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:
- 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!