Top 5 Wednesdays: Book Intimidation

The more years of reading challenges I do, the more clearly I’ve been able to define the kinds of books that tend to intimidate me. I’ve definitely noticed some patterns in the kinds of books that I tend to be hesitant to pick up, although sometimes it’s really for no reason! Last year, I was a bit intimidated to pick up some of my most anticipated YA fantasy series/duologies since I had somehow assumed they would be dense, and each time, I was surprised to realize that they weren’t at all. I was so nervous to try These Violent Delights and A Song of Wraiths and Ruins, and both ended up being favourites of the year! In general, I tend to find that I’m intimidated by a few main factors: huge page count, slow/dense writing, and older books. Page count is not always a barrier, but I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more likely to pick up a longer book if I read it closer to the beginning of the year, otherwise I tend to talk myself out of reading it for a while. In terms of books that are slower or more dense, I often end up enjoying them when I actually do read them, but usually find myself reluctant to pick books up if I know in advance that they might be slow. Part of that is just a matter of logistics because I know they might not hold my attention, so I try to wait until I’m more in the mood, but it often backfires and ends up intimidating me out of reading them at all. Lastly, I tend to be more intimidated by older books since I tend to assume that I’ll have a harder time getting into them. This is partially referring to classics, but even applies to books that have been published within my lifespan. I’ve seen a noticeable change in the general style of books published in the early 2000s compared to now, for example, and I find myself gravitating toward older books less often. For this week’s prompt, I decided to look at the books on my challenge lists for this year and pick a few that I feel most intimidated to read, even though I really do want to try them!

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness – I think the one factor that I forgot above was how long I’ve been meaning to read it, since I tend to find books more intimidating the longer I wait to pick them up! This series is intimidating because it combines a few factors: the books are on the longer side, they are a little older (published 2008 – 2010), and I’ve been meaning to trey them on and off for years! I kept delaying reading them because there were always other books I wanted to try more, but when I saw all three available for $1 each at my library’s sale shelf, I took it as a sign that it was time. Generally I find that the longer I wait to read a book, the more I start to question if I’ll actually like it or if it will live up to expectations, and I think that’s definitely the case here.

2) Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield – By all logic, this book shouldn’t be intimidating at all because The Thirteenth Tale by this author is one of my all-time favourites! However, I’ve been putting this one off for years now because for some reason, my brain has decided I’ll have trouble getting into it before I’ve even tried. I think it’s partially to do with the fact that this book is magical realism and that’s a genre that I sometimes have trouble understanding, and I also suspect this book will be on the denser side, even though I already know I like the author’s writing. I keep putting this one on my challenge plans but then avoiding it, so I’ll have to make a point of making sure I get to it this year!

3) Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire – I almost feel bad including this one because I’m sure I’m going to love it when I read it, but I’m a little nervous to pick it up. The other factor that I guess I forgot from my list in the intro is the amount of time between books in a series. I read Middlegame right around the start of the COVID lockdowns in 2020, so it’s been a full three years. I loved that book but can’t necessarily say I remember much of the details, although I’m not entirely sure how closely connected this sequel really is. I’m really looking forward to reading this but also intimidated to get start.

4) The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith – For some reason, I always mix this one up with Troubled Blood, but this book made the list by sheer size alone. This book is a whopping 1400 pages! To be fair, I’ve heard that a good chunk of it is made up of Tweets and messages so those parts are probably pretty quick to read, but it’s still a massive book overall. I’m restarting this series from the beginning at some point this year since I’ve only read the first two books, and that was back in 2016 and 2018 respectively. I really enjoyed both at the time and have been meaning to catch up on the series, but in general they are getting progressively longer with each installment so it’s a little intimidating.

5) The Bone Witch trilogy by Rin Chupeco – I’m including this series on my list for very similar reasons to the Chaos Walking trilogy, but with an added level of self-imposed hype. I remember seeing the first book in the series years ago at the bookstore and absolutely loving the cover, but decided not to buy it at the time. By the time I finally decided I wanted to read the series, hardcover copies of the first book were no longer available anywhere and I’m pretty sure it was unavailable at my library (although it’s available now, so I’m not entirely sure). I kept delaying reading this series in favour of other fantasy books that I wanted to read more, to the point where now that I’m finally picking it up, I’m worried it won’t live up to my own hype. It’s not necessarily a series I’ve been actively thinking about all this time, but it’s interested me all over again every time I see the synopsis and I’m hoping I’ll end up liking it as much as I expect.


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