Tuesday 8 November 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday! I am back, after that one week I was away, and oh my how I missed you. Actually, I didn't that much because I had no input for last week's top ten, so really, I'm ok. I can't be bothered to think of a good preamble for this week's list because I'm writing this on Monday afternoon when in mere hours I'll be going to see Red Hot Chili Peppers at the O2 in London, so I'm too excited to even type properly! Be jealous as you peruse the books I read that were uncomfortable...

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!


  1. Oh I'd forgotten about Perfume. That book was so weird. Good, but definitely weird.

    Your reasoning for Anna Karenina is exactly why I haven't read it yet. I will, one day soon, and I'm fairly certain I'll like it (or at least appreciae it) but it's such a daunting prospect.

  2. Lol love your reasoning for Anna Karenina. I had to read it for my lit degree and I'd purposely avoided all Russian lit up until then! I enjoyed it even though the smacking me over the head with Russian peasant/farming politics got a bit much!

  3. Perfume made my list too. It was just so weird! But like a train wreck, I just couldn't look away.

  4. Ooooo Red Hot Chili Peppers! FUN!


    Gonna read Handmaid's Tale someday. Yeah. Someday. ALSO, I have a hard time with Winterson. I don't get her appeal. Nope.

  6. Red Hot Chili Peppers, nice :)

    American Psycho was def a book out of my comfort zone, only I didn't realize that until after I'd already started it and oh those murders...

  7. I love that Lord of the Rings led you to stuff like the Dark Tower series! I think the LOTR trilogy was one of the first big fantasy reads I picked up as well. Hard to believe there was ever a time I didn't read a ton of it!

  8. American Psycho is one of my favorite books ever. It is probably not out of my comfort zone though, to be honest. Sexing the Cherry and The Handmaid's Tale both were definitely out of my comfort zone but I loved them both. Someday I will read Anna Karenina . . .

  9. I feel like now I want to read Perfume because you and a few of the commenters say it's so weird :-) My "non-comfort" zone is pretty huge - pretty much all non-fiction.

  10. @Kayleigh- I loved Anna Karenina SO much. But it is scary. I just took it slow, read it over a few (ie loads of) weeks, and it was ok. Also, I loved this main character guy, which helped!

    @1girl- To be completely honest, I skipped all the farming bits, but I did enjoy the peasant stuff- like, 'ooh, are they happy, are there any indicators of the 1917 revolution' etc etc, but I'm a nerd :)

    @Sarah- SO MUCH FUN! AND I mastered the art of sitting down dancing because the seats at the O2 are scarily steep and dangerous, which was AWESOME.

    @Rambo- I HATE PAMELA AND I WANT IT TO DIE! For reals. And thank you for not getting Winterson's appeal! I love Oranges are not the Only Fruit, but Sexing the Cherry sucked HARD. I'm going to read these other two books I have by her for the GLBT challenge, but after that I am so DONE with her. Oh yeah, and The Handmaid's Tale? I insist you read it right this very second!

    @Red- My main aim in life is to unbachelorise Anthony Kiedis, even though he's like 4 years younger than my dad. Also, they fucking rock the whole world (or at least mine... hehe). And oh, American Psycho... I am so so scarred...

    @Tanya- I'm not really one for non-fiction, other than biographies and feministy type reads, but I wouldn't necessarily say non-fiction was outside of my comfort zone- I know people who read only non-fiction though, and I can't deal with them, because that's just weird!

  11. I just couldn't get into Anna Karenina. Good for you for sticking with it.
    Here's my Post

  12. I haven't read many of these...or even heard of a few (did I just admit that?), but I will say I felt the same way about The Handmaid's Tale. But it is such a good book! I will be requiring myself to read more Atwood in the future.

  13. Yep, Burroughs. I don't even get it. Maybe if I was on drugs (not that I plan to be anytime soon). I do really like Tristram Shandy though.

    Laura @ The Scarlet Letter.

  14. Awesome list!!! Extra stars for Anna Karenina and Mrs. Dalloway