Book Reviews DNF Books Smugglers Ponderings

Smuggler’s Ponderings: On Books I Do Not Finish

Being here and writing reviews almost every day, reading other blogs and other reviews often make me ponder about the act of reading itself, and how I approach books and eventually how I review them. It also makes me realise how much my life has changed and how it affects my reading and talking and pondering about these things is important – at least it is important to me, hence this post.

I don’t finish all the books I start. I used to, I used to fight my way through books till the bitter end but not any longer. This I think, reflects the changes that I have gone through as a reader since we started the blog and is a confluence of 1) being more aware of my tastes as a reader and 2) the availability of other books to replace the one I did not finish with. Both factors are undeniably connected with blogging about books.

The former because I deeply think about what I read on a daily basis and why I like or dislike a book and it is easier for me now to recognise when a book is not working for me and why to continue reading it is an exercise of futility; the latter is something more physical: I have a To Be Read mountain of books readily available for me to tap into. These are books that I both bought (and I buy a lot of books) and received for review from publishers or authors. Before starting the blog, my TBR was minimal, now it contains more than 300 books. Knowing that they are there, that there are loads of books waiting to be read makes it definitely easier for me to quit reading a book, so there is that to be taken into consideration. But that decision does not come lightly.

There are several reasons why I do not finish a book and they vary wildly: it could be because the writing is uninspiring or the characters don’t ring true. Or because the worldbuilding is not interesting or lacks inherent logic. I am not above pet peeves either, and sometimes even one little thing will make me put the book away for good. Sometimes I quit a book only after a few pages, sometimes it takes me way longer.

Above all though, the majority of books I do not finish these days are those that fall in that more middle range category of books: the ones that I hardly care about, one way or the other. Which means that sometimes I will finish a book even when I think it is REALLY bad or when it revolts me. Part of it comes from the fact that I want to be able to properly review them and I feel I can only do that if I finish reading them because I need all the ammunition that I can get.

In terms of examples, here are some recent books I could not finish and the reasons why:

The Dark Divine
EgmontUSA – December 2009

A Prodigal Son

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel’s returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

The Dark Divine is yet another (bad) example of paranormal romance that follows in the Twilight mania and it has basically the same format: (extra super) good girl falls for bad, dark, mysterious boy who has a Secret. Full of contrived, supposedly suspenseful plot elements (at one point the heroine is given the answers to the mystery in the format of letters but she kept putting off actually reading them) with a non-descript blank page heroine who will do anything for the boy regardless of how he treats (or mistreats her) and the writing was incredibly cheesy and formulaic. I read very far into the book (255 pages out of 375) because I hoped to review it but couldn’t muster the will to keep reading: I just didn’t care enough.

The Dervish House
Pyr (US) /Gollancz (UK) – July 2010

It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shockwaves from this random act of 21st century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square.

Welcome to the world of The Dervish House; the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. The year is 2027 and Turkey is about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its accession to the European Union; a Europe that now runs from the Arran Islands to Ararat. Population pushing one hundred million, Istanbul swollen to fifteen million; Turkey is the largest, most populous and most diverse nation in the EU, but also one of the poorest and most socially divided. It’s a boom economy, the sweatshop of Europe, the bazaar of central Asia, the key to the immense gas wealth of Russia and Central Asia.

Gas is power. But it’s power at a price, and that price is emissions permits. This is the age of carbon consciousness: every individual in the EU has a card stipulating individual carbon allowance that must be produced at every CO2 generating transaction. For those who can master the game, who can make the trades between gas price and carbon trading permits, who can play the power factions against each other, there are fortunes to be made. The old Byzantine politics are back. They never went away.

The ancient power struggled between Sunni and Shia threatens like a storm: Ankara has watched the Middle East emerge from twenty-five years of sectarian conflict. So far it has stayed aloof. A populist Prime Minister has called a referendum on EU membership. Tensions run high. The army watches, hand on holster. And a Galatasary Champions’ League football game against Arsenal stokes passions even higher.

The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core–the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself–that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama and a ticking clock of a thriller.

I was incredibly excited about The Dervish House because of the rave reviews it got and because it was about time for me to try one of this author’s books. I managed about 80 pages (out of 463) before putting it down. I love the premise of the book, I love the setting. Istanbul is a city that I visited and loved and I felt that the author captured its vivacity rather well. However. I found extremely difficult to suspend disbelief and get into the particulars of the scifi aspects of the book. It is merely 15 years into the future and nanotechnology is everywhere in everyday life. Not only that, but I also I felt that – from the few pages I read, and I am aware that things might have changed later on – the setting trumped characters who seemed to superficially exist to enhance and explore the former. It just didn’t seem the kind of book I would enjoy and thus I stopped reading it. I am keeping the book though and might give it a try again in the future.

Death Most Definite
Orbit – August 2010

Steven de Selby has a hangover. Bright lights, loud noise, and lots of exercise are the last thing he wants. But that’s exactly what he gets when someone starts shooting at him.

Steven is no stranger to death-Mr. D’s his boss after all-but when a dead girl saves him from sharing her fate, he finds himself on the wrong end of the barrel. His job is to guide the restless dead to the underworld but now his clients are his own colleagues, friends, and family.

Mr. D’s gone missing and with no one in charge, the dead start to rise, the living are hunted, and the whole city teeters on the brink of a regional apocalypse-unless Steven can shake his hangover, not fall for the dead girl, and find out what happened to his boss- that is, Death himself.

Trying to read Death Most Definite was a MOST frustrating experience. I absolutely loved the premise with “death” and “reaping” as a business with corporate offices and everything. I loved the set-up in which reapers in Australia are being killed and the main character is one of the few survivors and goes on the run. Whilst on the run he has to not only copy with the death of his family and friends and the pending deathapocalypse but being the only reaper around means that HE, as a reaper, is the only one to help these people to cross over to the afterlife; plus he falls in love with a ghost and he can never touch her or she will just cross over. Also: zombies. With a story like this how could this book go wrong?

First of all: insta-love. That is one of my pet peeves: when a character falls for the other instantly by merely looking at them and starts talking about love and how they “just know” . It is what happens here. Another pet peeve: endless description of what a character wears, how long it takes to get dressed, etc. It is so very distracting and it slows the pacing of a story.

But above all, when a character, who is ON THE RUN, whose entire family (parents, uncles, aunts, dog) JUST died basically in his arms, who may be the only person still alive capable of stopping CHAOS and the END of the WORLD, find himself musing about: how beautiful the girl is in the light of the morning; or how in the thick of it, he has to change clothes and starts musing how his jeans are a bit loose around the waist. When that happens, I say it is time a book and I part ways. I did try to stick around for this one and read nearly half of it but my feelings can be summed up thusly: if the main character of the book is not THAT worried about the pending apocalypse, why should I be?

So, there you have it. Some of the most recent books that for better or worse, I didn’t finish reading. I put them away and never gave them another moment’s thought (until I started thinking about this post, that is) .

What about you? Do YOU always finish the books you start? If you don’t, what makes you stop reading them? And if you have a blog, do you review them anyway?


  • I Heart Monster
    September 8, 2010 at 2:09 am

    I too do not get through all of the books I start. But, I have to say, The Dark Divine is on my list of best books for the year so far. After I finished it, I thought, “Mmmm, it’s okay,” but as I kept thinking about it, it became such an amazing book to me. Sorry you couldn’t get through that one!

  • Sam Sykes
    September 8, 2010 at 2:22 am

    The question of if you can actually review something with authority if you don’t finish it is a question that occasionally crops up amongst author circles. There are a few who suggest that people who don’t finish their books have no business commenting on them in the first place. I’m not sure I agree.

    I’m under no impressions that TOME is for everyone and I’ve seen more than a few people for whom it just wasn’t for who put it down (though I’m quite pleased so many have enjoyed it). I accept that as commentary enough.

    I do think it’s important to mention, though. A reviewer should certainly take it into account and make it known they didn’t finish it. That they didn’t is not an illegitimate commentary. But if they make a sweeping declaration about it without making it known that they didn’t finish it is a little dishonest.

    Personally, I put down a lot of books. Slowness and a lack of action, more than anything, will get me: descriptions of political systems, worldbuilding at the expense of character-building or a very long inner monologue about a character’s relationship with another character when one could simply SHOW such a thing are generally my big indicators that the book isn’t for me.

  • Ginny
    September 8, 2010 at 4:08 am

    For me a book has to be truely awful for me to give up on. I do, however, have a habit of pausing in the middle of a slow or dull book to read one i know i’ll love then finishing the first book later. I’ve put Stephen King’s The Atand on hold after 400 or so pages simple because it was so long & I’d got some other I’d been dying to read in the post. I also keep meaning to pick up The Court of the Air, but I’d I’m honest I don’t see it happening.
    I personly don’t like not finishing books & am also opiniatic about most book, believing that they’ll get better in the end, as I’ve read a few books that have had brilliant twists at the end or have picked up after about half way.
    I also have a large TBR pile (though not as many as your 300!) & Reading your blog just gives me more to add.
    I think for me money is also a factor, though a smallish one. I’ve spent my money on a book so I want to get the most out of it by finishing it. As a student I need to justify my spendings, lol.

  • Trin
    September 8, 2010 at 4:48 am

    The books I don’t finish reading usually fall into 3 categories:

    1. not so bad but veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery long-winded and I don’t manage to finish them because another, usually shorter book lures me away. My examples: Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson and Olympos by Dan Simmons.

    2. badly written, boring, weird …, and generally not appealing. Examples: Vellum by Hal Duncan (it just went so WTF after the first 100 or so pages), Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks and Madame Bovary by Flaubert (this one looks out of place, I know, but for a loooong time, it’s been the only book I simply could not finish reading). I only rarely pick those books up to try reading them again.

    3. books that I start reading, read the first 50 or 100 pages (or not even that much) and then decide that I’d rather be reading something else. Those include: Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar, Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals and many, many more. I usually give those another try – for example, when I’ve tried reading Deadhouse Gates for the second time, I actually loved it.

    I have to say that I used to finish everything I started reading (Madame Bovary being the only exception) but that was before I started buying my own books. My to-read pile is not even half as big as yours (your TBR pile is almost bigger than our whole library, actually … I AM SO ENVIOUS), but it’s still very hard to try and fight your way through a bad/boring book when you have other unread books on your shelves.
    I usually don’t review unread books, though; not because I’d think you can’t review a book you didn’t finish, but because reading only 50 pages usually doesn’t give me enough material to write about.

  • David H.
    September 8, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Because I was such a fast reader, I used to always finish the book I was reading, since hey, it wouldn’t take me too long anyway. I think up through undergrad/early grad school, I could count the number of books I hadn’t finished on one hand (and one of those was because I had to turn the book back into the library because of the due date–I just never went and got it back out again).

    However, that’s changed in the last few years since I’ve been keeping a list of books I want to read (about 4500 at latest check), tracking which library has it and who recommended it. So I’ve come to believe as you do above, that I have plenty of books to read, why waste it on something I’m not enjoying? I think another factor to why I won’t finish a book (at that time) that you didn’t mention was–sometimes you just have to be in the right mood for that book. I know sometimes I will “not finish” like 4 books in a row (barely getting beyond 10 pages) if I determine: “I just don’t feel like it.”

  • May
    September 8, 2010 at 5:27 am

    I read most of this post, but I real all of the one about Hush Hush and.. I don’t know, I almost feel guilty that I loved it…
    I saw the same flaws you did, I saw all the flaws people see in Twilight… But yet, I loved it.
    I did love Patch’s bad boy-ness, though. But yeah the story was ahm.. How to put it… Awful.
    (ans sorry, at 9 am, my “dot” (…) key goes insane lol)
    I saw all the cliches and, yeah, I said that the girl and that guy were “something wrong” but I didn’t really realize if Patch was or wasn’t trying to kill her until they cleared it out. And the end was pathetic. Much better if she died and was made his guardian angel as he became human. Now THAT’S a second book: he finding out things from a human POV and she as an angel.. How ’bout that? 😉
    And yet, I’m dyig for Crescendo. Guess I’m just a sucker lol

  • Ceilidh
    September 8, 2010 at 5:30 am

    If you need someone to write a review of the Dark Divine I will happily donate my services because I read that whole book and “Twilight fad inspired” doesn’t even begin to cover how dull and uninspired it was.

    I’m sort of a literary masochist in that I can’t leave a book unfinished no matter how bad it is. If it’s really bad I want to have finished it so I can give it the review it deserves.

    On another point about the book, did your copy have a really terrible font? Mine was this strange bold typeface that just made it even more annoying to read.

  • redhead
    September 8, 2010 at 5:34 am

    I couldn’t get into McDonald’s The Dervish house either. I remember slogging through Brasyl, the guy is great, his style just isn’t for me.

    I do similar things to Ginny and Trin – putting down a book that’s not grabbing me, picking up something else, and then later picking up the first book when I’m in the mood for it. It’s like that commercial – by the time the romance movie arrives, you’re in the mood for action. Sometimes I’m in the mood for Neal Stephenson (I can’t count how many times I’ve put his stuff down just to be picked up a few weeks later and intensly enjoyed), sometimes I’m in the mood for Sheri S Tepper, sometimes I’m in the mood for Terry Pratchett. To try to enjoy one when you’re really in the mood for something else is futile.

    That said, I’ve certainly taken buckets of unfinished books back to the library.

    Have I reviewed books I didn’t like? Yes.
    Have I reviewed books I didn’t finish? Very, very rarely. There have been cases where I skimmed some, read some, skimmed some, read the end.

    Why review a book I didn’t like, or had a tough time finishing? If I think it’s a book that others are hearing about, I want to throw my opinion out there.

  • Etta
    September 8, 2010 at 6:01 am

    I used to try to slog through books even if I wasn’t enjoying them, but with a to-read pile that’s in danger of crushing me, it’s getting harder for me to justify spending time with books I’m not enjoying when I have so many others I want to read.

    I’ve bailed on several books in the last few weeks. Sometimes, it’s because I just don’t like the book, and I never feel bad about that. Life is too short to slog through books I hate. With some books, I find that I’m just not in the right frame of mind for them. I bailed on a fantasy recently because I just wasn’t feeling talking animals and elaborate political machinations. It wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t working for me that week. With cases like this, there’s a good chance I’ll go back to the book and finish it later on.

  • Hann1bal
    September 8, 2010 at 6:17 am

    Nope. If I’m not really interested in a book, I’ll just stop reading it at some point. And it’s hard to tell until I start reading whether or not I’ll actually read all the way through. Though I may bend this rule with nonfiction.

  • Gerd D.
    September 8, 2010 at 6:24 am

    I’ve got a lot of books I never finished reading, for various reasons.
    Some I picked up against better knowledge simply for the pertaining praise they receive (or out of stupid youthful curiosity), like Pauline Réage’s famous book. I read about 50 pages of it before I through it in the trash (the only book ever I threw away while still in perfect condition, and never rued it). However, I learned that I don’t take well to reading about sexualised violence, especially rape fantasy.

    Another guilty book of mine is Tanith Lee’s “Heart-Beast” (an amazing cover), which I regularly pick up and put always down at the same point because her prose doesn’t catch me. The direct opposite is true for Susanna Clarke who I think writes in an amazing prose that reminded me just that bit of Tolkien, but unfortunately the story failed to capture me, which, me being neither much of a classic fantasy nor a historical fiction reader, isn’t saying that much.

    Characters/author opinions that go against my grain will often make me stop reading a book, especially misogynists, life is to short to waste it on them. But I also put down Tanya Huff’s “The Emporium Enchantment” for that reason, because even though I usually love her books, here the characters shallow obsession with sex against a vastly under developed story started quickly to annoy me, enough so that I lost interest in where she might have been headed with that work.

    I also have several unfinished books written by Stephen King because at some point he took a different turn as a writer than I did as a reader, I guess we just grew apart in our relationship as sometimes will happen in life.

    Now, while I personally don’t review books, I think it’s completely valid to write about books you didn’t finish, long as you make that clear before hand and deliver some explanation for what it was that made you put it down.

  • KarenS
    September 8, 2010 at 6:33 am

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing with us.

    I finished The Dark Divine even though I wasn’t enjoying it. I also finished Hush, Hush and Evermore even though I wasn’t enjoying the reading experience either. I think the only reason I finished them was because of the hype and great reviews surrounding them. I was sure I was missing something and assumed the last few chapters would make me see the light. There are only 5 books I haven’t finished this year and two of them I definitely plan to go back to because bloggers I really trust loved them.

    But with all of the books available to us today (I have 200 books on my TBR pile), it makes sense to stop reading a book if you aren’t enjoying it. I don’t think it’s fair to review that book or grade it on Amazon, but I do think posts like this are great. I’d like to know which books my favorite bloggers have tried to read and why they couldn’t get through them. Sometimes that helps as mush as a review.

  • KyleeJ
    September 8, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I always try to give a book at least 20% before I stop reading. If I can put a book down for hours without wondering what’s going on with the characters, I can stop reading it without feeling guilty. :mrgreen:

  • katiebabs
    September 8, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I’m big on DNFing a book. There are so many books and so little time. I’m not going to waste my precious time trying to finish a book that is so meh or what I consider to be awful.

  • KMont
    September 8, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Well, you already know I DNF books sometimes and also talk about in my blog. It is absolutely a valid thing to do, so long as (as others have stated) you’re up front about not finishing.

    As with anything, there’ll be all kinds of likes and dislikes on the matter. If you feel it’s something you’ve just got to get out, definitely talk about it. I have never understood the logic of, Well, if you don’t like it, just don’t read it, or don’t you even dare talk about it. If you’ve got nothing nice to say, say nothing at all – hello, rules of politeness.

    Somebody forgot to point out that it’s not about being polite or not being polite. It’s about constructive criticism, something that will always come up in the creative arts. Heck, in non-creative art fields as well. Authors have their critique groups sometimes, and I’m sure they expect and hope the feedback they’re getting is honest and constructively phrased. Reading and then reviewing is really no different, we just happen to give those opinions without the asking.

    You sound like you’re at pretty much at the same point as me in your reading life. I’ve talked as well about how I’ve changed as a reader, and that what’s happening in my life can change it, too. Yep, been there, am there and will be there again. In fact, I’m due for a Books I Say No to post. 😉

  • KMont
    September 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Actually, I take that back – reviewers sometimes are being asked for their opinions, if they get review requests. Plus, I know for a fact that at least one publisher that’s contacted me doesn’t have a problem with me talking about their books if they were a DNF. I’m sure they would rather it was the opposite, but hey, their books are still, at least, being talked about.

  • Marie
    September 8, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I usually try to slog to the end of a book, but I’ll admit that on rare occasions, I’ll start skimming to the end. For some reason, I just don’t like not finishing a book.

  • Lisa
    September 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I pretty much agree with everything you wrote about. I have similar reasons for not finishing books. The question is: do you review them if you DNF? Or at least make a post saying you DNF and why?

  • colleen
    September 8, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I’m torn. If I’ve received the copy for review, I will attempt to make it through to the end. But it doesn’t always happen.

    With books I buy, I have a hard time giving up. If I spent my hard-earned money, I feel like I’m more invested in the book. Plus in the back on my mind I have that “it’s got to get better” notion. Last month, I dragged myself through The Three Weissmanns of Westport when I should have just given up and moved on to something else.

    For library books, I have no problem setting them aside and moving on.

  • Ewa
    September 8, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I DNF three books this year. Two were actually bad, one I forgot about in the excitement of getting an Amazon delivery with more interesting things. I don’t like not finishing books but sometimes it’s necessary – for one’s sanity, if not because it’s more time-efficient.

    I buy all my books, so those three are really annoying. I talked about why I DNF the bad books on twitter and so on, because I don’t want other people who share my tastes to waste their time or money on something they won’t like.

    There was one book I’ve just finished that I almost put down; what kept me reading was one promising plot strand. I wasn’t let down, but it was a close thing. The problem I have is where do you stop? How long do you give it?

  • Richard Palmer
    September 8, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I like to try and finish books certainly, but I have got a small pile that I’ve started, and for whatever reason, not finished. Funnily enough, for 3 years poor old Ian McDonald suffered from that: I’d bought Brasyl because I’d read the same kind of positive spin that The Dervish House has been getting this year. I started it – and found that yes…he’s talented , skilled man, but I didn’t feel I had the time to devote to his wonderful writing. However, as he had the new book out this year (and I had more free time again!), I decided to catch up…and I’m glad I did. Point is, sometimes it’s good to put something good aside; don’t make reading it in to a chore.

    Mind you – I’ve got to admit, if I’ve bought the book anyway, if it’s bad, I like to try and finish it as quickly as possible…a masochistic desire to get my moneys worth, I suppose!

  • Carla
    September 8, 2010 at 11:44 am

    i love you. that is all.

  • Barb
    September 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I DNF many books. If I’m not getting into it, I start skimming to see if it gets interesting a few chapters later. Or may set it aside while reading something else – sometimes the story calls to me later, some I never pick it up again.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Tastes (and my mood) vary, even within a genre. I loved The Hunger Games, but didn’t finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; love Harry Potter, but hate Twilight.
    I was a bad book club member – I had more fun tearing apart the books I didn’t finish than the ones I enjoyed.

  • Lindsey
    September 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    This is an interesting one regarding finishing a book or not – I can’t think of a single book that I’ve not finished. That isn’t to say I’ve read it all – But no matter how terrible I find the writing, storyline, clichéd settings etc, I still have the urge to know what actually happens anyway. I turn into a skim reader, just to grab the facts and piece them back together. Whilst the books are not technically completely read, they’re not entirely unfinished either. The most recent example of this was ‘Kitty and the Midnight Hour’ – I was dubious with the title having the word ‘Kitty’ in it, but I got it in a swap and figured ‘what the hell’. Oops?

    I’ve got Trent Jamieson’s Death Most Definite sat on my TBR bookshelf at the moment. Maybe I’ve got another destined for the skim-read pile?

  • Lara
    September 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I usually finish the books I begin to read, but there are cases when I just can’t keep on reading. Sometimes it’s the language. I actually hate books that are written in present tense exapt for one. Then there are books that are just wrong somehow. It can be because of the story, the caracters or a feeling I have (for example Fallen Angels by J.R.Ward) … I’ve read a lot of “bad” books and even more that were just ordinary, but I’ve finished them. My real problem is, that often I brought a book and I can’t bring myself to begin reading it. Most of those books I even liked later (for example the books of Anne Bishop) ….that’s my problem … I wonder if I’m the only one who has it 😆

  • Louise
    September 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I used to force myself to finish books I started, but I’ve luckily stopped that habit. There are too many better books out there that I could be reading instead of forcing myself to read something I don’t enjoy. Doing too much of that in school has left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve also found that I end up hating a book if I force myself to finish it instead of just having a mild dislike or it if I stop when I begin to feel like the book’s not for me.

  • Suzie
    September 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I discard way more books than I finish, and I finish a lot. Completed about 200 so far this year. The way I see it, I have so many books stacked up from the library or whatever that I want to get to that I’m not gonna waste my time on something that doesn’t a) engage me almost immediately, b) has moronic character decisions and/or c) fails to keep me entertained.

  • danielle
    September 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I don’t see the point in reading a book your not commited to. It’s just a waste of everyone’s time. And I’m totally with you on the Death book.

  • alana
    September 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    There are few books that I actually give up on, but it definitely happens. Sometimes the reason I stop reading a book is vague though and it has more to do with me than the book. There are a few books that I’ve given up on only to love later on.

    Ridiculous love stories are pretty much the kiss of death for me though. Anytime a thousand-year-old god-like creature falls in love with a human teenager I get a bad case of massive eye-rolling syndrome.

  • Ashleigh
    September 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    It’s once in a blue moon that I have a DNF book. In the past year and a half, I’ve had only three:

    1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
    2) Evernight by Claudia Gray
    3) The Secret Circle books by LJ Smith

    I like to finish even my bad books because sometimes they turn awesome near the end, though these books are very rare. Also, I learn lessons from the bad points of these books, such as “don’t go for insta-love in a novel” and “make sure that a best friend actually acts like a best friend.”

  • twimom227
    September 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I haven’t had a “DNF” book, yet. But now that I’m getting more and more review books and requests, I may have to learn to “just say no.”

  • martin
    September 8, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    You know how movies do remakes of themselves? I was wondering if books ever do that. I think I’ve seen cases where a book will come with maybe some extra commentary and a new cover design, but wouldn’t it be nice if poorly written books with good plots (as in Death Most Definite) try to do it over again?

  • Stephanie K.
    September 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    My DNF books are the first Midnight Breed book by Lara Adrian and the first Weather Wardens book by Rachel Caine.

  • Laura
    September 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I used to read EVERYTHING.

    Now, I’ve got too much I want to read and way too little time. So, I’ve learned to set aside those books that just don’t catch my interest or are terribly written.

    I didn’t finish The Dark Divine book either.

  • Ladybug
    September 9, 2010 at 2:02 am

    I started giving up books last year I think it was. Before that I always tried to finish the books I started. Now I know that there are so many other books out there waiting to be read so why should I waste my time reading a book that is not for me.

    I tend to put the book away if I haven’t gotten into the story after about 80-100 pages.

  • Ana
    September 9, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Hey everybody!

    thanks for all the thoughtful comments.

    Some of you bring up that sometimes it is just might be a case of not being the right time/mood for reading the book – I actually thought about that after publishing the post and it is a good point. Although I am not really a moody reader, this is certainly what has made me keep The Dervish House, in this particular case it might just be the wrong time to read it. I will go back to it at a later date.

  • Dottie
    September 9, 2010 at 9:50 am

    You know, I always wanted to give the book a fair shake, and even if I thought there was something wrong, I always had hopes that the ending or the progression would change the way I felt. I never didn’t finish a book.

    But, since I started blogging, that has changed. I receive requests for reviews everyday and I only accept a small portion, which means my TBR stack went from about 10 to over 100. My Nook is pushed full. Stacks literally teeter around my house. With some much on my plate, it’s hard to finish a book doesn’t work for me. And not that all are bad books. Stephen King’s After the Sunset didn’t work for me, I’ve read all of his other books, loved them. I thought one of Dean Kootnz books was going to end up DNF, but just before I was ready to give up on it, it twisted and grabbed my interest. These are well established authors.

    But, if I don’t finish a book or finish a book that doesn’t work for me, I state that in the review and link to other sites where the work has been well received. I don’t give negative reviews, if the book is really bad, I offer the blurb and direct to the author’s page or a reviewer who enjoyed the book. It’s hard to decide what to do in a situation like that, but I think honesty works best. I simple say, it wasn’t my cup of tea, but ……. really enjoy this one.

    Thanks for the interesting post!

    Dottie 🙂

  • Mollie
    September 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I used to force my self to finsih a book. However, that would have additional ramifications because I have trouble reading more than one book at a time. So while avoiding that book that I didn’t like, I wouldn’t get anything else read.

    Not giving up on a book would often jump start a reading slump for me. Because I’d feel so guilty that I hadn’t finished this book, so I’d keep looking at it like “I HAVE to finish you.” Then I’d go catch up on my DVR. And do anything and everything but read.

    Until finally I was like screw it. It’s not working for me I have to move on. Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a big deal if I were able to read more than one book at a time, but I can’t/don’t so it was always a major issue for me.

    Now, I give it a chance, but if it’s not working I move on. Luckily, I don’t have too many of these DNF’s because I generally know the types of books I enjoy and seem to choose wisely, for the most part!

  • Jefe Del Diablo
    September 9, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    The only book so far that I just could not finish was Foucault’s Pendulum. I just couldn’t do it. I felt like I was reading a never ending Encyclopedia entry about the Knights Templar.

    Being obsessive as I am, I hate not finishing a book. But I’d rather read books I enjoy than waste my time plodding through something so tedious.

  • adrienne
    September 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    The Dark Devine’s cover was a better plot than the book but I did finish. I will trudge through a book even though I am not happy with it; I guess I want to see if it will get better. What kills a book for me is the charatures…if they are annoying thick and shallow, why should I care? Kim Haarison’s last two were like that for me and it mKes me sad since I love her stories.

  • SylviaSybil
    September 9, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I have forbidden myself to keep reading a book I do not like. Reading is supposed to be fun, and there’s absolutely no reason to torture myself when I have a large TBR pile or, worst to worst, a large collection of old favorites that could be reread. But I have to make it a rule because I am so stubborn that if I don’t give myself permission to stop I will slog through and take two weeks to read a book I should have finished in two days. The biggest clue for me is when I catch myself tidying up instead of reading. If I’m procrastinating on my leisure activity, there’s a problem.

  • Suzanne
    September 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I always try my very best to finish the books i start because sometimes the book and its story doesn’t start to grow on me until later. However, there are times when i have absolutely no interest in the book, or when i get frustrated by the main character, that i just have to stop reading or take a break from it. 🙂 There really are so many amazing books out there for us to read and discover, why make yourself read a book you don’t enjoy?

  • See Here: Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson (Orbit) –
    September 20, 2010 at 3:01 am

    […] If I’m being honest Anna from The Booksmugglers has put me off this one a bit after her post on books she’s not finished: […]

  • E. M. Edwards
    September 25, 2010 at 4:52 am

    I finish every book I start. I can’t recall failing to do so. Mind you, I’m not positing this as a virtue, simply a trait. Or a sign of madness. Either way, it has had its advantages and its costs.

    I’ve even finished Dan Brown, an *illustrated* special copy of his debut novel no less; think on that horror of horrors for a moment and weep. It was left at my workplace during a boring bit of employment and it literally made my teeth ache from having clenched them so tightly in the glare of its large-sized print.

    I’ve finished the first three Twilight novels while lying sick and feverish in a friend’s house in West Virginia; because they didn’t have any other fiction and I couldn’t leave the house for three days to find better fare.

    These weren’t just disappointing books, they were terrible. Poorly written, excruciatingly dull and wrong in so many ways as to make me lose what little faith I might have ever had in humanity. Why? Well, they were *books,* and I opened their first pages for better or for worse; and I closed the last ones of the same with something new added to my own, internal universe.

    But I don’t read simply for pleasure. Even bad books, horrible ones, bring me something useful. They’re tiny, papery minions who have returned to my tower from their explorations of the cosmos – both real and imagined. Some of them, should have been dropped down a dry well and had stones piled upon the lid. Most are a mendacious lot, promising much but delivering little. And only the rarest are a fair trade for my time and potential mental anguish, but sometimes you can’t be sure until the very last page is turned.

    Fortunately, I am as quick a reader as I am a greedy and an omnivorous one. Bad novels are the stream of effluent on which the great ones float like fairy-boats. Someday, perhaps, I’ll finally get a book that is utterly undigestible, a coprolite of literature if you will, and choke to death. Until then, I’ll go on reading, to the bitter end.


  • Book news, reviews, and musings 26 September 2010 | Read in a Single Sitting - Book reviews and new books
    September 25, 2010 at 7:02 am

    […] Ana at The Book Smugglers muses on how reviewing has changed the way she reads, and how she’s now more inclined to give up on bad books. […]

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Smugglers’ Stash and News
    March 6, 2011 at 7:16 am

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