Finnegans Wake. House of LeavesManhattan Transfer. To the Lighthouse. I’ve spoken with people who are absolutely fanatical about these books. Then again, I know quite a few readers (mom, I’m looking at you!) who put them down after the first 25 pages and said, “To hell with it!”

Publishers Weekly just posted a list of the top 10 most difficult books of all time (in English)— books they described as “literary Mt. Everests waiting out there for you to climb.”

One man’s treasure is another man’s trash

Few people would actually agree 100% on a list like this. For me– To the Lighthouse, Nightwood, and The Faerie Queene were cake, but plenty of other books that didn’t make the list caused me to throw things.

So– what is it that makes a book “difficult” for you? What frustrates you to the point of putting a book down? Style, length, non-linear narratives, unreliable or shifting narrators? What books have you happily given up on? Which ones have you returned to later and been thankful for it?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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Chris Robley

About Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 563 posts in this blog.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

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