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?