Literary Blog Hop: Nov 11-14

Literary Blog Hop

The Literary Blog Hop is organised by The Blue Book Case. It’s a new weekly event for blogs that discuss primarily literary fiction and classics. Hop over the The Blue Book Case if you want to join in!

So, is my blog a literary blog? I don’t know! You see, I read everything that comes my way (within limits), but I don’t tend to read romance and fantasy. Chick-lit: yes, sometimes. YA: sometimes. Books about vampires and werewolves: not if it’s up to me, but sometimes they just happen.

What do I read: literary fiction (I can safely say that all my favorite authors fit that category), other contemporary fiction, classics, mysteries, dystopia.

This week’s discussion question is:

What is the most difficult literary work you’ve ever read?  What made it so difficult?

That’s a difficult question! I find classics a little hard sometimes, because they can be tedious: there are often long descriptions and I get impatient, wanting the main story to continue. A good example is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

I’m quite an impatient reader. I read a lot and I do it fast. Classics, and some other literary works often take a some extra time to digest the writing. I love good writing, but at the same time, I get impatient because I have to read each word carefully.

I noticed this not so long ago with The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. The book was beautiful (to look at), the writing was beautiful, and the story was interesting. But the writing was sometimes quite dense, and if I half-read a sentence or two, I would have missed some important information. That drove me mad! Still, I very much enjoyed the experience of reading the book.

As a last example, I am a bit of a fan of Jane Smiley’s work. Or at least, so I thought until I got my hands (or eyes, really) on Ten Days in the Hill. This deals with a group of friends that have gathered in Beverly Hills (if I remember well) and they just talk, and eat, and talk. Nothing they did or said interested me. In this case, the writing wasn’t particularly interesting and the story certainly wasn’t.

When do you find a book difficult to read?

Literary fiction I read this week:

  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles, a beautiful book about two friends at boarding school during the second world war (review to follow)
  • Vaslav by Arthur Japin, one of my favorite Dutch writers. This book (not yet? translated) is about one day in the life of Vaslav Nijinski, a ballet dancer from the early 1900s who was as famous in his days as the biggest pop stars now.

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

30 Responses to Literary Blog Hop: Nov 11-14

  1. I get impatient. I try to read too fast. I like a thoughtful book that is well written and easy reading.

    Here’s my post:
    http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2010/11/enchante-from-literary-blog-hop.html

    • leeswammes says:

      Well, exactly, debnance, that’s my problem, too. I like to read faster than some literary novels allow. And then I get irritated. But often it’s worth it and I try to slow down.

  2. I have read a lot of classics in my school and college years. And some still remain my favorites. However, there are a few I could never get into..

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

  3. I’ve had The Thousand Autumns on my shelf since summer, but keep moving it back on the TBR list. However, I loved The Moonstone (but not as much as The Woman in White). Have a great weekend!

  4. Impatience is something I suffer from too. I get all worked up about a book and then when I sit down to read it, somehow doesn’t live up to my expectations.

    ‘The Moonstone’ is one I’ve yet to read. It’s been on my shelf for years. I hate rambling descriptions.

    • leeswammes says:

      Hi Obsessions,

      Maybe you should just plan Moonstone in your reading schedule (if you have one) and sit down and try it. If you don’t like it, it’s off your list (as a DNF maybe) and if you do like it, you have then read a nice book.

      Although I am impatience, I did finish the book and enjoyed it. I was just a little irritated by how slow the story was sometimes.

  5. Ingrid says:

    Thanks for participating in our Hop! I haven’t heard of the Moonstone, but I have heard of that one by David Mitchell …

  6. Suzanne says:

    Books are difficult to read when I can’t get interested in the plot and/or the characters.
    I read Ulysses earlier this year and there was no plot to speak of (in my opinion) and I couldn’t find much about the characters to spark interest — that and Joyce uses a range of writing styles so I found it challenging to follow what was going on.

    I don’t mind long descriptions in the narrative as long as they are relevant to the story.

    • leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, I myself don’t even want to try to read Ulysses. I think the main attraction for people for this book is that they can say, Hey I’m clever, I read Ulysses. Well, I’m clever, I know that. I can skip Ulysses. :-))))

      • Suzanne says:

        … I went in intending/hoping to enjoy it, but sadly I did not. I only stuck with it because I was blogging about my progress.

        You are definitely clever to give it a pass!

  7. toni says:

    yeah there are a lot of long descriptions in classic books, but I kinda like them. thomas hardy comes to mind, for example XD

    I also liked your comment about being a fast reader, that’s so true, I am too! dense books are harder to read if you’re an impatient reader, but totally worth it in the end, I think.

  8. JoAnn says:

    I loved The Moonstone, even more than The Woman in White, but can see where you could get impatient with it. Have not tried David Mitchell. One of these days…

  9. I want to play! I need to check out the guidelines. You read more variety than I do, I’m impressed! I do enjoy women’s lit when it’s good (ie: After You) but love history fiction, memoirs and am trying to read classics.

    Have a great weekend!

    • leeswammes says:

      Mari, you have a good weekend too! I’m not sure how strict “they” are in the literary blog hop. Some people are really very literary readers, but I think (hope) it’s meant to be a group that reads the more serious books and not the YA romances and paranormal stuff etc. I find that with the “normal” Blog Hop, I often click on people’s link and end up on a blog that I’m not interested in. Here, I hope that will be less often the case.

  10. Jillian says:

    I’m an impatient reader, too. But ever since starting my ‘classics’ journey, I’ve fallen in love with stories. It’s worth the patience; it really is. 🙂

  11. Kinna says:

    Alas, I haven’t read any book by Wilkie Collins. I’m very patient with difficult books in part because if I find it hard going, then I may not return of the book. Will add Moonstone to my wishlist. Thanks.

  12. nancyo says:

    Hi Judith! I actually loved the Moonstone, but even better was his Woman in White. I think Count Fosco is my favorite bad guy of all times. I understand Thousand Autumns; I loved it, actually, but I gave it to a friend to read and she said the same exact thing you did.

    • leeswammes says:

      I think I also preferred The Woman in White, Nancy. Count Fosco is a great villain.

      Don’t get me wrong about Thousand Autumns, I loved the book too, but I just get a little frustrated with books like that because they read slowly, while on the other hand enjoying it too.

  13. Good choices! This was a fun question to answer. My pick was Finnegans Wake.

    Rose City Reader

  14. Alley says:

    I’m with you, I get impatient with long descriptions and tend to skim through those parts. It takes some practice to slow down and really pick up the meaning of more complex works.

  15. Dan Cafaro says:

    I too am an impatient reader – and often make snap judgments of a book within the first few pages. As a publisher, I consider this visceral response to a draft manuscript one of necessity, but as a reader, this instinct can sometimes limit my experiences. I guess I should wear the same reading glasses in both roles as I may be missing some great literary writings that sweep across my desk because I’m too consumed by wanting to promptly “understand” where the writer is going instead of letting the writing take me there…

    • leeswammes says:

      Some of my impatience is due to the large number of books I have waiting to be read, not unlike your office situation. But some is just part of me: I’ve always been speedy in doing (other) things such as walking, washing the dishes, writing letters (awful handwriting), etc., so I could get back to reading my book faster. 🙂 This has also affected how fast I read.

      I think it’s the fate of many budding authors to not be understood by the publishers. It just can’t be helped.

  16. I think my answer’s the same as yours. Dense books can sometimes be worth the slog but it’s still hard work! My brain needs a break sometimes too!

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