Today, the guys in the Goodreads Top 5 Wednesday group had a great topic: Books with hard topics.  Not hard as in “intellectually challenging” or “difficult to comprehend”, but hard as in the subject matter was tough for my sensibilities to take. And I have picked out some books which absolutely fit that description for me personally.  Let’s see if you agree or disagree with my choices.


lord foul's bane5. Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson

As a teenager, I admit I was sheltered from the harsh realities of the world.  Nothing horrible ever happened to me or to anyone I loved.  Sure, I knew terrible things occurred outside my middle class home, but other than the news, I had no experience with them.  Even my choices in entertainment were fairly vanilla back in the eighties, not many horror movies for me, so when I read this fantasy and saw the main character horribly attack an innocent girl, then nothing happen to him, I was shocked.  I was so upset I stopped reading for weeks — until I decided I had to see how he got what was coming to him.  Unfortunately, he never did.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

under the yoke4. Under the Yoke by S.M. Stirling

When I read this as a teenager, the alternate history of a European continent under the control of a white supremacist African Empire really bothered me.  The casual violence, merciless killings, and intense scenes of slavery really made me cringe.  All because I was use to the glorified, stylistic violence of my favorite series like Lord of the Rings and The Belgariad.  What made matters even worse was that there were no “good guys” coming to save the day.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Beyond Redemption Cover with blurb3. Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher 

One of my favorite books of 2015 started off as a story which I wasn’t sure was for me.  Initially, the delusional, clinically insane, and completely deprave characters had me wondering if I could stomach anymore of their bizarre behavior, but once I understood it was all part of the magical madness of the world Mr. Fletcher had created I embraced my inner demons and let the madness run wild.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

The_Stand_Uncut (1)2. The Stand by Stephen King

I vividly remember reading this book when I was in college.  The first half when the flu epidemic begins then spreads was hard for me to read about.  It was so realistic, so masterfully written by Mr. King that I would walk around campus and be terrified every time someone would sneeze next to me.  I hate to admit it paralyzed me, but it really did.  But I still finished it, and I still view it as one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

the road1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Post-apocalyptic story of a father and son traveling down a seemingly endless road to the sea.  They were looking for something better than the inhuman horrors of the world left behind after a terrible cataclysm.  The only thing tender about this place the love they share.  And because I was a fairly new father with three small sons, this dad’s struggle to protect his child no matter the cost was pure torture for me to read; the ending cutting out my heart in the most painful way possible.  It was (and still is) the hardest book I have ever read, the one which tormented me the most, and literally gave me nightmares, as I would dream of being faced with similar dire situations.  And I can assure all of you I will never, NEVER read it again.  Honestly, I’m not brave enough to try.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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  1. I was not a big fan of The Road. I was not feeling that literary style. Or whatever you call lack of punctuation.


  2. Can’t believe I’ve missed The Stand. Thanks for the reminder!


  3. I could appreciate that The Road was a great book but it was so dark and upsetting that I couldn’t say I enjoyed it and, I agree, I could never read it again!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Stand is indeed one of the best books about the apocalypse and its aftermath (and maybe it’s THE best…): I agree with you about the pacing and rhythm of the first part – it gives the words “horrified fascination” a whole new layer of meaning…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yeah, The Stand is pretty disturbing. I remember being traumatized by the idea of that character in prison, who remained healthy but everyone else was dead and there was no one left to let him out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sue Bridgwater says:

    I agree with you about Stephenson’s apparent unconcern about the rape scene – which is also incestuous – it’s as if it doesn’t matter, indeed it goes on to be an established relationship. Unpleasant to say the least.


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