This week on #5OnMyTBR, we’re talking about challenging reads. I’ve chosen five books that are challenging to me for lots of different reasons. One is challenging because of the hype and sheer reverence with which it is discussed, others have some very challenging subject matter, whilst others are more challenging due to the writing style. I think the pandemic really impacted my ability to read challenging books, so much of what I wanted to read was joyful, escapist fantasy that could help distract me from the world. But hopefully in 2021 I’ll be able to bring myself to read some more challenging reads such as these again!
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life is on my list of must read books in 2021. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for years and it is far past time that I actually read it. But it sits on such a high pedestal in the reading community that it has been so intimidating to actually pick it up! The blurb itself even mentions its challenging nature – “Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season.” It is known for being a book that rips people apart inside, so I’m preparing to be challenged and destroyed, in equal measures.
The Prophets by Robert Johnson Jr
The Prophets is one of my most anticipated books of 2021, and as it was a January release, it means I get to read it very soon! The subject matter looks to be extremely challenging – it is set on a slave plantation and follows two slaves whose love for each other is turned into a sin when one of the other slaves starts preaching their master’s religion.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth
Plain Bad Heroines sounds like it could be amazing – sapphic horror set at a New England boarding school where lots of mysterious deaths took place, all things I love!! But I’ve heard it’s also quite dense and slow, so might be a bit of challenge to get through, we’ll see!
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Shuggie Bain is another book with some difficult, depressing and challenging subject matter. It’s the winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, and as it’s written by a queer Scot, I obviously have to read it in support. It’s set in 1980s Glasgow and follows a young boy being brought up in run-down public housing as his mother succumbs to addiction.
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
And last but not least is the incredible Arkady Martine and the sequel to the most unique scifi I’ve ever read, A Memory Called Empire. I loved that book but it was definitely a challenging read. Half the book reads like a love letter to poetry, the language of the colonising power is poetry, so it is quite an intricate and challenging book to get through. And I’m sure A Desolation Called Peace is going to be just as challenging, but just as brilliant as well!
And those are some of the challenging books on my TBR right now! As I said at the start, they are all challenging for different reasons, from the writing style in Arkady Martine’s work, to the subject matter. What makes a book challenging for you? Do you have any challenging books on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!