Amazing books that are difficult to read.

by Todd Foley

“Have you ever read [title]?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Whaaaat?! You HAVE to read it, it will change your life!”

Ever found yourself in this exchange and then, following the recommender’s advice, struggled to read through said book? I sure have.

I had heard that Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov was one of the best novels ever written, so I put it on my Christmas list in 2008. Four years later, I finally finished it. By far one of the most compelling novels I have ever read; however, it didn’t hook me in until page 400 – and I hated the time it took to get there.

I greatly struggled to make sense of the translated Russian prose. More than anything, though, I didn’t realize until well into the story that each character had multiple nicknames, which didn’t help the fact that the names so many names seemed so similar to each other. Even when I found myself blown away by the dialogue, how was I to keep track of who was saying what? I wanted to quit. To read something more accessible. To read something that I actually enjoyed.

Needless to say, as I got closer and closer to the dramatic climax, I found myself turning pages faster and faster. The characters increasingly came to life as the story crescendoed. When I finally finished it yesterday, I had to walk away and sit in silence for quite some time, reflecting on the novel’s piercing implications to the human condition. Then, I smiled at the fact that I persevered through the story.

Have you ever quit reading a highly recommended book? Have you persevered through? What books have you trudged through and found it to be worth the work?