A Testament To Failure (DNF)

I usually try to get a fair way through a book before abandoning it even though I believe you can tell if you like it or not way before then. I’ve only recently (at the end of 2014) added a DNF shelf to my Goodreads shelves, but I thought it would be interesting to look at why I tend to let books go…

Here I’ve compiled a list of some books I’ve abandoned ‘until further notice’ (with how long I lasted in brackets) under some broad explanation categories, but I do intend to revisit some of the titles listed below. (Even some of the ones in the “Didn’t Enjoy” and “Got Bored” categories!)

Didn’t Enjoy

∆ A Room Of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (page 13; ebook sample)

∆ A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (page 1)

Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley (page 26)

∆ Chant and Be Happy: The Power of Mantra Meditation by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda (≈⅓ through)

Got Bored

∆ It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden (skimmed entirety)

∆ The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides (≈halfway through)

∆ The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (a few pages)

∆ Maurice by E.M. Forster (chapter 2; ebook sample)

Zealot by Reza Aslan (chapter…3? audiobook.)

The Trial by Franz Kafka (chapter 3. audiobook.)

Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (≈halfway? more? audiobook.)

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (≈a few chapters?? audiobook.)

??? (Put it down for whatever reason and just never looked back)

∆ The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (a few chapters from the end)

∆ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (≈halfway through)

❤ I’ve strayed from but fully intend to find my way back to ❤

∆ A Beginner’s Guide To Reality by Jim Baggott (≈5/6th through)

I love this book. I really do. But I’ve been stuck in the third part for, like, five(5!) years now. It’s so informative and well-written and interesting, but I’m bot gonna lie: the physics in the third section is kicking my butt! I keep losing myself, start thinking about stuff as I’m reading then have to reread passages! AAAH! I need to finish this…And start his other book I bought. hah

∆ Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L Sayers (a few pages in)

Reading through the Scottish accent was hard work so I think I’d put it down for a bit then when I moved house it went missing for a little while (read: a few years) but I do intend to pick it up again. In fact, it’s on one of my 2015 reading challenges.

∆ Psmith, Journalist by PG Wodehouse (a few pages in)

I don’t know what happened here. I love Wodehouse’s Psmith series (and was, therefore, shocked by how unimpressed I was with his more famous Jeeves series). The wide, awkward format of my particular edition is a bit annoying but I need to pick it up again.

Necronomicon by HP Lovecraft (5 stories in)

I was enjoying this. I started it as a Halloween challenge then things got busy… But then I had the idea that I’d pick it up every October and just read as much as I could until eventually I finish the book. I have been keeping a log of my ratings for each story with a few mini-reviews.

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23 Responses to A Testament To Failure (DNF)

  1. Pingback: Overhyped Books | Bitches With Books

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  3. I have this strange problem of hating having stuff sort of hanging over my head in an uncompleted state, haha. Therefore, if I DNF a book, I don’t plan to ever go back to it. This might not be actually true, but I just can’t deal with a list of books that I plan to get back to since I’m so obsessed with things being completed, hehe. I also am a bit overly tolerant and will speed read through a book instead of DNFing in the hope that the ending magically is awesome, sigh. Apparently authors don’t magically learn to write better right at the end of books though….

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      I’m the same way, like if I DNF a book, it’s done. It. IS. DONE. Can’t have bad books hanging over your head.

    • Nicole says:

      Haha, no they often don’t seem to figure out how to pull it together in the end even after a book’s worth of ramblings… But I can’t speed/skip through the middle of a book. I always feel like I’ll miss something! It’s true I don’t always DNF because I dislike or am bored of a book – sometimes I just lost the book (physically or metaphorically – I tend to read about 5 or 6 books at a time and it’s easy to lose track!). But I certainly don’t intend on getting back to everything I put in my DNF pile. Just the ones I didn’t intend to stop reading (last four) and maybe two from the other categories.

      The DNF list isn’t to remind me to get back to everything though! It’s sort of to show me which books I’m not that keen on…sort of to explain briefly why…sort of just for records’ sake…sort of to see my own preferences from an opposite view than just what I like…lots of other reasons that have nothing to do with coming back to anything! Usually when I DNF, it is down for the count. And if I DNF definitively, I can’t be bothered to skim read through it to the end; I’d rather just pick up something new! 🙂

  4. writersideup says:

    Years ago I would push myself through books because I used to feel like I HAD to complete what I’d started and didn’t want to feel like I’d wasted my time only reading a quarter or half a book. I’m now the opposite. If I can’t get into a book and it doesn’t improve enough to stick with it—I don’t! Life is too short and I barely have time to read. I want to enjoy it when I do 😀

    • Nicole says:

      Yeah, I’ve never rally been one to push through a book I didn’t care for (sometimes abandoning them too early!), but often the abandonment happened just because, since I tend to read many books at a time, after losing interest I’d forgotten about the books I was less into. Now I will tend to consider why I put something down and if it’s worth another chance. I had an experience not long ago where I HATED a short story I got halfway through and skimmed to the finish, but when I tried it again six months later and read it in its entirety I really appreciated it and saw what it was doing. That has definitely made me more consider that I might not be in the frame of mind for something one day, but that it might have the ability to impress me another day. I can’t be bothered to re-try everything I’ve ever put down, but some of them are definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” and I need to revisit! 😉

      • writersideup says:

        That’s very true! But with me, I’m getting to be an old lady with too much I want/need to accomplish, so my reading time doesn’t allow time to revisit really : / The fact that I’m rereading HP is a BIG thing for me. I adore these books and am very happy I’m rereading them (wonder if I’ll EVER do that with the several other series I own), but I also have others I haven’t touched, waiting for me! *sigh*

        • Nicole says:

          Oooh, I am really not much of a re-reader. At all. Make no mistake about that! Hahaha I can’t actually recall rereading anything that wasn’t children’s books/comics/short stories… I don’t seem to have the patience. And, I feel you, when the pile of other books you want to get to gets bigger and bigger, it’s easy to feel like you’re wasting your time with stories that are slower to start or not instant winners!
          However, I don’t feel like I’ve made much of an effort if I’ve only read the first few pages of something; it doesn’t really give the book a proper chance. I probably feel this especially because it took me until about 60 pages in to get into The Ocean at the End of the Lane and it turns out I really loved that story! So now I don’t want to shut myself down by banning myself from stories I might end up loving.
          Personally, I want reading to challenge my preconceptions as well as be entertaining because that’s what I find most enjoyable about it, but obviously everyone reads for different reasons. Sometimes it’s good to keep pushing, but sometimes it’s just not worth it! 🙂

  5. Cee says:

    I HATED As I Lay Dying when I read it in college, and I still do. It is boring and pretentious. I really don’t know why people are in love with this piece of work.

    • Nicole says:

      hahah, harsh. The audiobook performance was good, but I just…didn’t really care? I duno.. And I felt like if I were actually reading it in conventional book form (as opposed to listening to it), I’d have put it down even faster. I’m probably just going to watch the film.

  6. Lisa says:

    I wish I’d abandoned The Virgin Suicides. I read it all the way through, and my “meh” reaction never changed. 🙂 I have books that I just clearly didn’t like and walked away from. The ones that puzzle me about my own reading are the ones that I liked well enough but then put down one day and never went back to. I really enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera, but I still fee guilty about never finishing One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’m actually hoping my book group picks that one for an upcoming read so I’ll finally be forced to see it through! This is a great post — I really like how you’ve sorted all your DNFs!

    • Nicole says:

      Exactly: Virgin Suicides was pretty ‘meh’…I don’t think I’ll ever read the whole of it if I’m honest with myself. I just didn’t care enough and I think I’ve given it to a charity shop now so even when, at the end of last year I felt like I might almost give it another chance, that inkling was stamped out by the fact that I can’t imagine myself ever wanting to actually buy a new copy (I’d got that copy for free).
      I could actually try Love In The Time of Cholera again because I was just listening to my library’s audiobook version…but I’m not sure I will (I read ahead and I think it gets into controversial territory that would just make me annoyed #FEMINISM!! lol). But I do have One Hundred Years of Solitude on my library wishlist! (Also an audiobook) so I might try Màrquez again from a different angle…
      Haha, yeah It definitely is easier getting through the books you’re more neutral towards when you have some extra incentive!
      Thanks very much! I found it a little cathartic haha

  7. The name of the wind, oh yes *collapse* I’m currently reading it and daaaaaaaaaaamn, that’s slow.

    • Nicole says:

      Yeah. And apparently it gets weird and rapey at some point, which I can’t imagine because the bulk of it just seems like following around a bumbling fool.. neither of which I’m too excited about. I’m too aware of my lifespan to keep trying with it..

  8. moosha23 says:

    Hey some books just aren’t for some people! That’s why there’s so many out there (130 million in fact). 😀

    • Nicole says:

      Hah, yes of course. This isn’t a complaint about how not all books are perfect for me (that…is just not realistic in the slightest!! hahah)
      However, some of these books I think I just wasn’t in the frame of mind for at the time and would try again. Some of them I wanted to read for “social/cultural learnings” and I might be more willing to suffer through them for that. I don’t think it would be fair to myself to just ignore them, and just labelling them all as “not for me”.
      I always like this kind of information gathering, though. I think it’s interesting to catalogue why I gave up certain stories. It also probably helps form a fuller picture of my preferences than just looking at my favourites.

  9. Tara says:

    I’ve never thought about organizing them by category before! That is such a good idea. Though, I might not want to see what the reason is why I tend to give up on books! Most of mine are probably given up on because I get bored or because I need to read them in a time when I can concentrate better. Sometimes my brain just isn’t in it to read a more dense book. I hope you get the chance to revisit some of these in the future, and maybe find a favorite read in there!

    • Nicole says:

      Hahah, I’ve found it interesting for sure. Yeah, I’m totally feeling that feeling of not really being in the frame of mind for denser books and I am currently in the middle of quite a few dense ones. I might take a break from them for some lighter stuff for a little while, but that’s kind of how some things end up slipping off sometimes…
      I’m, of course, an advocate of making a list though! It might even make you remember a few you meant to come back to! 😉

  10. thebookheap says:

    awh, I really enjoyed a room of one’s own!

    I also abandoned Love in the time of cholera, however- about halfway, like you. I got bored! lol

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      I, too, abandon books when I am pretty darn sure they’re not worth finishing, I’ve got a whole set of reviews on them, and I have also abandoned Love In The Time of Cholera and Virgin Suicides, I just couldn’t.

    • Nicole says:

      I know someone else who did too and she was pretty adamant I should try it again and it is on my list to try again this year(!) mostly because, as a feminist, I’d feel bad if I didn’t read it even if just to have an opinion or just be aware of it. The main thing that put me off was that I wasn’t feeling(/expecting) the airy, rambly, fiction style of it. I think was expecting it to be a little less flowery in its language and a little more direct so I blame that abandonment on my misaligned expectations. I do plan to give it a good re-try, though!

      I tried LitToC twice and I’m not too fussed about picking it up again. Especially as I’ve looked at spoilery reviews that make me think it would just go from boring to annoying.

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