A DNF Post

DNF is an acronym meaning “Did Not Finish”. The Orangutan Librarian’s very entertaining post outlining the angst of getting through books that are difficult to finish is the inspiration for this post. Her post is very funny, and it will be to any bibliophile who has struggled to read a book that is supposed to be the bee’s knees. You should go read it. Really, the use of gifs alone is worth the click.  Her description of trying to get through a book, sometimes just for the sake of writing a review, made me chuckle:

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

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

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

Step 4: Feel the boredom growing.

Step 5: So. Much. Boredom.

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…

There are 14 more steps, which just get funnier as she goes along. And the gifs, 😄 😄😄.

Anyhow, it occurred to me that I have never done a DNF post before. Since there have been several books that I’ve started and couldn’t finish for various reasons, and I am running behind schedule cranking out book reviews, now is as good a time as any to recall a few books I just couldn’t finish. A couple of these are classics, beloved by teachers and literature buffs alike and one or two are nonfiction books that strained credulity such that I couldn’t finish. First, the classics:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: I figured out quite a long time ago that fantasy isn’t really my cup of tea. Fantasy combined with nautical is even less my cup of tea, but Jules Verne is a classic author! I fancy myself a fan of classic books! Why couldn’t I get beyond being bored with this book? After all, I have read and loved nautical themed books. There was The Old Man and the Sea, Captain’s Courageous, and The Lion’s Paw. I think the problem is that I just don’t care for Verne’s writing, and I’ve decided that I’m okay with that.

The Scarlet Letter is, I have decided once and for all, a terrible book by almost any standard. I remember reading it in high school and feeling neutral about it. I picked it up for a quarter several years ago at a used bookstore to jog my memory, and I wished I hadn’t. I couldn’t read it when I wasn’t under duress at the barrel of a bad grade.

Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Why this book is so beloved, I simply do not know. I’ve read other books by Morrison, such as The Bluest Eye, which were coherent and which flowed somewhere, and I liked them well enough. Even if I didn’t agree 100% with the premises she put forth, at least there was a premise to disagree with.  Beloved is a jumbled bunch of nonsense stretched out over 300 pages.

In the nonfiction category, I’ve run across a few books that were particularly hard to finish as well, for various reasons.

Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi. This is one that someone told me that I needed to read. I needed to be enlightened and educated, they said. So, despite my general abhorrence of grievance peddling and oppression literature, I checked this book out from the library. I wondered if there may be some glaring gaps in my black history that would be filled in here. I got about a quarter of the way through it before I took it back to the library. The logical fallacies alone were more than my brain could handle, and after learning that by the standards of the author, I’m hovering somewhere between self-hatred and a race traitor, I knew I had to put it down.

After the Ball: I decided very quickly that reading something that I watched happen in real-time is a waste of time. back to the library with this one.

And then there were the books that I began, loved, and found that the pace of my life when I picked them up wouldn’t allow me to give them the level of concentration they merited.

The Brothers Karamazov: I began this book and loved it almost immediately, but the timing was bad. I was too busy to soak it in. I’m really looking forward to reading this one next month once the school year is done.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: The title speaks for itself, and I’m looking forward to reading this memoir.

Those are a few of the books I began but didn’t finish for various reasons.

What about you?






6 thoughts on “A DNF Post

  1. Beth Gordon says:

    I have a hard time not finishing books (like not eating all the food on my plate 🤦🏾‍♀️). I want to read them anyway so I can make sure I really don’t like them despite knowing I’m wasting my valuable reading time. There are a few books I didn’t finish but I didn’t keep track of them. I should start doing that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. smkoseki says:

    I don’t think I have ever “finished” a book. I don’t read books that way. To me, language is just an attempt to express ideas, which I quickly put into my own format/memory/understanding.

    One exception to this is artistic books that are emotive language meant to trigger emotion, say poetry or even some religious texts.

    So I start with a skim of the work, then keep circling around it until I’m sure it doesn’t have anything left for me. Sometimes that is literally the review. Other times it’s a 2 minute rejection. Often it’s just a 5-10 minute skim. Sometimes, it takes a month (readable but not good), sometimes a quarter or year (what I call a good book), rarely a lifetime (say The Imitation of Christ or say the book of Romans or say Dante).

    But the vast, vast majority get 5 minutes, never to return. My problem: I have zero predictive power so need to waste a lot of time looking for those gold nuggets :-).


  3. Curly Sue says:

    Fictional books have three chapters to get me hooked, otherwise I will stop reading them, never to be picked up again. I must admit that I often peek at the end of book once I get into it just to make sure I will like the ending. I recall getting two-thirds of the way through “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” before my customary “peek.” The ending was too depressing, so I stopped reading on the spot.

    With non-fiction, it doesn’t have to be quite as enthralling. I tend to read them a chapter at a time to absorb what I’ve read. I used to trudge through books that were boring because I figured reading it was “good for me.” But, last year I turned fifty and decided that if I’m that bored with a non-fiction book that has no immediate application to my life, then it’s okay to drop it.


  4. hearthie says:

    I was going to write how I don’t like to not-finish books, but … that’s not true. I don’t like to not-finish books that I commit to, but there are hundreds of books that I’ve gotten a chapter or so into and said, “nah”. (I won’t include books I’ve regretted buying in e-form, since I don’t always get a good chance to flip through those to browse as much as I’d like prior to purchase). I don’t seem to enjoy reading history. It’s depressing and I tend to wander off – but I have any amount that I’m intending to get back to. Someday.

    My main book-sadness of late is an inability to find fiction authors that I find friendly.

    FWIW – I had to read Beloved for a grade. And it wasn’t pleasant. But it wasn’t the least-pleasant book that term. I agree ENTIRELY about the Scarlet Letter. Books of that era in America generally were pretty painful, and that one… oy.


  5. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Aww thank you so much for sharing my post and for your kind words! ❤ I seem to remember reading a book by Verne at some point and don't think it was for me either. I always hear such meh things about a scarlet letter that I've never read it. I also liked bluest eye, but didn't enjoy beloved. That's completely fair about brothers Karamazov- I'd definitely have to be in the right mood for that too! Hope you like it when you do get to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Krysta says:

    I didn’t really connect with or enjoy Beloved, but I guess I feel like saying so publicly is some sort of sacrilege. I respect Toni Morrison and her work, but, like you, I didn’t love Beloved!


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