For Those of You Read for the Challenge of It

Goodreads, an Amazon company and “social cataloging” website, recently ranked the 200 hardest to read novels.

So naturally I was curious to see if I had successfully struggled my way through any of the top novels, and here’s what I found when I looked at the top 10 books on the list:

  1. Ulysses (started, never got very far)
  2. Finnegan’s Wake (never read)
  3. The Sound and the Fury (never read)
  4. Moby Dick (started but never finished, but that didn’t stop me from turning in a book report about Moby Dick in college, for which I got a “D”)
  5. Gravity’s Rainbow (never heard of)
  6. War and Peace (started, never got very far)
  7. One Hundred Years of Solitude (never heard of)
  8. Crime and Punishment (read, loved it)
  9. Heart of Darkness (never heard of)
  10. Infinite Jest (never heard of)

So of the 10 hardest books to read, I have only completed one of them. There are also a few books on the list that I have started, but never finished.

I don’t know if this means that I’m not up to the challenge of reading difficult books, but being a competitive person, this listing has motivated me to want to read the rest of the books in the top 10. (I did fare better with the next group of 10 books, having read four of those.)

I’d estimate that I finish over 95% of the books that I start, but in those rare cases where I don’t finish a book, I view that as a failure on my part.

The list of books I’ve started but have not finished, besides the ones noted above, include Einstein (by Walt Isaacson), Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I even blogged about my difficulties with this book), the Bible, and The Three Musketeers.

With the exception of the Einstein book (I had no idea what Isaacson was talking about on many of the pages), it’s hard to say if the reason I didn’t finish these books is because I found them too difficult to read, or if I had lost interest, or some combination of the two.

I’m looking forward to reading these books, because there’s usually a nice sense of accomplishment when you complete a difficult task.

It’s the same feeling that readers of my blog must experience…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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