked out differently, but the actual world? The racism? Yup, definitely not fictional, so that is incredibly difficult to read about and hits very close to home. Plus the ending. I am still not over that ending. It’s been ten years since I first read the book. Yup, not over it. Still I’m really glad I read it because it handles multitudes of difficult topics and was my entrance into YA. Plus I reread it in 2016 for the first time in a number of years and it still really holds up.

6. The Storyteller-Jodi Picoult

Yup another Holocaust story jumping onto my list, but what can I say? They certainly have a way of punching you in the gut, multiple times and causing you to become a huge puddle of feelings. The Storyteller is slightly different because it follows a survivor’s granddaughter coming face to face with one of the men responsible for the awful things that happened to her grandmother and asking her to kill him. It also intertwines the narrative of her grandmother’s experience in Auschwitz. Sage’s story didn’t get to me much, but Minka’s? That one really hit me. It’s never easy reading accounts of the Holocaust, even fictional ones, but I’m always really glad when I do, because they’re always really powerful stories. One of my favourite quotes from a book comes from this one and it hits right at the heart of why I love History; “History isn’t about the dates, and the places and the wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them”. People is why I have been studying this subject for years of my life and will continue to have an interest in it long after my degree course ends.

7. Under Rose Tainted Skies-Louise Gornall

I did enjoy this book, but again, not an easy book to read. Norah’s thought processes are incredibly intense and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t have OCD, anxiety or agoraphobia, a lot of the time when I was reading this book I felt like I needed to put it down to remind myself how to breathe, because it was that intense being inside Norah’s head. Having said that, I’m really glad I read it because as someone who doesn’t have a mental illness, I can never hope to fully understand what it’s like, but books like this give me at least a small insight (especially since the author is writing from her own experience), so for that I am grateful.

8. Charlotte Says-Alex Bell

In a slightly different turn, it was the horror aspects of this story that made it a difficult read for me. There were a lot of quite graphic scenes in there, including one that involved needles which was pretty bad for me because I have a pretty severe phobia of them. There was some abuse and animal abuse and murder, and yeah it was quite dark, so much as I enjoyed the story, it wasn’t the easiest for me to read.

9. Challenger Deep-Neal Shusterman

I loved this book, but again, it was not an easy one to read. Much as I found it an eye opening look into the thought processes of someone with schizophrenia, it is pretty intense watching Caden descend deeper and deeper into his mental illness, and it was my third pretty intense book in a row by that point. Still, I’m glad I read it because I have literally never read any other schizophrenia based books before and it’s a mental illness that I probably wouldn’t have known anything about had I not done Psychology at A-Level, so it makes me glad to know that books like this are out there because I feel like we don’t know all that much about schizophrenia and there should definitely be tools out there to help people understand what those who suffer from it go through.

10. Small Great Things-Jodi Picoult

This one was quite hard because it involved confronting your own hidden prejudices and that is never easy and also everything to do with white supremacy made me flaming mad, so I spent a decent proportion of the book quite angry. I think it is a really important book to read though, I’m much more aware of my privilege now, it’s not something I really thought about much before reading this book, at least not in more than a passing way and I’m definitely more aware of it now.

So there you go, 10 Books That I Found Hard To Read But Am Glad I Read. Apparently the books I find hard to read come under either the category of WWII, mental illness or racism, aside from one, so that’s interesting! But it’s weird, a lot of the books that I find hard to read actually end up being favourites of mine! Anyway, have you read any of these? Did you find them hard to read? Did you enjoy them? Or no? Have you ever read any books that were really hard to read but still been glad you read them? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Best Character Names, so I don’t know if I’ll do like a mix of the nice and the ridiculous, or just the nice, or the truly awful, but I guess you’ll see next week!

In the meantime, I should definitely have some book reviews up for you very soon as I’m near the end of two books (the May rush has hit!) and hopefully some writing posts as well, so stay tuned for those!

73 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday #159

  1. Shayna R 15/05/2018 / 5:48 pm

    I haven’t actually read any of these, so I can’t comment on that exactly, but I like what you did with the topic. I do have The Book Thief on my list though, and hope to get to it soon. I would agree that it’s difficult to be happy about reading something you hated, which is why I split my list up into two categories.

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:29 am

      Thank you. The Book Thief is brilliant, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (well maybe enjoy is the wrong word, but it is a beautiful story). Yeah that was a good way of doing it.

  2. Viki 15/05/2018 / 6:41 pm

    Great list. I had a hard time with Between shades of grey as well but overall it’s a beautiful story.

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:28 am

      Thank you! Yes it was a beautiful story, but so emotional!

  3. readinginthewings 15/05/2018 / 7:11 pm

    This was so smart! I struggled with this week’s theme too! I only did a Top 8! haha I love this twist you did. Great post πŸ™‚

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:27 am

      Thanks! Yeah it was definitely a tough one, much easier to do it this way.

  4. Louise 15/05/2018 / 7:13 pm

    WWII books in general just don’t work for me. I think maybe we overstudied them in high school. There’s a few (including Wein’s) which sound really interesting, but the time-period just sinks it for me.

    • iloveheartlandx 15/05/2018 / 7:15 pm

      I mean that’s fair! For me, I love them because there’s so much stuff to be explored just in those few years and I actually think historical authors box themselves in a little by generally going for the Holocaust/Germany and not exploring the effects of the war on other places. That’s one of the reasons I loved Between Shades of Grey so much, it’s WWII but a totally different country’s history!

      • Louise 15/05/2018 / 7:44 pm

        I might have to look up Between Shades of Grey then! πŸ™‚

  5. lifewithallthebooks 15/05/2018 / 7:14 pm

    I totally agree about Asking For It – I found the main character unpleasant but like you say I think that was intentional and it’s such an important topic but yes, definitely not an easy read! Great list! 😊

  6. Jess Gofton (@JGofton) 15/05/2018 / 7:24 pm

    I love your twist on this week’s topic! Noughts & Crosses is one of my favourites and you’re not alone – I’ll never be over that ending. The Book Thief made me cry, too, and Between Shades of Grey, Rose Under Fire and Asking For It are all on my TBR – I just need to prepare myself for their content before I read them. Great list!

    • iloveheartlandx 15/05/2018 / 9:57 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one when it comes to that. Yeah they’re both so sad. I hope you,….enjoy’s maybe the wrong word, but I hope you take as much from them as I did.

  7. lindseyhabets 15/05/2018 / 8:00 pm

    Great take on the topic! The Book Thief is one of my favorite reads as well, but it was definitely a tough one so I probably won’t be re-reading it too often…

    • iloveheartlandx 15/05/2018 / 9:54 pm

      Thank you! Yeah, maybe only once every few years for that one…..

  8. rantsandravesofabibliophile 15/05/2018 / 8:06 pm

    I started Under Rose Tainted Skies but never finished it. It’s not a DNF for me, but I keep telling myself I will pick up later. Being a mood reader sucks sometimes, lol.

  9. Leslie 15/05/2018 / 8:07 pm

    What a great topic!! I agree about sooo many of these! Have a great week!

  10. mtwilsonhasablog 15/05/2018 / 8:11 pm

    This is an interesting interpretation of the subject. The book I found hardest to read but am glad I read is The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. Its a brilliant book but I found it upsetting to read because the emotions it explores, relating to the death of a sibling at a young age (which I didn’t know before hand would be a focus of the book), hit the spot with my own experiences. It was a really difficult read but I think it was important for myself that I read it.

    • iloveheartlandx 15/05/2018 / 9:21 pm

      Thank you! Oh I’ve heard of that one, I think it won some awards a few years back? That’s wonderful, I’m glad it helped you even if it was hard.

  11. Greg Hill 15/05/2018 / 8:38 pm

    Rose Under Fire sounds awesome because yes remembering the Holocaust is so important, so totally agree. And Under Rose Tainted Skies was another one I wanted to read, and it slipped under my radar, so thanks for reminding me of that one! πŸ™‚

    • iloveheartlandx 15/05/2018 / 9:20 pm

      Yes, it was definitely good for that. No worries, hope you get to it soon!

  12. jolenewilsonblog 15/05/2018 / 9:10 pm

    I agree Between Shades of Grey is emotional. So is her other book Salt to the Sea. Great list.

    • iloveheartlandx 15/05/2018 / 9:18 pm

      It really is. I actually didn’t feel quite as emotional reading Salt To The Sea, the subject is sad, but the switching POVs meant I never really got to know any of the characters well enough to feel bad for them and I felt like the shipwreck chapters were rushed.

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  14. S.E. White 15/05/2018 / 11:13 pm

    Such a good list. I’ve read several of these and yep, I end up a blubbering mess at the end. Oh man, Between Shades of Grey! They’re painful to read but it’s important to do it anyway, acknowledge the pain, and use it to remember why I should be the first one saying “no” if history ever tries to repeat itself. Under Rose Tainted Skies sounds pretty interesting, I’ll have to look that up.

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:23 am

      Thank you! Yes, it absolutely is important that we read these kinds of books and make sure that what happened during WWII never happens again. Oh you definitely should, it’s a great book.

  15. kozbisa 15/05/2018 / 11:19 pm

    I cried during every WWII book I read, so they are hard for me too. I also find books with sexual assault hard and emotional reads. I was so drained after I finished I Stop Somewhere.

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:22 am

      Honestly I think it’s impossible not to be at least a little emotional at both of those topics!

  16. Nicole 15/05/2018 / 11:28 pm

    I’ve wanted to read The Book Thief, but have procrastinated it because I’ve been told it’s really sad. I guess it sounds worth it too, though, so maybe just buy a box of tissues specifically for when I read that one…

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:18 am

      Yeah just stock up on the tissues and you’ll be fine. The pain is totally worth it.

  17. Kelly W 16/05/2018 / 12:23 am

    Oh wow this is a list of Tough Stuff books… I have read exactly zero because I think some of the subject matter in most of them would be a bit much for me. I did try to pick up The Book Thief but the writing style didn’t work for me…

  18. lihobasalumito 16/05/2018 / 12:41 am

    Between Shades of Grey is such a well-written book but it’s so sad. I’ve been meaning to read the companion novel but I still haven’t gotten up the courage. I like your twist on the topic!

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:18 am

      Yes it is. The companion novel actually wasn’t as emotional for me, if that reassures you. Thank you!

  19. Aj @ Read All The Things! 16/05/2018 / 1:12 am

    I like your twist on the topic. The Book Thief destroyed me the first time I read it. Then I wrote my thesis on it for grad school and had to reread it a million times. Now I’m immune to its power.

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:15 am

      Thanks! Oh wow, that’s so cool, what was your thesis?

  20. Michelle (@PinkPlkaDotBlog) 16/05/2018 / 7:13 am

    ASKING FOR IT was soooo good– but yes, also so emotional and heart-hurting!! I feel the same way about most Jodi Picoult books. I haven’t read one in many years, but I went through a phase where I read like 5 of them and really liked them– and also cried a lot. Great list!

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:14 am

      It was, but yes, definitely emotional, probably not one I’ll be able to read again. Yes, she does have a way of writing very emotional books. Thank you!

  21. Kathy @ Books & Munches 16/05/2018 / 8:01 am

    I feel like sometimes the hardest emotional reads are some of the best. Haven’t read The Book Thief yet but I’m really looking forward to it since there are so many people absolutely raving about it. πŸ™‚

    • lilisblissfulpages 16/05/2018 / 8:47 am

      Hope you get your hands on it Kat.. It’s one of my all time favorites. πŸ™‚

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:11 am

      Oh definitely! It really is a gorgeous book, one of my favourites, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  22. lilisblissfulpages 16/05/2018 / 8:50 am

    I loved The Book Thief so much but I agree with you it’s a hard read. So emotional.. I read it when I was still fine with emotional stories. hehe…There are two Picoults in your list. She’s one of my fave authors but I havent read these two.. Will have them on my TBR.

    • iloveheartlandx 16/05/2018 / 11:09 am

      Yes, it’s a gorgeous book, but I nearly cried through like the entire last third of it. Oh they’re both really good, would definitely recommend, especially The Storyteller.

      • lilisblissfulpages 16/05/2018 / 12:57 pm

        i’ll definitely read it.. thanks for sharing your thoughts. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  23. alicerosesimmons 16/05/2018 / 3:29 pm

    Great list, and I love how you spun this weeks topic! The endings of both The Book Thief, and Noughts and Crosses hit my so hard that I am still not over either of them, and honestly don’t know if I ever will be. I also may have to pick up Between Shades of Grey soon, as I am actually currently studying the Soviet Union for my History A Level, so that definitely sounds like a good book to read hopefully soon πŸ™‚

    • iloveheartlandx 17/05/2018 / 9:50 am

      Thanks! Yes, same here. Oh yeah you definitely should read it then, I did the same thing and it was definitely great for having more of a background on what went on in the Soviet Union during WWII.

  24. pennma05 16/05/2018 / 6:23 pm

    Between Shades of Gray was so sad! Really hard to not get emotional when reading a book that tragic.

  25. Amanda Holmes 16/05/2018 / 9:31 pm

    Excellent thoughts on the WWII stories. They are hard to read, but it’s also important not to forget.

    • iloveheartlandx 17/05/2018 / 9:48 am

      Thanks. Yes, no matter how emotional I find them, I always remind myself that it must have been much worse to live it.

  26. halliereadit 16/05/2018 / 10:18 pm

    I love your spin on the weekly topic, this was such an interesting list!

  27. ChrissiReads 17/05/2018 / 6:39 pm

    Love your take on the topic this week! All very tough books

    • iloveheartlandx 20/05/2018 / 9:55 am

      Thank you! Yes, but in my opinion very worth it πŸ™‚

  28. foreverlostinlit 17/05/2018 / 10:27 pm

    The Book Thief is the only one here that I’ve read, but a lot of these sound really interesting to me. I also really love how you did this topic. Challenger Deep also sounds particularly interesting. These all definitely sound like difficult books to read.

    • iloveheartlandx 20/05/2018 / 9:55 am

      I would definitely recommend any of these, they’re hard, but they are worth it!

  29. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku 18/05/2018 / 6:55 pm

    I love the twist you put on this TTT. People don’t do this often enough, in my opinion. Great list, Jo! I totally agree with you about Between Shades of Gray and The Book Thief. Asking for It is on my book club list for next month… I’m a bit anxious already!

    • iloveheartlandx 20/05/2018 / 9:53 am

      Thank you! I usually do it when I’m not overly keen on the original topic, but I do find it quite fun to put my own little spin on things. They’re both so sad and yet I love them so much. I’d say I hope you enjoy it, but enjoy is really the wrong word, so I’ll go with I hope you found it as eye opening as I did.

  30. Kay Wisteria 18/05/2018 / 11:11 pm

    Great list! I really want to read The Book Thief!!

    • iloveheartlandx 20/05/2018 / 9:49 am

      Thank you! Oh you definitely should, it’s so good πŸ™‚

  31. Destiny @ Howling Libraries 19/05/2018 / 6:42 am

    I love your spin on the topic this week! There are definitely some books that are TOUGH to read, but worth it!

    • iloveheartlandx 20/05/2018 / 9:48 am

      Thank you! Yes I always find those the best ones πŸ™‚

  32. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight 21/05/2018 / 12:34 am

    I love your twist on the topic! And I happen to agree with a LOT of your choices. Asking For It, wow that one kills me. Because everything about it is awful, and yet it’s a phenomenal book. Have you read Only Ever Yours? It might actually be harder to read, or at least tied, but wow. And I also feel you with The Book Thief and Challenger Deep! And I assume that if I read the others, they’d be brutal (but worth it!) too!

    • iloveheartlandx 21/05/2018 / 4:00 pm

      Thanks! Yes, it is such a gruelling book, but so wonderful. I haven’t actually, I’ll be reading it in preparation for YALC this summer though. Those two are both incredibly brutal yes. Oh they are but they are so good too!

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