Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday: Books outside my comfort zone

 Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

It's been awhile since I've done a TTT and I think I picked a really interesting week to reappear! So in no particular order I present to you ten books that were outside my comfort zone.

1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita is a story about a grown male who is infatuated by a young girl, and goes to some extraordinary lengths to obtain her. It's really, really heavy going subject wise and more than once I felt incredibly queasy. Nabokov is an amazing writer, but I'm fairly certain this is one book I won't be revisiting.

2. Candy by Luke Davies
This is one of my all time favourite books, and when I get time to re-read it I'll definitely post a review. It's a harrowing and heart-wrenching tale of a couple who are united through their love for one another and for heroin. It's dark and rarely happy but beautifully written. It's been made into a fantastic film starring Geoffrey Rush and Heath Ledger (and a stellar Aussie cast) which you should also check out.

3. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
Another favourite book of mine, and once again a not so happy tale of life as a drug addict! It's dark and (god I hate this term) gritty, but what really challenged me was the Scottish dialect it was written in. It was hard-going but so worth it in the end. (you can read my review here)

4. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
If I had to describe my literary style in two words I'd say "beat generation." Not simply for their style of writing (although that's definitely a part of it) but because of the content, language and the oomph of it. However, I really struggled to stay on top of the stream of consciousness in On The Road. How do you stop and pick it back up after a day or two? I was constantly having to retrack my paths or devote huge blocks of time to get through it. But like all the other books, this challenge really added to the experience.

5. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
Another book up there with my favourites, this is possibly one of the best books written by Chuck Palahniuk. However the first short story, Guts, was so freaking disgusting (I nearly passed out when I read it on the train) that I had to gather all my courage (and read on an empty stomach) to be able to keep going. For any interested readers, none of the other stories are quite so stomach-churningly gross, so if you make it through Guts it'll be smooth sailing from then on!

6. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
I have a real aversion to Jane Austen. I've tried, over and over, to read her books but...I just can't. Ugh, it's so boring and dull and I just want to drill a hole in my head for something to do. Ha, so theatrics aside, I decided to challenge myself to get through the whole thing, but to make it more palatable I decided to take the route that included zombies. I won't be going back to read the original... (read my review here)

7. Powers of Horror: Essays on Abjection by Julia Kristeva
This book was an integral component of my thesis but it was so dense! It's written really beautifully (for a text on psychoanalysis) which seemed to lull me into thinking I understood it when I really had no idea!

8. Sandakan: A Conspiracy of Silence by Lynette Ramsay Silver
This is a non-fiction account of the Sandakan prison camps which were in operation during World War II. During the war there were a huge number of Australian soldiers incarcerated as POWs who were treated in the most inhumane and terrible ways possible. It was one of those eye-opening experiences for me and it hurt me to read about Australian soldiers starving and being tortured to death.

9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I've made no secret of my dislike of this series, I find the writing mediocre and it concerns me that this book (and books like it) promote this idea that intelligent girls need a boy to have some sort of direction or fulfillment in life. It was a real struggle, for me, to make it through the book.

Ok that's all I've got, for now. I'll add a final book if I can think about it. Which books pushed you out of your comfort zone?


  1. Oh Candy is a good one! I read that years ago now and it was very confronting. I haven't seen the movie yet, I really need to get around to that.

  2. Lolita seems to be huge this week...I don't know if that make me want to read it or avoid it...lol Happy Tuesday!

  3. Yeah, Lolita is one I'll probably only be reading once, too. I'm also not a huge fan of Austen, but I've read a few of her books just to say I have.

  4. That is interesting that you put P&P&Z! I was just telling another blogger that while I do love zombies and horror I haven't been able to bring myself to read PPZ just because it sounds so silly LOL! I might have to pick it up... but after I read the original version (never have!)

  5. A GIANT high five to you for your comments about Twilight ahahahahahahaha.


  6. So many people have read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I loved the original and can't pick this one up.Here's my Post

  7. I don't think I'll be reading Lolita. I'm intrigued by it. But, the subject terrifies me and I think my psyche wouldn't do well with it.

  8. I so agree with On the Road- I really like it, but it's written in a style that I haven't really encountered anywhere else = uncomfortable! Also, I really liked Lolita- I get the uncomfortableness, but really, I've read American Psycho, so anything that was once taboo really isn't anymore...

    Aaaaand, OMG I've seen Candy and it literally made me want to kill myself. I was doing a whole 'I love Heath and I want to watch all his films!' thing, and I really just wanted to DIE after watching Candy because that shit is bleak! So basically I'm going to skip the book, although I'm sure it is as beautifully written as you say!

  9. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the Twilight books...not my cup of tea.

  10. Thanks for stopping by everyone!

    @Laura, Candy takes place over a much longer time period (about 10 years I think) and isn't quite as bleak as the film. Well, it is, but there are more happy moments which sort of balances it out. Then again, it might be a tad too bleak!

    @Jenni and Andra, I went into Lolita knowing very little about it and I think that's the only thing that really got me through. If I'd known more about it, I probably would have avoided it too. Then again, subject content aside, it's a spectacularly written book, and when things got a little intense I tried to concentrate on the literary style over the content!

    @Mimi and GF, Gabe (Gabriel Reads) tried to read PP and the PP&Z in succession and said they were too much alike for it to be worthwhile. I haven't read the original (well not all the way through) but I'd probably recommend putting a little time between reading them.

    @April, glad I'm not the only one!

  11. @Kat, I know most bloggers don't agree with me, so it's good to know I'm not alone in that assessment!

  12. I had forgotten about Haunted, which made me super uncomfortable. Really good list. I love Lolita though, and have reread it.

    Laura @ The Scarlet Letter.



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