Tuesday 8 November 2011
Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Books I Read That Were Outside My Comfort Zone
1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy- Let's just say, Russian literature, 800 odd pages long and half as many characters as it seems like there are because they all have at least 2 names. I was not at all prepared to read a novel of such grand scope, and nor was I prepared for how fantastic it would be. Anna Karenina, above all other books, is one which encourages me to step out of my comfort zone more and more, because the discoveries such books promise far exceed the difficulty of reading them.
2. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne- Talk about outside my comfort zone- I could hardly understand this book. At all. In any way. It didn't exactly help that I had to read it in my second week at university, when I didn't know what the fuck was going on anyway! Attached to it was one of the most amusing lectures I've ever been to, but unfortunately that didn't even make this book palatable.
3. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf- This was beyond my comfort zone because it has a narrative that I definitely wasn't used to, but it was really great. I can only vaguely remember it now so it definitely requires a re-read, but I know that it was really good.
4. Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson- I think I might be being kind by describing this book as being outside of my comfort zone, when I fear that, actually, it might just have been crap, but nonetheless, I did feel out of my depth when I was reading pretty much most of it, and I was hugely relieved when it was over. A highly uncomfortable experience, so does that make it outside of my comfort zone?
5. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis- So the style of this book was fine and I had no problems with it, but it turns out I'm uncomfortable with minutely described murders of unsuspecting homeless people, prostitutes, children...
6. Pamela by Samuel Richardson- Published in 17-somthing, this was always going to be outside of my comfort zone because it was written before anyone knew how to write novels. This means that Pamela is overlong, whiny, and quite frankly just dreadful (most annoyingly of all, SPOILER Pamela marries her would be rapist and then falls quite dramatically in love with him because... they're married. Honestly, it's just appalling.) Pamela was, in fact, part of a University unit composed of books outside of my comfort zone, which made that 2 hour seminar on a Friday really fun, let me tell you!
7. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J R R Tolkein- When I read these books, they were outside of my comfort zone because I just hadn't really encountered adventure/fantasy stories of such magnificent scope before. They are, of course, awesome, and kind of encouraged a widening of my comfort zone, opening the door to stuff like The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, which is really the best consequence of venturing outside ones own comfort zone.
8. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood- Again, I'm not really sure if this was outside of my comfort zone because I enjoy a good dystopia, but it certainly made me uncomfortable just with the concept of the world that was created in it. In fact, it made me cry about it. More than once. I still highly recommend it though.
9. Perfume by Patrick Suskind- I have to assume that this book is outside everyone's comfort zone because it's just so... strange feeling, good as I thought it was. Another one of those Anna Karenina types, in that it fully encouraged me to push the boundaries of what I was willing to read.
10. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs- So far beyond my comfort zone that I had to put it down after about 4 pages. I just can't... there's no... it's so... See, I can't even describe it, yet alone read it. It has defeated me, for now, but I will read it one day because, you know, I own it and it wouldn't be good not to read it... right?
So there are my uncomfortable books, how about you? Do you now think I'm a pleb for having such a crappy comfort zone? Or has my bravery in reading these books astounded you? Do let me know!