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!

(Most of) My 2021 DNFs!

This is gonna be a weird post this year- because I DNF’d A LOT of books for a change… and then promptly forgot about half of them. That’s right: there has been a serious shift in my reading habits. I have gone from being the shy, timid monkey who would never close a book before finishing it well, (sort of 😉) … to a serial DNFer. It’s meant I’ve read fewer books this year- and yet I’m happier for it and (usually) more satisfied with the ones I do finish. For the most part, I simply wasn’t vibing with the style and would consider picking it up again one day. That accounts for these books:

These, however, earned their DNFs:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck- oh FFS, I’m no stranger to swear words but this seems excessive, even to me. I wasn’t getting anything out of this. I don’t agree with the premise anyway, so this lost me very early on. I guess I’ll just go on caring too much.

Genuine Fraud– I love the idea of stories told backwards… it’s only a shame that they rarely work for me. I didn’t click with the structure and found it made it impossible to get to know the characters. I was completely lost at 15% and decided to call it a day.

Shadow of Night– mea culpa- I shouldn’t have picked up this book. I’ve no idea why I impulsively bought it (well, except for the fact it was on sale) since I didn’t like the first one. However, I did enjoy the show and really, really wanted to know what happened. Bit silly, because I do still intend on watching it- and I reckon I’ll get more out of it that way.

Such a Fun Age– I was promised humour and didn’t laugh in the first 33%. Not even a wry chuckle or a smirk. Who knows, maybe the last 67% would have me in side-splitting hysterics- but sadly I’m not willing to take that chance.

Cinderella is Dead– the cover and title are amazing, but the book is so full of bitterness and anger. It’s not a mood I enjoy.

Rose Code– believe me, I wanted to love this book. I tried for such a long time. I still consider this author to be great- it’s only sad this one wasn’t for me. I couldn’t put my finger on why, since the only thing I actively disliked was the use of real people. I just wasn’t clicking with the characters or story, so sadly gave up on it.

Gods and Monsters– I don’t care enough to finish this series. Honestly, I shouldn’t have bothered after book 2 let me down.

House of Leaves– I didn’t only find the style unappealing… it was actively off-putting. I don’t see myself ever finishing this, which is a shame, because I love this kind of experimental story. Although on that note…

Lincoln in the Bardo– this is the kind of literary “experimentation” that gets on my nerves.

And that’s all (I remember quitting)! Do you think I made the right choice? Would you recommend powering through any of these? And what are your feelings on DNFing? Let me know in the comments!

Books I successfully DNF’d #2

A few months back I did a post talking about books I successfully DNF’d. What I loved about doing that post is it encouraged me to give up on books I’d have otherwise powered through… So I decided to do another one for the other books I’ve DNF’d this year! I might even make a tradition of it (if I can keep up the DNFing that is). For now, let’s just jump into it:

Devouring Gray– at first, I thought there was no real reason to DNF this, cos I liked the opening and thought it was pretty atmospheric. Still, I hit a roadblock at 43% and couldn’t seem to get passed it. I simply didn’t care where it was headed and I was trying to have more pleasurable reads in the pandemic, so quit while I was ahead, thinking I could try it again at some point. I really wanted to like it, so a month or so later, I picked it up again… only to get stuck again at 15%. That’s when I realised the problem wasn’t in my head. I think there’s a serious pacing and character issue for me here.   

Fix Her Up– this really didn’t work for me as a “fake girlfriend/boyfriend” story. They started getting it on pretty fast- so it doesn’t really qualify. It also didn’t help that I didn’t find the characters very likeable. However, what absolutely killed this book for me was how awkward the descriptions were for the romance- things like rashes are just off-putting and shouldn’t be anywhere near a sex scene. Worst of all, while they’re making out, the male lead thinks she’s looking at him like she’s going to “harvest his organs”- how… sweet?

Hygge Holiday– I borrowed this for my sister, but of course, once it was in my hands, I thought I might give it a try too… I got a few chapters in before deciding “not for me”.

Nine Perfect Strangers– I borrowed this on overdrive, cos I loved Big Little Lies by the same author. Yet, after two weeks of struggling to get into it, I realised it wasn’t going to work. Sadly, the characters remained strangers to me and I just couldn’t connect with any of it. Plus, the reviews weren’t looking too positive, so it didn’t seem worth powering through. 

Angel Mage– this book did nothing for me, unfortunately. I got about 2/3 of the way in before I started skimming. At that point I knew it was only a matter of time before I DNF’d. I think I only had 10% left before I gave up.

The Secret Barrister– I couldn’t stand the longwinded pomposity. I quit after 2 (very long) chapters. I think he was trying to copy Kay’s success with a professional memoir… but this is nothing like This is Going to Hurt. It’s got none of the charm, humour or heart- just plenty of virtue signalling.

The Ragwitch– I just had a completely different view of what this book would be. I thought it was going to be a spooky story, but it was in actuality a slightly MG adventure story. Not a bad thing, but not the kind of thing I wanted to be reading.

Hot Milk– this is my latest (and really recent) DNF. I tried with this one, but I just couldn’t stick out the 200 pages to the end! Unfortunately, after a well-written opening, it just became a bit staid and samey and wasn’t doing anything for me. I’m blaming the morose tone and flat voice- after the year we’ve all had, I just didn’t want to be in this Debbie Downer’s head a moment longer.

Annnnd that’s all I have for now! Not bad for me- but could be better! Especially since there was a real stinker that I DNF’d and picked back up again (which will be mentioned in my most disappointing of the year).

But what I want to know is- did I make a mistake with any of these? If you’ve read them, do you recommend finishing? Or did you get more out of them? Let me know in the comments!

Why do I struggle to DNF?

thoughts orangutan

I’ve talking a bit lately about how to DNF and books I’m glad I DNF’d, but I haven’t actually got into why I find it so hard. With this discussion, I’ve been wondering if it’s always a mistake to DNF or (equally) if it’s a bad idea to keep going. So I’ve written a list of reasons why I struggle to DNF. Some of these reasons are good… some not so much- let’s get into them…

dune#1 FOMO– this is probably the biggest one for me personally. There are so many books out there that are acclaimed or a BIG DEAL in some way- and I can never quite forgive myself for not liking each and every one of those (ridiculous, I know! but that’s why I’ve powered through books like Dune, despite not liking the writing style from the start) A huge part of me always wants to know what the fuss is about and doesn’t like the idea that I’m somehow not getting everything I could out of books. If this is my sole motivator for continuing with a book I’m not interested in or don’t like, I’m just going to have to learn to let go.

mrs dalloway#2 Because I like to persevere. For me personally, I have a very positive association with perseverance. I like to see things through, no matter what. So, if I give up on a book, I feel ridiculously guilty. It even makes me pick up books again, like  Mrs Dalloway, long after I’ve DNF’d them!

 

lolita#3 The shame– this is kind of a combination of #1 and #2. I feel an overwhelming sense of failure if I can’t make it through a book I’m not enjoying (which is rather silly, since this is a hobby, not a job!) I also don’t like the idea of admitting I couldn’t make it to the end of a book. Thus, I tend to power through, long after I should’ve just called it quits.

 

a separate peace#4 For work/uni– of course, sometimes I am obliged to finish something whether I want to or not. And that kinda sucks, especially in the case of Lolita or even a Separate Peace, but it’s part and parcel of life- sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.

 

NutshellMcEwan#5 So I can review it– this is in part another sense of obligation (though of course I rarely do ARCs and more rarely still dislike them). However, it also comes down to the fact that I take (a twisted kind of) pleasure in being able to drag a book I didn’t enjoy. And how could I review something properly if I haven’t finished it? Of course, I could just review what I’ve read so far or *shock horror* not bother to review it at all… which I actually do with a fair amount of books I’ve finished anyway 😉 (plus, if the reason I didn’t like it is because I was bored, I won’t have much to say regardless!)

magician's guild#6 The occasional book that proves me right. We’ve all been there once or twice: picked up a book, found ourselves hating it, yet *miraculously* just as we’re about to throw the book at a wall or coming to the final act, the book rewards our patience and we end up loving it. For me, the most memorable example was Magician’s Guild– a book I’m still a bit meh about, but a series I’m crazy for! If I’d given up on that, I’d have really missed out (there’s that FOMO again) so with that in mind, I sometimes push on.

bringing down the duke#7 If I really like the concept. This goes hand in hand with the last one. If I saw something in the concept and have faith in the story, then I’m going to have a tough time giving up on it (especially if it was super hyped!) I can keep going as long as I have the merest glimmer of hope (…which is sadly so infrequently rewarded).

 

ordinary men#8 Some books are hard, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. Similarly to #7, I do like to pick up the odd challenging book and that can have its downsides. A book can be tough for any number of reasons- difficult subject matter, complex writing etc. Often, it is for the best that I power through, even if I’m not enjoying it… but then, with books like Ordinary Men and Gulag Archipelago they’re not exactly meant to be enjoyed. And that’s okay- I just have to be a bit more prepared to persevere with those books and remember why I’m trying to read them in the first place.

happily ever after#9 I may have been in the wrong mood when I picked it up. As a self-confessed mood reader, I’ve had this on numerous occasions. And it doesn’t help that I don’t always recognise what I’m in the mood for… or in some cases ignore my mood entirely. Recently, I felt like reading thrillers, but with everything going on I convinced myself I must want to pick up fluffy contemporaries. All this did was make me slumpy (and make me give up on two contemporaries in a row: Happily Ever After and V is for Virgin). What a waste of reading time!

Now that I think about it, most of these are pretty positive reasons to keep going… it’s just those handful of times that I’m clinging to a book longer than I should. I know that if I’m only reading something out of a sense of misplaced shame or FOMO, that’s not good enough. And I have to recognise that if I’m in the wrong mood or it’s just not clicking, I may have to abandon it for the time being (or maybe I should just cut my losses). Ultimately, I have to be honest with myself and DNF for the right reasons.

So, how about you? Do you struggle with DNFing? Why? Or, if you are an experienced DNFer, what are your secrets? Let me know in the comments!

Books I Successfully DNF’d!

orangutan list

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I give myself enough credit for DNFing. No matter how much I tell myself that it’s good to DNF, that life’s too short, that I don’t have to finish everything I start, I still feel like it’s a shameful secret that I’ve given up on something. So today, I thought I’d start working on that attitude by *celebrating* some of my successful DNFs! Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll get better at singing about my DNFs across the blogosphere. Okay *deep breaths*, it’s time to confess boast about my DNFs:

happily ever afterHappily Ever After– Let’s start off with the book that inspired this recent spate of posts- a book I embarrassingly proudly DNF’d in March. In fairness to the book, this DNF in part came down to my mood. I thought right now I needed to read contemporaries… but that just isn’t the case (apparently I’m craving something a little bit darker). However, the reason I read 70% of this and quit was more to do with the fact the story felt entirely unnecessary. I fell in love with its predecessor, Cinder and Ella, because it offered a fun Cinderella retelling. This not only lacks the charm of the original, it also feels like filler.

v is for virginV is for Virgin– annnd this one is straight up embarrassing. I DNF’d this shortly after Happily Ever After, not only failing to learn my lesson that I wasn’t in the mood for contemporary, but also going for a book by the same author (in fairness, I have liked her books before, so I imagined it was a blip). As with Happily Ever After, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this, I simply wasn’t feeling it.

murmur of beesMurmur of Bees– this is definitely a case of it’s not the book, it’s me. I can see, objectively, that this had beautiful writing and strong characterisation. I just… knew immediately that this wasn’t my sort of story. I struggled through about half of it, before realising I didn’t want to do it anymore.

 

to the lighthouseTo the Lighthouse– putting this on here is more like a promise to myself than anything else. As I’ve mentioned before, I never like stream of consciousness and so have always clashed with Virginia Woolf. This was no exception to that rule. A little part of me really thought when I put this down that it wouldn’t be forever. Yet, as I realised after finally completing Mrs Dalloway last year, that would be a BIG MISTAKE! For my own sake, I should leave well enough alone! So, for goodness sake Future Me, heed this list, stop whatever it is you think you’re doing and don’t pick this up- else you’ll make a liar of us both!

wickedWicked– oh man, this was atrocious. I *hated* the writing style and was bored throughout. I can’t actually remember if I made it to the end or not, but I’m counting it because I definitely remember abandoning it on several occasions (and if I did finish it I must’ve skimmed, because I don’t remember it!)

 

mysteries of udolphoMysteries of Udolpho– I picked this up solely because it’s referenced by other famous works… and it wasn’t anywhere near their league! For a book about mysteries and naughty monks, it was a very dull tome indeed. After trying to read a few very dull pages every few weeks, I realised no amount of cool points for reading the book mentioned in Northanger Abbey would make this worth my time. At least I sort of get the joke about people reading this sensational novel (it feels a bit like making fun of Twilight, maybe…?)

otherworldOtherworld– this was just completely meh. Other books have done this story better (try Ready Player One) and with more interesting characters (that aren’t simply obsessed with the length of their nose). It felt like a celebrity cashing in on a tried and tested story- it’s only a pity that they didn’t do a better job of copying other’s works.

 

And that’s all I’ve got! I told you I’m not that good at DNFing! Do you have any books you’ve proudly DNF’d? If so, why did you give up on them? Let me know in the comments!

How to DNF!

Every so often I come across a meh book and renew my promise to get better at DNFing… but I never do. That’s why I decided to realllly think about how I could improve! With a great deal of research (into fun gifs) I’ve managed to write a comprehensive guide- enjoy!

pick up book

Step 1: Crack open a book, hyped or otherwise, naively *brimming with excitement*

thinking monkey

Step 2: Realise “huh, this wasn’t as good as I thought it would be”

reading

Step 3: *Shrug shoulders* and keep reading- but this time with a growing sense of foreboding…

bored

Step 4: Feel the boredom growing.

mood reader2

Step 5: So. Much. Boredom.

read-fast

Step 6: *Start speed reading*, thinking that maybe it’ll get better, but begin to consider that this book may not be for you and perhaps you should just quit…

my everest

Step 7: But no! There must be a reason you picked it up in the first place! This must be your secret mission in life! You must PERSEVERE!! Continuing against the odds, you feel the weight of this uphill battle as you trek, page by page, deeper into this dreadful tome…

despair

Step 8: With a sinking feeling, you wonder will there be a light at the end of this tunnel…

light at the end of the tunnel

Step 9: …but there is only darkness…

think pen write

Step 10: You wonder if maybe you’re only reading on just so that you can write that stinking review.

agonise over decision I don't know what to do

Step 11: And if this is true, you realise it may not be the best reason to keep reading… yet still you *agonise over the decision* past the 30% mark…

throw book2

Step 12: Okay, that’s it, you’ve had enough. *Put the book down*

three hours later

Step 13: You stay strong for approximately three hours.

choose books2

Step 14: Then you cave and pick that bad boy up again!

pretending to read

Step 15: Ugh, you realise it’s worse than you remember.

throw books

Step 16: *Put that book down again*

hide homer abandon

Step 17: Leave said book on your bedside table for approximately three weeks.

stare shiftily

Step 18: Eye book, thinking “maybe I’ll try it again”.

put book back on shelf

Step 19: Quietly put book back on the shelf, promising yourself this is not the end…

unhaul books

Step 20: …except it kind of is, because you’ll never pick that book up again until three years have passed and you’re looking for something to unhaul. You think to yourself “maybe I was wrong about it”, but nah, it’ll look better in an unhaul photo than a review… and so you announce on your blog that you never finished it and never will!

thumbs up

*Congratulations you have successfully DNF’d

House of Fear was a Frightful Bore

house-of-fearFull disclosure: I could not finish this collection. I got about halfway through before doing the smart thing and giving up. Honestly, the main reason I gave up on this is that I wasn’t scared. At all. Not even a little bit. I have a hyperactive imagination, can be easily jumpy and so I am pretty easy to scare. And yet in this supposedly scary story collection, the bravest thing I had to do was DNF it.

Yet since I wasted enough time with it, I thought I might share them with you anyway. Welcome, then, to my very first DNF review… where everything is unsatisfactory and incomplete.

To say this was a mixed bag would be too generous a description, because too often the same issues plagued these stories. One of the main issues that occurred time and again with this book was that there was much too much detail. Now, a little mundanity I can understand, creating a nice contrast in a scary story, but “I need fairy liquid” while going grocery shopping (and the whole darn grocery list) is too much. Honestly, too much information is always an issue, but this was especially noticeable in short stories. Far too many of these were convoluted instead of atmospheric, weird instead of intriguing, and mostly *yawn* instead of *ahhh*!

There were also too many stories- too many for me going into detail for all of them (especially since none of them could keep my attention for long) though I will address a few. “Objects in Dreams May Be Closer Than You Think” felt like it was trying too hard to be clever and didn’t deliver the promised chills. “Pied a Terre” was the only one I found genuinely creepy and had a strong, convincing voice. “An Injustice” was the last story I read and was alleged (from other reviews) to be good, so I powered through it, but there was a political vein to it (cos why not, everything needs to be political nowadays) that was just too meh to be interesting.

Since I didn’t finish this it wouldn’t be fair to give it any bananas, so I guess I shall declare this “the end”. The one great thing about this was that it inspired me to write a short story for the first time in *years* …. One I might share on here, if I feel like it 😉 (yes odd that sometimes blah stories are more inspiring than the ones that make you think “I could never do that”)

So how easily can you DNF books? And what was the last book you gave up on? Let me know in the comments!

To Not To Read Tag

Hello all!! Now I’m really rubbish at DNF’ing books- but there are more than a few books I wish I hadn’t finished, so I thought it would be fun to do this tag anyway!

Thank you so much to the awesome Rivermoose Reads for tagging me to do this one!!

Rules:

Thank the person that tagged you (See above!)

Include ping-back to creator of tag (Icebreaker694)

Answer questions (See below!)

Tag other poor souls to do this (Trust me, I won’t)

Easy right?

Oh and only use books that you DNF as your answer hence the “to not to read” part

What book would you be willing to finish?

gulag archipelago

Well I could go with the rest of the book I’m currently reading, but I’m going to say the Gulag Archipelago, because I have read the first two volumes and have five more to go. It’s quite an undertaking- but I think it will be well worth it in the end.

A dystopian book that you put down.

testing

I rarely put books down! I wish I’d given up on the Testing series though!!

A book that you just didn’t want to finish at all.

I wish Id dnf

A sequel.

twilight

There didn’t have to be a sequel to Twilight

A book you’ll never again pick up.

lolita

A book with too much hype.

The_Bone_Season_cover

The Bone Season was called the “next Harry Potter”- I think we can all agree that’s just setting it up for failure.

A haunting read.

I don’t think I read enough scary books to think of an answer- I guess I could have done without reading the Accident Season

A contemporary.

99 days

Totally not worth finishing

A book you were unsure of.

wicked

Boy did I struggle to get to the end of this!! I DNF’d it a million times before finishing it. I even lent it out to someone while I was still “reading” it to get another opinion (unfortunately this book did find its way back to me). Totally not worth it in the end.

I TAG:

A Novel Glimpse

Sophie @ Blame Chocolate

A Back of the Envelope Calculation

Angelica @ The Book Cover Girls

Book Bum

Lost Art of Reading

Tiana @ The Book Raven

That was fun! What book do you wish you had DNF’d? Let me know in the comments below!