Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Blog Conversation about Reading Challenging Books . . .

Our previous discussion—about social media and search—ended on September 10th due to a lack of comments; but, it did have a five post run. Reading Challenges


In this post I’ll try to stir up interest in certain kinds of reading that can be considered “Challenging“—I probably won’t mention them all; but, that’s what comments are for :-)

First, any “categories” of Challenge I may bring up can be negative to some and positive to others.

Obviously, some reading could be challenging due to the content of the book—if fiction, story elements—if non-fiction, topics presented.

Content challenges usually aren’t a surprise—something will pop up during one’s considerations to indicate the challenge(s)—“Oh, my, that cover looks way too sexual for me…“.

Some of you might like an article about “trigger warnings“—alerting the reader that a book contains “potentially distressing material”.

Another type of Challenge might be the reading “level”…

This challenge is much discussed in the arena of “children’s” books.

It’s usually not a challenge for an adult to read a “children’s” book, unless they do it in an environment containing judgemental humans…

And, when you look at the opinions about the “proper” ages to read various “children’s” books, some of those same judgemental humans attempt to exert their influence…

It seems certain people are trying to “protect” children from reading “above” their “level”—“Oh, my, that might make them stop reading forever!“…

There are also folks who cringe when they discover a child is reading “below” their “level”—“Oh, my, that might make them read children’s books when they’re adults!“…

Another reading challenge to consider is the “writing-style” of the author.

I’m using “writing-style” to embrace many individual reading challenges—word choices, grammatical constructions, dialect, syntax decisions, etc..

One particular example of “writing-style” challenge I’m most familiar with is that of my favorite fiction author, C. J. Cherryh.

Here’s one description of the challenge of Cherryh’s writing from Tim Eagen:

“Her style mirrors human thought processes, without the artificial fluidity of the ‘stream of consciousness’ constructions. Short, choppy sentences. Reflective clauses. Or prepositional phrases, with emotional freighting. Like that. For this reason, Cherryh’s work can sometimes be difficult; however, when you’ve taken the trouble to follow the thoughts and the feelings, the effect is quite profound.”

I might add that Cherryh can also challenge with her word choices and syntax decisions—she writes in a wide variety of “story environments”—ancient, fantasy, scientific, modern (sometimes combining two of those…)—each demanding various potentially challenging “reading environments”.

However, even Cherryh’s most ardent fans will comment that she remains a challenge; but, one always worth working through…

A final type of challenge I’ll mention is reading in another language…

What are some of Your reading challenges…?

What are some challenges you enjoy dealing with…?

What are some challenges that drive you crazy…?

How about reading challenges your friends or acquaintances reveal…?

Perhaps you’ll share challenges you used to have but have overcome…?

Reminderit only takes one comment to keep this discussion going………
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

16 responses to “Blog Conversation about Reading Challenging Books . . .

  1. juliecroundblog September 12, 2018 at 10:03 am

    I find books where I don’t like the main character challenging and books with loads of blood and gore but the most impossible books were by Proust. Good job I didn’t study literature at University. His were bound to be set books! I did read a translation of some works by Dostoevsky a long time ago. I think my tastes have changed.I can’t cope with fantasy books any longer although I used to enjoy Science Fiction. I can still admire sophisticated language but hate a lot of swearing. When I read a book I want to become involved. Is that too much to ask?
    PS I certainly couldn’t read anything in another language!


  2. CarolinaC September 12, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    There are definitely some types of content that I find to be too much of a challenge – too much violence, strong language, or explicit sexuality, for instance.

    I’ve also tried reading Cherryh and never gotten very far, alas.

    Maybe I’m just not destined to read challenging writing?


  3. martinaseveckepohlen September 13, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Challenging topics for me are violence and explicit sexuality when I don’t see what the author wants to achieve with them. When I read The Woman in White for the first time, I simply couldn’t understand why the protagonist kept up his love for the – in my eyes – wrong woman.
    And I made at least two attempts to read a book by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. I found the German translation so French that I simply couldn’t understand anything.


  4. Jessica Donegan September 14, 2018 at 8:35 am

    I find works that play too strongly to cliches and tropes challenging to read. I think a lot of people gobble them up, but if I’ve seen it done before and the writer isn’t bringing something new to the table, I’m left staring at their work wondering why I’m bothering.

    I read “Cards of Chaos” by A. D. Jansen recently and it was a challenging read because the prose we very tight and technical, it covered a lot of philosophy, and because it descended into a stream of consciousness narrative for a bit. I loved the book and the very things that make it challenging are some of it’s best features.

    It’s interesting to me that challenges can be both good and bad for readers. Sometimes it drives us forward and other times it has us walking away in disgust.


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