DNF (Did Not Finish)

This month we asked our librarians to tell us some recent books they decided to stop reading, and if they have any rules of thumb about when it’s time to put a book down.  Here are their responses!


I used to always stick with books hoping that even if I didn’t love them, they would get better later or somehow I’d still feel glad to have read them when I was done. But at some point I realized that life is just too short and there are TOO MANY BOOKS OUT THERE TO READ. I just can’t spend time on books that aren’t doing it for me! Here are the last few that I put down without finishing – I stopped after just a few chapters of each. I usually decide by 50 or so pages into the book whether or not I’ll continue.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell: the premise sounded pretty interesting, but I just couldn’t get into it. It was kind of boring and I didn’t care about the characters.

Straight Man by Richard Russo: I do like this author, but I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a book about a neurotic middle-aged man. Also, it was published in kind of a different time and some of the humor didn’t really hold up.

Everfair by Nisi Shawl: I really wanted to like this one! It’s an alternate history/steampunk novel set in the Congo and it sounded great. It probably IS great, but the first few chapters were all from different perspectives and the switching around kind of confused me before I had a chance to get into it. I have a feeling that it just wasn’t the right time for me to read it because I wasn’t able to focus.


Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

These are just a few books in the past two years I’ve started and never finished. Most of the time, I’ll drop a book if I can’t get into it within the first couple of chapters. I do make a note of re-considering it later on. I don’t think it has much to do with my preferences. I just feel like reading something else and there’s so much to choose from! Other times, I just don’t connect with characters, and that’s very important to me as a reader. I know I’d like to give Celeste Ng and Sarah Waters another go, even if I couldn’t get into those particular titles.


As my to-read pile has grown, I’ve become more likely to put down a book if it’s not grabbing me within the first 25-50 pages.  I’ve had to teach myself to parse out if I’m just not in the mood for a specific kind of story or if it’s something I wouldn’t enjoy even if I was in the right mood.  I’ve made peace with the fact that not every book is for me, even if the premise sounds great.  There are plenty of books out there that I will enjoy, why waste time on something I’m not having a good time reading? I can always come back to it later if I feel like I’m in a place to enjoy it.

A few titles I’ve put down for one reason or another are:

Evicted by Matthew Desmond (I wasn’t a fan of how much things were jumping around in this book.  It made it difficult to follow.  It got repetitive and ramble-y as well, and from what I read of it, I wish it had a tighter edit.)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (I thought the tie-ins to the images felt forced and stilted.  Despite sounding like it was right up my alley, it just never grabbed me in a way that made me care about the characters or the events that were unfolding.)

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (I think I’ll give this one another try someday, I think I just needed something a bit more fast paced when I picked this one up.)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Just not for me. Nothing about the beginning of the book interested me in the slightest.)

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (I want to read this someday, but it felt a bit more irreverent than what I wanted at the time.)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (I made it through most of this because there were glimmers of interesting things here and there, but it just ended up feeling like a slog too much of the time.)

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (This is one where the author definitely goes hard in pushing a tone in the beginning of the book, and something about the tone was rubbing me the wrong way. I may revisit this eventually to see if it was a wrong time situation, but I have a suspicion that’s it’s just not my cup of tea.)


What are the last books you didn’t finish?  Let us know in the comments below!

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