A stack of textbooks (Image credit: Logan Ingalls)

Every college student, no matter where they go to school, will likely encounter some classes that are practically impossible to fully understand and enjoy. This could be because of the professor teaching the class. It might be due to the fact that the material is very complex and requires extra attention and studying in order for students to learn it effectively. But it could also have something to do with the textbooks that are required for the class.

Some textbooks are just plain hard to read and understand because of how they are written or the kind of material that is found inside them. The following textbooks have been considered some of the “hardest” textbooks for college classes. There is certainly nothing wrong with these books since they are widely accepted by professors, but you might have to do a little extra rereading if you have to buy these for your classes:

1) Contemporary Issues in Bioethics by Tom L. Beauchamp
The word “bioethics” probably sounds a bit confusing all by itself. And when you include the phrase “contemporary issues,” it means even more for your brain to process. Originally published in 2007, this book deals with current controversial issues within modern biology and medicine. This would likely be a book that medical or biology students would come across in their studies.

2) Structure and Interpretation of Computer Language by Harold Abelson
Published in 1996, this textbook is actually still used by some professors because of its wide-spanning information about technology in general. If you are a computer science major, you likely used this book or at least knew of it. Get ready for some complex concepts and issues when opening this book for the first time. Even some of the most computer-savvy users will struggle a bit with some of the topics discussed in this book.

3) The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages by Harold Bloom
This book examines the political issues that are prevalent in a number of Western literature titles and how politics has had an impact on storytelling by some of the most revered authors in history. Originally published in 1995, this book is still used in higher-level English literature courses and could be on your book list if you are a graduate student.

4) The Genesis of Doctrine: A Study in the Foundation of Doctrinal Criticism by Alister McGrath
If the title of this book doesn’t have you shaking your head a bit, you might start doing so when you pick it up and try to read it. Published in 1997, this book is geared toward higher-level theology students who are interested in the ministry. Many of the ideas expressed in the book are quite abstract. You might have to consult with your minister to decipher some of the information in here.

5) Vector Calculus by Jerrold Marsden
Vector calculus is considered by many to be the highest form of mathematics in terms of how complex it is. If you are a math wiz, test your abilities by picking up a copy of this book. Try to solve some of the problems if you are feeling confident in your mathematical skills. If you are a math major, particularly in a graduate program, this book will likely come in handy at some point in your studies. This book was originally published in 2003.