I had to read "Old Man and the Sea" in high school. Let me sum up the whole book for you:
*MAJOR SPOILERS INC*
** Old Man fishes a lot
** Old Man goes fishing far out to sea in a boat
** Old Man catches a shark and it drags him through the water for about half the book
** Old Man kills shark and has to fight other sea creatures to keep his shark "Kill" for roughly the second half of the book
I zoned out so many times reading that book I think I re-read every page at least twice. I have never struggled to get through a book like that in my life.
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, like a couple of other people already stated.
Very hard to read by also very rewarding when you finally finish the book.
First time I read it I semi-skipped the hard passages, thinking "This probably means this or that" and it worked out ok.
Second time I tried to look up every foreign word I didn't understand fully, but it was too time consuming, and just understanding the single words didn't help that much in the sometimes very convoluted sentance construction he uses, and now two years later, I'm still stuck around hundred pages in
- Signature courtesy of the very talented Aveline -
House of Leaves... I have started it at least four times.
oh and i cant stand Faile either.
3rd grade science textbook
nah, just wanted to introduce a little randomness to this before revealing my personal choice of worst book ever: Star Wars - Splinter of the Mind's Eye. NOW granted, it was written in between the original movie and Empire, so nobody knew all the character relations yet (aside from maybe George, yet he still had them kissing in the movie...) but, it's basically 250ish pages of Luke having wet dreams about Leia, then he kicks the snot out of Vader to the point that Darth Vader, the most powerful evil character in the known universe (at the time) goes whimpering off into the night...
22 miles of hard road
33 years of tough luck
44 skulls buried in the ground
Crawling down through the muck
If a video game developer removed tumors from players, they'd whine about nerfing their loss in weight and access to radiation powers. -Cracked.com
WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
I remember the professor docking me a point for using a French pronunciation of 'engendred' because the vowel shift hadn't occurred yet, which in itself was bogus as he gave us the recording from which we were to practice but didn't tell us he wasn't that satisfied with it until after we gave our recitations.
The Glass Bead Game ( also released as Magister Ludi) from Hermann Hesse.
I tried reading it 4 times, and never got through it. I always noticed that I was a certain amount of pages into the book, and couldn't figure out what I read already.
I really wanna try it to finish it one day.
Hesse won the Literature Nobel Price for the book in 1946.
The Glass Bead Game takes place at an unspecified date, centuries into the future. Hesse suggested that he imagined the book's narrator writing around the start of the 25th century. The setting is a fictional province of central Europe called Castalia, reserved by political decision for the life of the mind; technology and economic life are kept to a strict minimum. Castalia is home to an austere order of intellectuals with a twofold mission: to run boarding schools for boys, and to nurture and play the Glass Bead Game, whose exact nature remains elusive and whose devotees occupy a special school within Castalia known as Waldzell. The rules of the game are only alluded to, and are so sophisticated that they are not easy to imagine. Playing the game well requires years of hard study of music, mathematics, and cultural history. Essentially the game is an abstract synthesis of all arts and sciences. It proceeds by players making deep connections between seemingly unrelated topics.
Yeah, I never managed to finish the Glass Bead Game (or even get very far into it, I don't think) despite loving Steppenwolf and Siddhartha and Narcissus and Goldmund in college.
Thomas Pynchon: I really wanted to read Gravity's Rainbow, and maybe someday I'll try again, but it didn't work out for me back then.
---------- Post added 2012-12-26 at 04:27 PM ----------
War and Peace. Another one I've started several times but just can't get into. It's gotten to the point where I don't even know why I want to read it. Maybe so people think I am smart or something. Definitely not good motivation to read something.
Gardens of the Moon by Erickson. I've heard so many good things about this series, but damn the first book is a hurtle. Tried it about 3 times. Get about 4 chapters in and literally throw it down with an exasperated "fuck this."
Loathe anything by Dickens.
Lots of people mentioning Tolkien and seeming worried about flaming. the truth is Tolkien was NOT a good author. One doesn't read Tolkien for the action of the prose, so much as to experience to rich world he created.
Get a grip man! It's CHEESE!
Orientalism by Edward Said.
Homeboy likes to just randomly drop large quotes in foreign languages into his book with the expectation that everyone is fluent in them. He also references a lot of other works, assuming that the reader has read them too, without enough information to glean what he's trying to say from his writing if you haven't.
I am an avid reader and normally revel in what most people consider tedious nonfiction, but this is the only book I've ever encountered in my life where I felt like the whole thing was over my head and I was just too stupid to handle it.
I'd have to go with the Silmarillion by Tolkein. I love the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but the Silmarillion reads like a fantasy history textbook, not a novel.