2017 DNFs: The Ok, The Bad & The Ugly

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While this blog is mostly about books I’ve read to completion, sometimes you just need a nice DNF list. I don’t really have a rule of thumb about when and why I DNF a book, but it occasionally happens. Life is truly too short, y’all, and my TBR list is too long.

Here are some of the books I hated, couldn’t tolerate, or simply felt apathetic about in 2017, in chronological order of when they were DNFed:

  • Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In by Bernie Sanders: 2/3 his campaign platform and 1/3 repetitive campaign inside stories. Needed a good edit.
  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith: After all the hype, I was sorely let down. Couldn’t relate to the flat characters or the meandering plot. DNFed around 50%.
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: I tried to venture into YA romance, I really did. The diverse characters drew me in, but the insta-love was just too much. Made it about 30%.
  • The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them by Joseph Stiglitz: Too dry, too academic, too much. I’m all about solid analysis of economic inequality (which I do think this is), but I needed more drive for this one that I just didn’t have.
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: While I usually like Murakami, I didn’t have the stomach or time for this meh 900 page chunker. Got 50 pages in and just didn’t care enough. Next.
  • Bed-Stuy is Burning by Brian Platzer: Boring, overly contrived book about racial tension and gentrification told from the wealthy, white perspective. Just what we all needed!
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: The same little voice in my head that convinced me to read Nicola Yoon had me pick this one up. Again, terrible writing, unbelievable character development and dialogue, trope-y as hell. I learned my lesson.
  • The Child by Fiona Barton: Finally, a thriller-of-the-day that appealed to me. Unfortunately, too slow, average characters, and (I’m sensing a theme here), I just didn’t care.
  • American War by Omar El Akkad: Another popular pick that I’m torn on – I didn’t finish it before it was due back at the library, and while I liked the first third that I got through, I have felt no inclination to pick it up again or buy it.
  • Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon: I was looking for immersive historical fiction. I got pages and pages of anachronistic dialogue and character behavior, sexism, meandering plots, and just plain weirdness. I couldn’t tough it out past the 200 page mark (in an 800+ page book!)
  • Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor: Oh, I wanted to like this so badly, and until about 40%, I did. I loved the lush descriptions and slow burn character development over the years, but the repetition started to bore me to tears and all I wanted was for it to be over.
  • Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore: I quite liked this Neil Gaiman-esque pick about immortality, but I’ve just never found my way back to it after setting it down.
  • The Golden House by Salman Rushdie: I expected an enthralling family saga set against modern politics, I got an unnecessarily dense, boring, tale of…nothing. Maybe another Rushdie would work better for me.
  • Golden Hill by Francis Spufford: This is was so immersive, I could smell 18th century NYC. Yet it was so dense that it was tough to get through the prose. I’m sure the ending would’ve paid off, but the utterly slow speed had me calling it quits.
  • Bunk: The True Story of Hoaxes, Hucksters, Humbug, Plagiarists, Forgeries, and Phonies by Kevin Young: One of the most anticipated nonfiction picks of the end of the year, I was looking forward to it. It was so dense, and required too much outside context, and was so utterly long and surprisingly academic, I just couldn’t bear it.


I perhaps have some controversial picks here, 17 in total – do y’all agree with me on these? Do you DNF? What did you not finish last year?

3 thoughts on “2017 DNFs: The Ok, The Bad & The Ugly

  1. I can see you points on some of those DNFed titles. I’ve read some of them, plan to read some of them, or decided against reading them by listening to my inner voice that’s usually always spot on about books… if I listen to it that is. I have been trying to get on board with DNFing…it’s a huge struggle for me. I like that you shared this list though. Good input without a whole post for each book.


    1. I feel it, I know some of these are well-loved! I usually trust my gut (and a selection of top GR reviews), but some of these led me astray lol.
      I’ve never hesitated to DNF – if I’m not feeling it or I truly hate it, why waste my time? Especially if it’s a library book/ebook (which many of these were). If I look at the numbers (100+ unread books I own, hundreds more I want to get to that I don’t own), I just don’t have the time for subpar reading!!
      I hope you can find a DNF balance that works for you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I’ve read a few titles like that. People praised The Light Between Oceans and I still for the life of me cannot understand why I even bothered finishing it. (I suspect it was because I had just jointed the book club that had selected it and I wanted to be able to participate and stuff. Ick.) I definitely see the logic in DNFing if you’re not into it. I might struggle with some FOMO there, because I’ve read some books that we not great to start but had a great ending, and I worry about missing out on one of those. Silly. Just silly. Maybe I’ll make that a goal for this year; identify when I need to DNF a book and then ditch that sucker.

        Liked by 1 person

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