#5OnMyTBR: Challenging Reads

Hello Mondays, welcome back to #5OnMyTBR, a meme created by the wonderful E @ The Local Bee Hunter’s Nook. This bookish meme gets us to dig even further into our TBRs by simply posting about five books on our TBR! You can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. You can find the full list of prompts (past and future) at the end of this post!

This week’s prompt is: Challenging Reads.

This prompt was surprisingly tough for me to choose for because books can be challenging for different reasons and it depends on how you’re choosing to define the word at the time. For simplicity’s sake I’m choosing five books that I think will be challenging for various reasons, but mostly because of the context of the story. The first three are for similar reasons because they’re about a topic that’s always difficult to read about, while the last two were chosen because they’re chunksters and I’m intimidated by their size 😂 On that note, let’s get to it!


I know why the caged bird sings

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read. 


know my name

She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

I’d seen this cover around but never thought to check the synopsis until, for some reason, yesterday I did. Yesterday was also the first time I read Chanel’s victim impact statement when she was still known as “Emily Doe” and holy shit, I know just how freaking hard this book is going to be to read…


my dark vanessa

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?


the way of kings

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.


THE GOLDFINCH

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

January

Would you consider any (or even all) of these books challenging? What are books that you think will be challenging for you?

12 thoughts on “#5OnMyTBR: Challenging Reads

  1. I agree with Goldfinch being one chunky book to read 🥺

    For me bulky books are the most challenging to read followed by specific genres like non-fictions and literary fictions.

    Also adding I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Know My Name to my read list!

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  2. I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings back in school. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten most of the finer details, but I remember thinking it was a beautiful and powerful narrative.

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  3. The Way of Kings is definitely a challenge when it comes to size but it’s WORTH IT! I really am so intrigued by My Dark Vanessa but everyone says that it’s a difficult read- plot wise. So it really scares me! lol

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  4. I like how you’ve defined challenging. I think that I would have to do it the same way… for me a challenging book is either a really tough to read topic or something very thick and complex with tiny text. You know the type where you have to read a sentence about 7 times before your brain finally absorbs it? lol ♥

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  5. Oh my gosh the Goldfinch has been sitting on my pile for a while because I keep telling myself it can wait until I’m ahead with reviews etc because of the size, definitely feel you on that one. The others sound like they could be really harrowing but powerful reads. Great choices!

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