Are These the 10 Most Difficult Books?


We’ve all been beaten by a book before, whether due to its crazy length, disturbing subject matter, or intimidating reputation. Over at Publishers Weekly, Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg, co-curators of The Millions’ long-running “Difficult Books” series, recently compiled an interesting list of what they deem to be “the most difficult of the most difficult.” While they missed two of our personal “literary Mount Everests” — Gravity’s Rainbow and Infinite Jest — there are definitely a few books on here that we’ve picked up only to put down in defeat. Click through to see which titles made their top 10, check out the reasoning behind their picks here, and then head to the comments to share tales of the books that nearly broke you!

Here they are, in no particular order:

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes A Tale of A Tub by Jonathan Swift The Phenomenology of the Spirit by G.F. Hegel To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf Clarissa, Or the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson Finnegans Wake by James Joyce Being & Time by Martin Heidegger The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser Women & Men by Joseph McElroy The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein