It’s not easy for me to DNF (did not finish) a book. I never know how long I should read before I give up. Once I am well into the story I usually push through to the end. I have quite a few books piling up on my unread shelf so it’s not like I have a lack of things to read. I have tried setting a page limit, but I usually hit a good portion and then it’s back to boring in the next few pages or chapters. It’s tricky business navigating when to abandon a book. I am still working on it honestly. Recently I have DNF’ed a few books and I’m OK with it. Some of the books I have DNF’ed were just plain boring, some were not my style/genre/etc. Regardless of the reason here are a few of the books that I have DNF’ed:
Big Questions by Anders Nilsen
A haunting postmodern fable, Big Questions is the magnum opus of Anders Nilsen, one of the brightest and most talented young cartoonists working today. This beautiful minimalist story, collected here for the first time, is the culmination of ten years and more than six hundred pages of work that details the metaphysical quandaries of the occupants of an endless plain, existing somewhere between a dream and a Russian steppe. A downed plane is thought to be a bird and the unexploded bomb that came from it is mistaken for a giant egg by the group of birds whose lives the story follows. The indifferent, stranded pilot is of great interest to the birds—some doggedly seek his approval, while others do quite the opposite, leading to tensions in the group. Nilsen seamlessly moves from humor to heartbreak. His distinctive, detailed line work is paired with plentiful white space and large, often frameless panels, conveying an ineffable sense of vulnerability and openness. Big Questions has roots in classic fables—the birds and snakes have more to say than their human counterparts, and there are hints of the hero’s journey, but here the easy moral that closes most fables is left open and ambiguous. Rather than lending its world meaning, Nilsen’s parable lets the questions wander where they will. (Goodreads)
Kindar’s Cure by Michelle Hauck
Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.
No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.
Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.
With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people. (Goodreads)
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
Haunted is a novel made up of stories: twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you’ll ever encounter.
They are told by the people who have all answered an ad headlined ‘Artists Retreat: Abandon your life for three months’. They are led to believe that here they will leave behind all the distractions of ‘real life’ that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them. But ‘here’ turns out to be a cavernous and ornate old theater where they are utterly isolated from the outside world – and where heat and power and, most importantly, food are in increasingly short supply. And the more desperate the circumstances become, the more desperate the stories they tell – and the more devious their machinations to make themselves the hero of the inevitable play/movie/non-fiction blockbuster that will certainly be made from their plight. (Goodreads)
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened. (Goodreads)
The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman paints her highly personal worldview in an inimitable combination of image and text.
The Principles of Uncertainty is an irresistible invitation to experience life through the psyche of Maira Kalman, one of this country’s most beloved artists. The result is a book that is part personal narrative, part documentary, part travelogue, part chapbook, and all Kalman. Her brilliant, whimsical paintings, ideas, and images-which initially appear random-ultimately form an intricately interconnected worldview, an idiosyncratic inner monologue. Kalman contends with some existential questions-What is identity? What is happiness? Why do we fight wars? And then, of course, death, love, and candy (not necessarily in that order).
The tremendous success of Kalman’s 2005 illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style established her as an original, inspirational voice, and the quirky, hilarious, heartbreaking style of The Principles of Uncertainty reveals Maira Kalman for what she truly is: a national treasure. (Goodreads)
The Shore by Sara Taylor
Welcome to The Shore: a collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean. Where clumps of evergreens meet wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, storm-making and dark magic in the marshes. . .
Situated off the coast of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, the group of islands known as the Shore has been home to generations of fierce and resilient women. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it’s a place they’ve inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. From a half-Shawnee Indian’s bold choice to flee an abusive home only to find herself with a man who will one day try to kill her to a brave young girl’s determination to protect her younger sister as methamphetamine ravages their family, to a lesson in summoning storm clouds to help end a drought, these women struggle against domestic violence, savage wilderness, and the corrosive effects of poverty and addiction to secure a sense of well-being for themselves and for those they love.
Together their stories form a deeply affecting legacy of two barrier island families, illuminating 150 years of their many freedoms and constraints, heartbreaks, and pleasures. Conjuring a wisdom and beauty all its own,The Shore is a richly unique, stunning novel that will resonate with readers long after turning its final pages, establishing Sara Taylor as a promising new voice in fiction. (Goodreads)
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.
In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.” (Goodreads)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walden, or, Life in the Woods, is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amid woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. (Goodreads)
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride’s debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.
Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget. (Goodreads)
The Intimates: A Novel by Ralph Sassone
The Intimates is about Maize and Robbie, who meet in high school and hold fast to each other as they stumble through amorous adventures, first jobs, and complicated relationships with family members here and abroad. It is a powerful and compassionate debut novel that explores the romance of young friendship, the freighted bonds between parents and children, and the thrills and mesmerizing illusions of sex. The Intimates renders the wonders and disappointments of becoming an adult and the secrets we keep from others and ourselves as we struggle to locate our true character. With a story that is lovely, perceptive, funny, and vividly erotic, “Sassone has created a friendship so deep, so utterly believable, that you feel jealous of Maize and Robbie’s closeness–and of Sassone’s easy talent” (New York Press). (Goodreads)
Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying these books suck. I am saying they weren’t for me. I have heard many people rave about The Diviners. I know several people love Junot Diaz and Chuck Palahniuk. They just aren’t for me, or shall I say that particular book didn’t interest me. I am open to trying some of Palahniuk’s other books, but Diaz writes literary fiction and I have found that genre very difficult. Big Questions was a huge graphic novel I borrowed twice from my college library, and I just haven’t been interested in finishing it. Walden I do plan to get the Spark Notes for and try again. I used to have a lot of guilt for not finishing a book. I am reading much, much more than I have ever before in my life and for that reason I’m beginning to realize an occasional DNF isn’t so bad.