top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Found Difficult to Read

Each week, The Broke and the Bookish hosts Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly booking meme. This week, we’re talking about books that were difficult for us to get through.

And oh man, do I have a list. I have several lists, based around several reasons. I’m going to have a difficult time keeping this down to 10. As a life-long reader who has also spent 10+ years in college studying English, I’ve read a lot of books, and I have a very difficult time not finishing one that I’ve started. (Incidentally, I’m the same way about movies or TV shows that I’ve started watching. It’s a compulsion to see it through.) But I’ve definitely been subjected to some things that I didn’t fancy or that were so difficult on an emotional level that I didn’t want to keep reading.

So here, at least, are the 10 that I can think of first, which I take to mean they were some of the most difficult, and the varying reasons I found them difficult3:

1. New Moon, Stephanie Meyer.

I read this, and the other books in the series, pretty quickly. This was the one that I found the most tedious with the fewest moments of redeeming quality, mostly because there’s so much whinging and brooding in the first 3/4 of the book.

2. Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

It’s long and tedious, and it took me so long that the class I read it for was over before I finished the book, but I read it. There are beautiful moments of prose, and there’s all sorts of neat stuff to be found in the book, but it’s complex. It meanders for hundreds of pages at a time.

3. American Psycho, Brett Easton Ellis.

When I was assigned the book for a class called “Masculinity in Contemporary Literature,” I was pretty excited. I’d loved the film version for years already, and I knew it would inspire an interesting seminar meeting. But I was unprepared for the descent into Bateman’s character, and I found the last 75 pages so disturbing that I had to convince myself to keep reading.

4. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien.

I took a Tolkien class in college, and sections from this were required. I wanted to gobble up everything Tolkien wrote, though, so I started reading this. It took me a while, and it was really difficult, but I very much enjoyed the reading.

5. Nightwood, Djuna Barnes.

I read this one for comps. It’s very short but so very dense, too, a modernist novel with prose that is beautiful but enigmatic.

6. Deliverance, James Dickey.

I’ve read this twice, both times for a course, and it was difficult to read both times. Like the film version, the novel is a masterpiece of timing and character. The book, though, manages to be somehow more sinister. A Southern Gothic masterpiece.

7. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn.

I really didn’t like this book. Every character was despicable, and I just couldn’t make myself care about what was happening.

8. Gender Trouble, Judith Butler.

While the ideas are fascinating and well-reasoned, Butler’s syntax and academic prose are really hard to navigate, especially as they’re used to explain such complex ideas.

9. Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault.

Postmodernist theories about power, punishment, and historical narratives. I was 19 when I first read it and had a very difficult go of it.

10. Dune, Frank Herbert.

I’d heard a lot of positive things about the book, and I wanted to give it a go. I’d enjoyed other sci-fi and fantasy works, but Herbert’s work was just too dry, too awkwardly paced.

***

Look for Wordless Wednesday and Thirteen Thursday this week! I missed last week’s coffee post due to being out of town, but we’ll be back this week. :)

caretaker

Doctor Who Review: Series 8, Episode 6, “The Caretaker”

Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 6, “The Caretaker,” by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffatt is my favorite episode of the season so far despite the fact that the plot is a standard “alien of the week” story and the production doesn’t rate as highly as “Robot of Sherwood” and “The Heist.” The action is set at Coal Hill Secondary School, where Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) and Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) work, so there’s nothing exceptional about the lighting or the costumes. The episode villain is a remote-controlled trolley with a robot body, so not much in the way of special effects, either. That isn’t necessarily bad, though. One of the things I love most about this show is that the producers don’t mind going cheap-and-cheesy with the special effects now and then. What makes “The Caretaker” special is that we finally have an episode devoted entirely to developing relationships between Clara, Danny, and The Doctor (Peter Capalidi). As an added bonus, Danny gets to save the planet.

blitzerThe plot is the most straightforward one we’ve seen so far. There’s an alien war machine called a Skovox Blitzer hidden somewhere in East London. It’s armed with enough explosive to destroy the Earth, and it’s in danger of waking up. The Doctor goes undercover as the caretaker at Coal Hill to find and neutralize the Blitzer. His plan is to locate the machine, lure it into the school after hours, and send it a billion years into the future through a temporary time vortex. The Doctor refuses to share his plan with Clara. Danny, suspecting something’s not right with the new caretaker, interferes with the Doctor’s plan and hi-jinks ensue. By the end of the episode, the world is safe again and the Doctor has finally learned that Danny is Clara’s boyfriend, but not before making a total ass of himself. “The Caretaker” also gives a lot of screen time to Coal Hill student Courtney Woods (Ellis George), and she even gets a trip in the TARDIS at the end.crtwoods

Will asked a very good question this weekend in his review of “Time Heist” for Sourcerer:

How serious was the Doctor when he said “I’m not your boyfriend?”

That’s a natural question to ask after watching episode 5, and I wonder now if it’s a question we were intended to ask, because “The Caretaker” answers it for us. He was completely serious when he said that, but he may be thinking of himself as her father now. That’s deliciously ironic, given the number of times Clara’s had to be his nanny this season. The Doctor is annoyingly paternal all through this latest episode. He jumps to the wrong conclusion about who her boyfriend is, and totally misses the fact that Orson Pink not only shares a last name with Danny, but looks just like him, only with cooler hair.

Danny Pink

Danny Pink

The Doctor’s prejudice against soldiers also plays a role here. He insists on calling Danny the PE teacher despite the fact that Clara and Danny repeatedly tell him Danny is the Maths teacher. At at one point near the end of the episode, Danny, who was apparently a sergeant, pegs the Doctor as an officer. And Danny has a good point. Now, think back to that conversation Clara overheard when she was hiding under the Doctor’s bed in “Listen.” The one in which the adults were arguing about the young Doctor, whose name we didn’t get, not wanting to join the military. I think there’s a bit of self-hatred in the Doctor’s bias against soldiers. All this also seems to suggest that Time Lords, whatever else they are, are a Gallifreyan military organization. I’m not up on the lore enough to know whether or not this is an established fact, but it’s the conclusion I’m drawing from this season.

The one problem I have with this episode is the final conversation at the end, in which Danny says the Doctor’s mad because he’s afraid Danny won’t be good enough for Clara. That whole exchange is one long cliche, and it’s overkill. The point’s been made already, and I wish this conversation had been more interesting. I hope the “Doctor-as-father” is just another phase of the Doctor’s developing relationship with Clara. I can handle it for an episode or two, but I don’t want these characters to settle into that way of interacting for the rest of the season.

missyMissy also makes an appearance at the end, and for the first time we see that she has a minion to help her check people into the afterlife. A policeman who is killed by the Skovox Blitzer early in the episode ends up in Missy’s domain and doesn’t even understand he’s dead. Missy’s world as depicted in this episode is creepy. It’s not the lush paradise from “Deep Breath” nor the sitting room from “Into the Dalek.” It’s a white, sterile waiting room that suggests a medical facility or dystopian prison. Since we saw the charred and dismembered remains of the policeman when he was killed, I’m thinking that whatever is going on, it’s not explained by Missy materializing a time machine around these characters and yanking them away from death at the last minute. My new pet theory is that she’s either cloning the humans or building cybernetic replicas of them, then telling them they’ve died and gone to heaven.

For another take on “The Caretaker,” pop over to Things Matter and check out Hannah’s review. If you’re in the mood to really binge on some Doctor Who blogging, take a look at Hannah’s Time Heist review, which includes links to several other blogs that are following the season.

See you next week ;-)

Muted Monday: “All ABOARD!”

Photo by Gene'O

Photo by Gene’O

Silent Sunday: Halftime Show (Surprise Post!)

Photo by Gene'O

Photo by Gene’O