Sunday, January 07, 2024

Ten notorious literary slogs that are worth the effort

Emily Temple is the author of The Lightness and the Managing Editor at Literary Hub. She earned her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was the recipient of a Henfield Prize.

[My Book, The Movie: The Lightness; The Page 69 Test: The Lightness]

At Flavorwire in 2012 she tagged ten "notorious literary slogs — long, difficult, and/or complicated enough to scare even the strongest reader — that are definitely worth the effort." One title on the list:
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

Melville’s classic is many people’s literary white whale – but come on, you have to read the book that spawned the metaphor you use to describe it. Sure, it’s long, and there are large passages packed with mind-numbing information about the nitty-gritty of whaling techniques, but it’s also quite funny, something we no one told us before we took the plunge. It’s an adventure story, it’s a horror story, it’s a strange romance — and it’s time.
Read about another entry on the list.

Moby-Dick appears among Aidan Cottrell-Boyce's top ten novels & stories about prophets, James Stavridis's five best books to know the sea, Robert McCrum's top ten Shakespearean books, Bridget Collins's top ten Quakers in fiction, John Boyne's six best books, Kate Christensen's best food scenes in fiction, Emily Temple's ten literary classics we're supposed to like...but don't, Sara Flannery Murphy ten top stories of obsession, Harold Bloom's six favorite books that helped shape "the American Sublime,"  Charlotte Seager's five well-known literary monomaniacs who take things too far, Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England, Martin Seay's ten best long books, Ian McGuire's ten best adventure novels, Jeff Somers's five top books that will expand your vocabulary and entertain, Four books that changed Mary Norris, Tim Dee's ten best nature books, the Telegraph's fifteen best North American novels of all time, Nicole Hill's top ten best names in literature to give your dog, Horatio Clare's five favorite maritime novels, the Telegraph's ten great meals in literature, Brenda Wineapple's six favorite books, Scott Greenstone's top seven allegorical novels, Paul Wilson's top ten books about disability, Lynn Shepherd's ten top fictional drownings, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, Penn Jillette's six favorite books, Peter F. Stevens's top ten nautical books, Katharine Quarmby's top ten disability stories, Jonathan Evison's six favorite books, Bella Bathurst's top 10 books on the sea, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best nightmares in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, Susan Cheever's five best books about obsession, Christopher Buckley's best books, Jane Yolen's five most important books, Chris Dodd's best books, Augusten Burroughs' five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, David Wroblewski's five most important books, Russell Banks' five most important books, and Philip Hoare's top ten books about whales.

--Marshal Zeringue