ever read a book that made you feel uncomfortable?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recently, I purchased a copy of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I have been wanting to read this book for a while, as I know it's a bit of a classic read. Everyone keeps telling me that it's good, that it's a must-read, and an experience for any reader. So I am currently reading it. And man, how uncomfortable I am with this book. There's something about the themes and subject matter that do not make this an easy read. I keep putting it down and picking it up again, trying to give it a chance. I am not sure though if I want to even keep going. 

Lolita is basically about a man who is quite obsessed with a nymphet. Enough said?

So my question to you is, have you read this book and should I continue with it despite the uncomfortable and uneasy feeling I have when I pick it up? Or should I just stop and not even bother? Also, have you read any books that made you feel this way? If so, what are those books? Let me know! 


  1. I think with these kinds of books, if they really make you feel uncomfortable, there is no need to force through. It may be though that they require a certain adjustment in mindset before you approach them. For example, I read American Psycho and it's one of my favourites not because I like serial killers who carry out unimaginably horrible acts on other humans; it's one of my favourites despite that. The way I personally approach these kind of books is something like that: yes, it's absolutely awful and unimaginable, but this author got these ideas from somewhere and these kinds of things are part of life, and maybe there is something to learn from those books. I tend to observe and try to put my moral preferences aside, whilst reading at least. That being said, everyone's level of tolerance to works with high shock value is different, and this is why books like Lolita generate so many different opinions.

  2. I have had books that make me uncomfortable to carry around because their covers are different such as Jodi Picoult- Harvesting the Heart. The book is great, but the cover is a mother breastfeeding so I didn't carry that one around. The other one I didn't carry around was Emily Giffin- Baby Proof. Everybody's top question in that one was if it was a pregnancy advice book since baby was in the title.

  3. I tried reading Lolita a few years back and I stopped not because I was uncomfortable but because I couldn't get into the writing style. I agree with Riv - there's no need to force through if it really makes you uncomfortable. I think pushing boundaries of comfortability can be a good thing, but if I'm not enjoying a book or I don't think I'll gaining anything by reading it, I would put it down. In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami is one such book for me (extreme violence that's meant to be humorous - I didn't like it).

  4. I think in a lot of ways it's the books that make us uncomfortable, the books that make us question how and why things are the way they are, the lines between right and wrong, the way other people's lives and mindsets are different to ours, that can end up being the most powerful of our reading lives. They're often the ones I remember, because they shake up my worldview and make me FEEL something so profound as I'm reading, whether for good or bad. Lolita's on my TBR for this summer, so I guess we'll see how I get on...

  5. The one Nabokov book I read made me feel uncomfortable, too. It wasn't Lolita; I think it was called The Enchanter. I finished it, but I ended up skimming a lot of it. Am I glad I finished it? Not really. It was just okay. In my opinion, life is too short to spend time on books you're not enjoying. You know?

  6. First of all i apologize for my english, I was googling random stuff and your blog came up and this your last post made me smile.
    I've read Lolita a few months ago, I commute and i usually read on the train and subway and i remeber feeling so uncomfortable looking around as if i was committing a perverted crime reading that book.
    So i can relate to your feelings but i didn't give up and i read the whole book and i think it's one of the book i liked the most.
    Don't get me wrong - the theme treated is very delicate, but the book is not only about the theme.
    First of all he has a wonderful style, he uses words in such a charming and skilful way that i found myself schoked about the fact that english is not even his native language. Take the fist page as example, when he explains the movements of the tongue to pronounce the word Lolita - i was completely captured, i remember repeating Lolita over and over to check the truthfulness of that description!
    There are parts that i found quite boring (later in the book, i don't want to do any spoiler) but i partly justify those parts keeping in mind the time period in which the book was written and the fact that they weren't at that time bombared by social medias and visual images as we are today and a book could substitute for it and also with the fact that Nabokov himself was quite fascinated by the American culture and wanted it in the book (you'll understand what i mean if you keep reading :))
    If you "forget" about the fact that Lolita is a child, the words Humber uses to describe her are really powerfu. The descriptions, that ever-present feeling of not understaning whether what is happening is reality or a dream, the contradicting character of Dolores herself... are all things that add up to create a quite complex analysis.
    I'm not saying I loved the book - love is not the right feeling and the right word - but it got me thinking and sometimes i think is one of the best thing a book can do. So i advice you to finish it and doing it without thinking to much about the delicate subject at matter. Nabokov created a character that you cannot hate even though he is guilty of horrible things. It is controversial, but worth the reading. It did make me unconfortable, but i took it as positive sign. If it didn't probably there would be something wrong xD
    Sorry for the intrusion! Hugs from italy :)