Books I Successfully DNF’d in 2022! (A New Record!!)

I DNF’d a total of 23 books this year. That’s right: 23 BOOKS! This coming from a girl who always felt like she had to finish everything she picked up, regardless of whether it was remotely enjoyable or not. But I’ve turned over a new leaf- as you can see! 2022 was the year I fully embraced the DNF- because life is too short to read every. single. book (especially when you don’t even like them).

Now, given the sheer quantity of DNFs, I’m not going to go into detail about every single one. A lot of them were simply too dull or too graphic or not what I was looking for. Empire of Pain was obviously too painful (I may try to pick it up again when I’m feeling braver). I kissed Shara Wheeler reminded me why I didn’t like the author’s writing style. And Shuggie Bain was just too gloomy. Still- there were some that stuck in my mind (for all the wrong reasons) and I just *have to* talk about them… Let’s get into some of those lowlights, shall we? 

One to Watch– watch out- this one’s a little depressing. Which was a real downer, considering I was hoping for something light and frothy. I found it disappointing that the protagonist’s whole personality hinged on being plus sized. It kind of defeats the message of looking beyond appearances if you do nothing but focus on appearances. I just wasn’t getting what I wanted out of this book.

The Magician– I was so disconnected from this. There really wasn’t enough going on to keep my interest and there’s only so many times I can hear it repeated that the main character was not doing what his family wanted. I think there is a generational gap going on here, because some people really like (non) stories like this and I don’t get it.

Parable of the Sower– I held onto this book a lot longer than I should have, because I know what a brilliant author Octavia Butler is. But unfortunately, I don’t want to read a book about the end of the world right now (cos it feels like we’re living it! Perhaps (hopefully) something to pick up one day when the world is less grim.

Robber Bride– this is the one I had the highest anticipation for, because, while I didn’t love Handmaid’s Tale, I can see Atwood is talented and I really liked Alias Grace. Plus, I’d been meaning to read another Atwood for ages. But MY GOD the pacing. I don’t know what it is about the most acclaimed Atwood books not being my thing… but they are really not my thing.

Firekeeper’s Daughter– the writing style simply wasn’t for me. I was put off by the amount of telling- so much of the characterisation was written in a very basic way, in the vein of: “she’s my best friend, I’ve known her for years, here’s our entire history blah blah blah”. I also didn’t like imagined conversations to give us her parent’s backstory. Books like this have made me wonder if I’m even into YA anymore (which would be fair enough if I’m not 😜)

The Kingdoms– this was so unusual… perhaps a little too unusual for me. I loved the world building and the integration of Franco-British culture. Still, at times it was too strange for me and it lost me when it jumped back in time. I struggled to find my footing and then lost my way entirely. I read so much of this- nonetheless I couldn’t continue anymore. Time travel books are very hit or miss for me- speaking of which…

Time Traveller’s Wife– I wish I could go back in time and un-read this book. It wasn’t simply that I didn’t jive with this book, I actively hated it. Everything about the concept creeped me out. I just really don’t like it. Everything about the concept really creeps me out. I don’t like the paedophilic/grooming implications of her meeting her future husband as a child when he’s 40. It’s not cute, it’s creepy. There is the implication that this is all fine and dandy, since she makes the first move in the present, but that just comes across as victim blaming. She doesn’t have true agency- she was groomed from childhood to seek him out. I don’t even like when the main character meets himself as a child and gives instructions to have it be “our little secret”. Again, this is the sort of thing that groomers and child abusers do. I don’t understand why this book is popular, because I don’t find any of this quirky or romantic. It not only makes my head spin, it grosses me out. It would’ve been my least favourite book of the year if I’d finished it.

Babel– this was also a great big NOPE for me! Which was a real shame, as I was very much looking forward to this book. What I signed up for was a dark academia adventure set in 1800s Oxford… what I got instead was a plotless rant about history with a very basic linguistics lesson on the side. Not that it felt very grounded in history- modern phrases like “China is the future” and words like “diversify” aren’t exactly contemporary to the 19th century (which is rather amusing for a book about the history of language). Even for dark academia, there was too much focus on the academics to the detriment of everything else. Plus, for a book supposed to bring the focus onto the unseen in society, the characters read as flat caricatures. They read like stereotypes to me. And I knew the book wasn’t going to get any better when I was told, instead of shown that “he would have killed for any of his cohort”- without any evidence or action to back that up!! I was just supposed to believe they were best friends out of a couple of conversations!! Which brings me onto the awful amount of telling. Every single emotion was telegraphed through lines like “He was a child starved for affection”. Every. Single. One. I’m genuinely confused by all the people saying this book was beautifully written- because I couldn’t see it. I don’t care how popular this book is, I was completely fed up reading it and never wanted to pick it up.

Annnd that’s all for now! I’m sure one of those are bound to get me sent into bookworm exile! Sooo dare I ask- what did you think of these books? Have you read them? Did you manage to finish them? Let me know in the comments!

29 thoughts on “Books I Successfully DNF’d in 2022! (A New Record!!)

  1. I am ostensibly “reading” BABEL, but I should just give up and consider it official DNF’ed at this point. I agree with nearly everything you said. It’s boring, and a lot of what is has to say about history and language are things I know. I grant that if I’d read this as a teen and didn’t know much about the history of the English language, etc. I might have found it much more interesting. Reading it now, it’s just pages and pages of people literally giving lectures about things with something that can barely pass as a plot trying to hold it together and mark it as fiction/fantasy rather than a textbook. (And, yeah, it’s well-researched and, again, I might have found its textbookishness more interesting if I were less familiar with its topics, but here we are.)

    And I agree the characters are flat, which has been a problem with other dark academia like The Atlas Six, in my opinion. I guess authors get a grand vision and then get in the weeds of the academics and characterization becomes secondary or something.

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  2. I am VERY impressed you dnf’d 23. I only got to 10 myself this year.

    I’ve read Time Traveler’s Wife and besides the rather graphic sex scenes, I rather enjoyed it. I didn’t find it creepy. Not sure if that’s because I’m a guy or what though…

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  3. The only book on this list that I have read is Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco and I loved it. I’ve actually read everything she’s written and loved them all. She’s definitely a favorite author of mine.

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  4. The only one of these I have read is The Robber Bride. I read it while in college, and I did enjoy the writing, though of course some really really horrifying stuff happens, especially to Charis. I don’t know what I would think of it now.

    Actually, I picked it up for the title, which of course was a huge disappointment. I wanted a *real* Robber Bride. Ah well. I guess I should have read Grimm’s instead.


  5. oh wow, Congrats for freely DNF books you don’t vibe with! I’m not quite there yet, unfortunately.. 😅 There’s still a bit of guilt attached.

    Uh oh, I have Well Met on my shelf that I had been bumping down for a while.. Let’s hope I won’t have to DNF that one too – though I did enjoyed I kissed Shara Wheeler.


  6. I am currently reading Babel and was enjoying it but I think it’s much more dense and slow-paced than I expected so I have to pick it back up sometime in 2023. I don’t feel quite as strongly as you do about The Time Traveler’s Wife but I don’t remember it as one of my favorites, I think it dragged on quite a bit and was more depressing and heavy than I signed up for. I did watch the HBO Max series starring Theo James and loved it, simply because the actors did a marvelous job and Theo James has a great narrator’s voice 😌😍

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  7. I DNFd For the Wolf too — just could not bring myself to care at all. I actually really liked Well Met (and the rest of that series). 🙂 As for Time Traveler’s Wife, I read it back when it came out, and I suspect that it read very differently at that time than it does now, if that makes sense. I can see why it would seem creepy and gross through a modern-day lens, but I did love it at the time. Re Parable of the Sower, it’s an incredibly powerful book and I absolutely recommend holding on to it and coming back to it at some point — but it is very intense and maybe not the right choice for a year when the real world is so dire all on its own.

    I’m a big believer in DNFing books that aren’t working, so hurray for you in not wasting reading time on books that you’re not enjoying!


  8. Aww sorry When Breath Becomes Air didn’t work out for you. I really liked that one. Your thoughts on Babel really interest me. The more reviews of it I see that aren’t overly positive, the more curious I get about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh interestingly I didn’t dnf when breath becomes air for any reason other than squeamishness- I really struggle with most books with any medical aspect! I probably shouldn’t have picked it up in the first place 😂 ahh that’s good! Honestly I wish I’d seen something other than all the hype, because seeing nothing but “this book is perfect” for months gave me false expectations 😅


  9. I always have major troubling DNFing books. I should do it more, but I always have this bizarre feeling of obligation to finish something even if I’m not enjoying it.
    I read the Robber Bride years ago and liked it, but I remember very little detail-wise or pacing-wise.
    I’ve been really wanting to read Babel, so hopefully I’ll like it more than you did!


  10. Time Traveler’s Wife – awful, just don’t get all the fuss about it.
    The Magician – this was our book club choice but I couldn’t make it past 100 pages. It was so, so dull. Why didn’t he just do it as a biography??
    When Breath Becomes Air – I found this riveting. Not exactly cheerful reading but I did appreciate the questions he asks about who he is if he cannot do the thing he loves most in the world, treating patients


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