Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt can be interpreted in a variety of ways. I chose some books that were difficult for me to read for a few different reasons: subject matter, books that hit very close to home, and books with a high difficulty level (for me).

1. Still Alice by Lisa Genova. A brilliant Harvard professor is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 50. Its first person perspective makes watching her decline all the more terrifying.

2. Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes. Stories behind the violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. I went through the whole gamut of emotions reading this one.

3. Room by Emma Donoghue. Five-year-old Jack and his mother live in a eleven-by-eleven-foot space. His mother was kidnapped seven years prior, so this tiny space is all Jack has ever known. The story goes beyond that but… yeah. Still.

4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Nine-year-old Oskar lost his father in the September 11 attacks. He’s searching for a lock that matches a key that belonged to his father. Oskar is the narrator, he’s a bit hard to follow, and really it all just added to the heartbreak of the book’s premise.

Sometimes you pick up difficult memoirs because you need the sense of camaraderie they offer:

5. She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Transgender memoir; I needed to understand what a loved one was going through.

6. Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake. Infertility memoir.

7. Half Baked by Alexa Stevenson. Preemie mom memoir.

It probably goes without saying that my most challenging reads, difficulty-wise, have been when I’ve read in a language besides English.

8. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. I read part of this (I think it was just Paradiso) in Host Nation class in 8th grade when I lived in Italy. I’d only been there a year, so this was a huge stretch for me. So much so that I barely remember a thing.

9. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Read this in Spanish III in high school.

10. Il Grande Albero by Susanna Tamaro. This was my first Italian read in over 20 years and the first time reading in another language without a teacher or classmates to help me wade through it.

Tell me: What book was the hardest for you to read (for whatever reason) and why?