With my completion of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, I have accomplished  reading my 700th book,  an amazing achievement considering that I never once had the gumption to read novels, especially lengthy ones. I only started taking reading seriously when I was in my senior year in high school. Thirteen years thence, I have finished my 700th novel, an incredible accomplishment, at least by my own standards.

In 700 books, there were books that have daunted me. The intimidation emanated from a variety of reasons, such as its length or its cultural and literary significance. To mark my newest achievement, I have rounded up 10 books that have intimidated me before I read them. Some lived up to the intimidation whilst some proved that my intimidation and fear was all for naught. Without any ado, here are my 10 most intimidating reads.

51Zr6Pd32ML._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

When I picked up Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, I barely had an iota on who Garcia Marquez is and what sort of fiction he does. The only thing I knew then was that the book was included in the row of award-winning works. Since it is my first Garcia Marquez, I was excited. However, as I learn more about Garcia Marquez, the more I got intimidated. He, after all, won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The intimidation was thoroughly justified. One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of the most talked about literary works and also one of the most difficult reads. It was one of my very first magical realism works. It didn’t take me 50 pages to realize that it is going to be one of those books that I must truly labor hard enough in order for me to understand it. As intimidating as the book was, it was also fascinating.

Read more about my review of this classic by clicking here.


2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace is the first of two Leo Tolstoy works in this list. The truth is, Russian literature is one of the most intimidating facets of literature, maybe because of the acquired perception of Russia in general. However, it is also one part of fiction that I am truly interested in and fascinated by.

Apart from being a classical Russian work, the other thing that intimidated me in this book is its length – it is more than a thousand pages! Now the length is not an issue as I have read a couple of books that is at least a thousand pages long. My experience with Anna Karenina didn’t help me quell my intimidation. But all of these fears and intimidation were unfounded. The more I read into the book, the more enamored I got. Yes, it is about a very heavy and complicated subject but it was a great and insightful read nonetheless.

Read more about my review of this classic by clicking here.


3. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

The Booker of all Bookers. Now, who wouldn’t be intimidated by that title? Everyone would, even the most seasoned of readers. It is also in this quandary that I found myself when I decided to have this majestic masterpiece as my 600th read. Thankfully, I had one thing going in my favor when I read this book, I have already read some of Rushdie’s works so I already had an idea on what to expect. But even that didn’t prepare me for how whimsical Midnight’s Children is.

Saleem Sinai is a very inconsistent reader and the plot pushes and pulls, adding more to my intimidation of the book. But contrary to my expectation, I begun to appreciate the story the more I dig into it. Saleem’s unexpected journey pulled me towards the heart of the book. Rushdie’s mastery of the language is truly exhilarating and it was showcased in this magnificent work. Through Midnight’s Children, I have become an ardent fan of Rushdie’s works.

Read more about my review of this classic by clicking here.

318822d0081835f430046d5b6f975ef2.jpg4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky’s magnum opuses, The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment are amongst my most intimidating reads. There is just something silently daunting about Russian literature that pushes me back but also draws me in.

My first Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov was a tediosu reading task but it is this popular work by Dostoyevsky that is the runaway winner in a contest of the more intimidating Dostoyevsky work. There are a lot of positive things I have heard of the book that I looked forward to it but really, I was just as intimidated when I read The Brothers Karamazov. Although the story was complicated, my intimidation was unfounded in the end. Crime and Punishment is one of my favorite reads.

Read more about my review of this classic by clicking here.

21589584533.jpg5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

No surprise here, I guess, the second Tolstoy in this list. Its inclusion in many must-read lists made me look forward to reading it, at first. However, when I was able to purchase a copy of the book, I was daunted. Here is a work of a Russian master storyteller, a classic work that has been studied throughout the years by many literary pundits.

Unlike War and Peace, Anna Karenina proved my fears were right. I had a very difficult time understanding the nuances and subtleties of the work although I did understand what the story is about. Reading it was a challenge and no matter how slow I tried to read it to enable me to understand the story, it was all for naught. This is one of the books that I want to reread because I want to truly unravel the story. Maybe someday.


6. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes’ classic masterpiece is one of the books that really piqued my interest. Its inclusion in many must-read lists makes it simply irresistible. When I was finally able to purchase a copy of the book, I was giddy with anticipation because finally, I will read one of the biggest works of the world of fiction. Excited as I was, I was also intimidated. It is lengthy and I read it at a time when I just started reading classical works.

My intimidation and fears proved to be founded, again. Just like Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, I had a difficult time unraveling the narrative. Don Quixote is very whimsical but I barely find the whimsy very humorous. He is also very deluded. But perhaps it is this whimsy and delusion that makes him such a very appealing character to other readers? Well, I don’t know. The reading experience was burdensome.

103575757. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

I was so innocent then. I simply picked up 1Q84 from the book stands even though I barely had any iota on what the book is about. However, I keep hearing about Murakami a lot from my friends that I felt that I must give his works a try.  1Q84 was the one that was available. It is this lengthy work that baptized me to the world of Murakami and magical realism.

It is its length and it being my first Murakami work that daunted me about this book. It did not help that it was my first magical realism work. It is no surprise that I had a very difficult time finding my footing it this massive work. Through its surrealistic dimensions, I have realized that it was the worst start to a literary relationship with Murakami’s works. Nevertheless (and thankfully), I gave him a second chance; he is now one of my go-to authors.


8. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

As my 700th read, this fabled epic brought out the inner literati in me; it was a book that I looked forward to. I set it apart from the rest by perfectly scheduling it to be my 700th book, for a variety of reasons. It is a colossal masterpiece that is widely talked about and discussed in the many corners of the literary world. By winning the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, it fortified its foothold as one of the masterpieces of literature.

I barely had any iota when I read the book. I have neither watched the movie nor read any reviews of the book but I know one thing, it is going to be daunting read. Many a reader have already proclaimed it one of their most difficult reads. It is because of this that I intentionally slowed down my reading pace in order to drink in everything that it has to offer. But my prior notions were all for naught as the story flowed in a way that I barely expected. It is, so far, one of my best reads.


9. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Unlike most of the books in this list, it wasn’t my naivete that made me purchase this book. When I bought it, I already had an inkling that it is about to be one of my most difficult reads. It is natural then that I was rather intimidated. Moreover, I have read somewhere that is is one of the books that many a reader shelved reading just a couple of its pages. Some even took years to finish it.

Intimidated as I was when I started reading the book, I was actually excited. I was very curious as to why many readers opted not to finish this. Obviously it is lengthy. At the onset, it was already palpable to me why. It is very complex. Its many layers drive readers into overdrive that can be overwhelming. It takes a bagful of patience and a whole lot of imagination to complete this book. Thankfully, I stayed with it even though at times I felt like giving up on it.

Read more about my review of this book by clicking here.


10. Ulysses by James Joyce

And so we arrive to the last book in this list. It is also, by far, the most intimidating of all the books in this list. I mean, who hasn’t heard of Ulysses. Its reputation does precede it. But it is also this reputation that brought me some trepidation. Originally, it was part of my 2017 Top 20 Reading List because it is a book that I was looking forward to.

However, it proved too challenging for me. Midway through the book, I shelved it. I was not getting anywhere with the book. There was a lot of things happening and try as I might, I just couldn’t make any progress with the story. To get an idea about the book, I researched more on it but it didn’t help. It is the only book that I did not finish in 13 years of reading. However, I am reserving it for the future, when I am already equipped with tools necessary to unravel it.

Thus ends my list. Although there are a lot of books that have truly intimidated me but these are the ones that take the top spots. How about you fellow reader, what books have intimidated you? Share it in the comment box.

Happy reading!