Literary Blog Hop: November 11-14

This week’s Literary Blog Hop question comes from Deb Nance of Readerbuzz who asks, “What’s the most difficult book you’ve ever read? What made it so difficult?”

Until this year I would have answered the Bible in the King James translation. But, because I’ve read it so many times in easier translations (such as the New International Version, Revised Standard Version, and New Living), I have a point of reference. Now I find the KJV wonderfully meaningful because I can ponder the beautiful phrases as I read them slowly and connect them to the passages I’ve read before.

No, the most difficult books I’ve read this year have to be those those written by Georges Perec. I’ve read one and a half: Life, A User’s Manual and A Void. What makes them difficult, besides that he’s a genius? I think he has a whole lot of background knowledge that I know nothing about. This combined with a mind which is adept at playing tricks, puzzles and games makes him the most challenging author I’ve read.

And, I enjoy those French guys! Flaubert, Zola, St. Exupery? Love them! Perec is just one of the French authors who is slightly over ma tête.

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18 thoughts on “Literary Blog Hop: November 11-14”

  1. The French I read a long time back. Perec I've heard of but never really encountered in the library or book shop (as far as I remember). The way you describe it, sounds challenging indeed. But it might also be fun.

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  2. Perec — I should have thought of his work when I answered this question! He totally floored me. Alain Robbe-Grillet is another tough author I've struggled through in the past.

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  3. Gotta think what my response would be to that great question (meaning there is lots of stuff above my fuzzy head). I admire you for reading Perec, who is on my "someday" list. Of course, I've never read Zola, either…Oh, the terrible gaps!

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  4. I've decided this upcoming year to try to read the Bible — although I've read certain portions, and know most of the stories that are within it, I've not ever sat down to read from cover to cover. I'm looking forward to trying, and am researching which version to start with.I do need to read Madame Bovary as well — that cover that recently came out is wonderful.

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  5. Great post. I've heard of Perec, but not read any of his works as yet. I've mainly heard about Life, and so am rather keen to read that one. I'd heard mainly positive things before, interesting to now that he has a reputation as well. I've dabbled with the French classics- having read a smattering of Flaubert, and recently read (and loved) The Three Musketeers.

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  6. I have avoided Perec (corny pun intended). The premise of his work is so intellectual–and there is nothing wrong with that, but I need something more than just that (intellect). I would be curious to see how much *story* there is in his books….

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  7. I have a shelf just for Alain de Botton – a small shelf, granted, but it's all his.Every one of his titles intrigues me – The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, The Architecture of Happiness, How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel.I've tried to read every one of those books, and though there are paragraphs that sparkle, hints that he could be a really, truly interesting writer, I can't do more than fifteen minutes. I've even tried starting at the end and working backwards, thinking the message might be encoded as it's said to be on certain audio recording that have to be played backward to get the real message.Alas! M. de Botton will have to languish on my shelves until I get smarter, or more determined.

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  8. I grew up reading the King James Bible. I love the NIV version but something about the King James just brings me back to my childhood and some passages are just so beautiful and poetic in the old version!

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  9. I agree with you! I've read Perec and enjoyed him in his way, but he is hard work. I'm also a fan of Flaubert and Zola. Have you tried Colette? She is lovely, complex and sly without being taxing to read.

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  10. I still haven't read any Perec and although I'm expecting him to be really difficult, there's something about all the reviews I've read of his books that makes me want to dive in.

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