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10 Frequently Assigned Books Every Student Has Trouble Reading

School is beginning again, which means book reports, essays, and thousands of pages (and dollars) of required reading. It’s always a relief when reading lists have books that are no more than 200 pages, or have limited amounts of pages to read per class session.


In an ideal world most classes would emulate that. This is not, however, an ideal world. You are expected to finish a book in as little as a day, and you are asked to write a heinous amounthar on subjects that are of no interest to you.


This is a tale as old as time. Frequently, these stories of having a hard time reading are about the same novels. Here is a list of difficult books that your university might make you read.


1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky


The Brothers Karamazov

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This book is frequently called one of the best books ever, but that doesn’t make it an easy read. The book is thicc. It’s 796 pages of philosophical arguments on God, free will, and morality.



“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”


2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville


Moby Dick

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A whale of a book, Moby Dick is 822 pages long. Originally considered a failure when published, it has become a classic. It also has one of literature’s best-known opening lines: “Call me Ishmael.”




What I’ve dared, I’ve willed; and what I’ve willed, I’ll do! They think me mad – Starbuck does; but I’m demoniac, I am madness maddened! That wild madness that’s only calm to comprehend itself! The prophecy was that I should be dismembered; and – Aye! I lost this leg. I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer.


3. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner


The Sounds and the Fury

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Told out of order and through several different voices, this book is a tricky one to get through. It requires great concentration. According to How Long To Read, it will take you four and a half hours, but considering it’s super dense maybe multiply that by four.




“Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.”


4. Heart of Darkness by Jospeh Conrad


Heart of Darkness

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This book is skinny. What makes it difficult is the actual writing itself. Originally published in three parts by Blackwood’s Magazine, Heart of Darkness is only 80 pages long…emphasis on LONG.




The sun set; the dusk fell on the stream, and lights began to appear along the shore. The Chapman lighthouse, a three-legged thing erect on a mudflat, shone strongly. Lights of ships moved in the fairway—a great stir of lights going up and going down. And farther west on the upper reaches the place of the monstrous town was still marked ominously on the sky, a brooding gloom in sunshine, a lurid glare under the stars.


5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy


War and Peace

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This is actually four books combined into one at a combined 1,225 pages. According to one writer at the Guardian, it took an hour to get to page 12.




“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”


6. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer


Canterbury Tales

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Featuring many stories from many narrators, this book is campfire stories on steroids. Complete with fart jokes and steamy love details, these Middle English tales take a while to get through.




“If gold rusts, what then can iron do?”


7. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace


Infinite Jest

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A North American dystopia that centers around tennis may not be what you think when you think required reading. This novel is 1,079 pages, and can be so tedious that there is a guide on how to finish it over the summer.




“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”


8. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri


Divine Comedy

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This narrative poem, like most classics, is looking to save your mortal soul. It is split into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. In total, it’s 14,233 lines, so readers will need lots of patience.




“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”


9. Ulysses by James Joyce



Image courtesy of Amazon


At 265,000 words over eighteen episodes, this book doesn’t stream like Netflix. It’s a total of 732 pages, and is two volumes combined.




“These heavy sands are language tide and wind have silted here.”


10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy


Anna Karenina

Image courtesy of The Book Wheel


The Russians have a way of taking the idea of a novel, and turning it into a huge text. Anna Karenina is 864 pages total. This novel is split into eight parts, and takes 13 hours and 49 minutes to read according to How Long to Read.




“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”