It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme originally created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week there is a new topic or theme to base your top ten list on. You can find more details about it and see the list of topics here.
This week’s prompt is “Books I Decided to DNF (did not finish) too Quickly”. I couldn’t really think of any books that fell into that category; I don’t think I’ve ever regretted choosing to stop reading a book halfway through. If I ‘break up’ with a book, it’s a considered decision and I don’t beat myself up about it, I just accept that the book wasn’t for me. My free time is more precious than ever nowadays, so why spend it reading something I’m not enjoying?
So, I’ve decided to modify the topic to talk about the reasons why I do not finish certain books.
Top Ten Reasons I DNF
- Lack of editing-This might seem pernickety to some, but I find it really difficult to finish books that are littered with spelling and grammar mistakes or have contingency errors. I understand that typos happen (I make errors all the time!), but sometimes it’s glaringly obvious that the author has decided to forgo a professional editor. If I’m struggling to decode the punctuation, it pulls me out of the action and reading becomes a chore.
- Nothing is happening-The book doesn’t have to have intense action scenes from start to finish, but something pivotal has to happen fairly early on to hook me. I don’t want to read read pages and pages of description and backstory, with nothing of any interest happening to the characters.
- I don’t relate to the characters-I don’t have to like the characters to enjoy a book, but they have to be realistic and well-rounded enough that I can understand their motivations and the stakes involved. If I don’t care about the characters, I lose interest in their story arcs.
- I don’t like the writing style-Verbose writing, archaic language and complicated scientific jargon are things that I struggle with. I usually read to relax and don’t like to work my brain cells too hard! I don’t like reading books with too much telling versus showing or short, clipped sentences either.
- It’s too predictable-I like to be surprised with lots of different twists and turns and I enjoy books that put a unique spin on a popular trope. If I can see everything coming and the book is filled with tired clichés, I will probably be too bored to continue.
- The plot is too romance-heavy-I enjoy a little romance sometimes, but if it dominates the plot I will quickly lose interest, unless the writing is really something special. This is especially the case if it involves insta-love, love triangles or saccharine displays of affection. All of those have me reaching for the sick-bucket.
- Poor representation-I like reading diverse books with realistic representations of different races, genders, sexualities, disabilities, and so on. If a book lacks diversity I might finish it if the plot is strong. But if it perpetuates harmful stereotypes or has a biggoted message then it’s an instant DNF.
- I find the subject triggering-This doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally there is a sensitive topic or disturbing event in a book that makes me feel like I can’t continue. More often than not, it’s when a book involves violence towards children or animals.
- “It’s not you…it’s me”-Sometimes, I just don’t click with a book and I can’t find any enthusiasm to continue. It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong with it, but perhaps I’m just not the target audience or I’m at the wrong stage in my life to appreciate it. Or maybe there are things going on in my life that cause me to get behind with my reading and I just lose interest.
- I didn’t want to read it in the first place-Nowadays this doesn’t happen as I only read for fun. But I remember having to study novels at school and university that I had no desire at all to read. I would usually read about half and then read a summary of the rest of the plot!
Before you go…
What are the main reasons that you DNF?
Great spin on this week’s topic! I’m with you on this one, I rarely regret DNFing a book because there are other books I’d much rather be reading, and to be honest I think No.9 is the main reason I DNF – sometimes a book and I just don’t click, and it’s best for both of us that we acknowledge that and move on.
Yes, there’s no point on ploughing on with a book that you’re just not enjoying. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be!
I feel the same way – I never feel bad about not finishing a book, there are simply too many good books to read, and not enough time to read them all! I don’t have time to waste on books that just don’t engage me or hold my interest!
Exactly! I’d rather spend my (very limited) free time reading 4+ star books these days.
I rarely DNF a book. Sometimes it’s just so clunkily written that I can’t continue, but one of the main memories of DNF’ing that comes to my mind is a book that confused being gay with being a paedophile, and added a dash of racism and sexism for luck. Argh!
Wow, that’s crazy! How do books like that ever get published? Oh yes, because the publishing industry mainly consists of white, hetero men I suppose.
*sighs* Yep. It was written by a woman, though. Because apparently women can also write female characters who are walking sexist stereotypes.
I can definitely relate to a lot of these! And no, you’re not too pernickety for DNFing because of bad editing, I have done that too.
Glad I’m not the only one!
I love your twist on this topic. We all have reasons for DNF and it’s always good to see someone else showcase the reasons for it because it’s so relatable. I agree with you on all of these reasons. Sometimes, I don’t finish a book because it’s not my time for it (and when I go back to it, suddenly it’s like all else is forgotten) but the rest of the time is because I just couldn’t connect with it on the level necessary. Great list!
Yes, sometimes I give books another chance if I wasn’t in the right mood for them before, and find I actually like them. When I first picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (before it was really popular) I found the first chapter boring and didn’t continue. The second time I picked it up I fell in love with it and I’ve been HP mad ever since.
I don’t think any of your reasons are persnickety. I recently DNF a book that couldn’t seem to pick a genre. That said, I probably couldn’t name any books I didn’t finish, because I’m very good at forgetting bad memories!
I could probably think of more books that I’ve finished for the wrong reasons – like because they were on a “must read” list or a class curriculum. The Kite Runner and 100 Years of Solitude are just two. You do you!
Yeah, I can think of a few books that I wish I hadn’t finished. I’m glad I no longer have to read books I hate for school and uni essays.
I think these are all fair reasons as to why you wouldn’t want to keep on reading. Lack of editing really grinds on my nerves because it’s a problem with a very simple and easy solution. Sure, I’ll ignore the odd one here and there, but sometimes there just are too many. Relating to characters is also very important to me too, because even if the plot is a bit slow, they’re always in the spotlight and focus of my attention.
I’ve read some really bad ebooks that suffered from this problem, I just couldn’t get past it. Yes, relatable and interesting characters are so important, especially if it’s in first person.
Oh the editing. Yeah sometimes it’s just too much and can’t be overlooked. Very frustrating to come across those.
Yes, it’s disappointing to read something riddled with errors. I think some authors rush to publish before they’ve gone through the proper revision process.
I agree on all your points. Those are things that makes it hard to me to finish a book. And I’ve noticed that today I’m far more willing to put down a book that is disappointing than I used to be.
Violence is a tricky matter. Sometimes it is necessary to the story, so I try to endure it. But I’ve notice that a lot depends on the author’s treatment. Some books manage to depict a great violence without make it disgusting. It isn’t easy, but I’ve seen it done.
And of course, if as a reader I understand that there is a reason, then I’ll accept it as part of the plot and the hero’s journey.
Yes, that’s a great point. I’m more willing to accept it if it’s not just gratuitous violence for shock value. And I do enjoy gory murder mysteries from time to time. I’m just a little oversensitive in general-I mean I can’t watch Toy Story 3 without crying (don’t even get me started on The Land Before Time) so I don’t always want to put myself through something emotional.