Book Lists

5 Books I’m Trying Again: Rescued From The DNF Pile

Over the years I’ve DNF’d quite a few books. I honestly don’t think that, as a reader, one should finish a book. I’ve put books aside and then picked them back up again, or else I just added them to my to-read pile again when I’ve forgotten all about what I had read. Other books I had actually read quite a bit of but, for some reason or another, didn’t finish them because I didn’t like the characters, or maybe the story wasn’t doing anything for me.


In some cases, though, I feel like I was reading the book at the wrong time. Maybe I had just picked it up because of the hype, or maybe I just wasn’t “old enough” to read it. Maybe I hadn’t read that genre a lot before and it was too different from my usual genres for me to continue reading. Surprisingly, I’ve only recorded 40 DNF’s by the end of 2017, which isn’t that many, but I think there might have been some that hadn’t been recorded at all. At any rate, I thought I’d share some of the books that I had previously DNF’d but plan to try reading again this year.

Here are 5 books that I rescued from the DNF pile and hope to read again in 2018:

419 by Will Ferguson
DNF’d in 2013

I remember reading maybe a third of this book before I put it down. I don’t have any notes as to why I put it down, but I remember reading this at a time where I was reading a lot of shorter books very quickly and this is a book that takes some time to consume. The story went from something very readable to something a little more narrative with a character in the desert (from what I remember) and it was those changes in the narration that threw me. I think that these days, when I can take my time in a book, I might actually enjoy this one. Plus it’s by a Canadian! I do have Will Ferguson’s latest book, so maybe I’ll pick this one up after reading that one.

Synopsis: A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide? On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims. Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help …” 419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever…

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
DNF’d in 2011

I really don’t think I got too far in this book before DNF-ing it. It started off really slow and I think I found it boring – despite the very high reviews it got – and I’m fairly certain it starts off with letters, which I didn’t quite enjoy. Again, I think it’s a case of not being old enough for the book – it was read at the beginning of the peak of my own book blogging (2011-2013) and at that time I wanted to read what everyone else was reading, so reading a book slowly just wasn’t something I wanted to do. Plus, I don’t think I read a lot of mystery/thriller books at that time, so this wasn’t really in any genre that I had been enjoying or wanted to try.

Synopsis: Eva never really wanted to be a mother – and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
DNF’d in 2012

This book was my very first NetGalley approved book and again (and you might notice a theme here) this was a slower read in the beginning. I feel like I didn’t want to give the necessary time to get into a book when the first sentences were boring me. However, this book has gotten really good ratings and it actually sounds quite beautiful! I think it was a case of cover love when I requested it but it was adult fiction, something I wasn’t overly into at the time.

Synopsis: As a child Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the great house where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to the tranquility of the estate. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation. When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed Wharton Park. Their search takes them back to the 1930s when a former heir to Wharton Park married his young society bride on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt on generations to come. Lucinda Riley skillfully sweeps her readers between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II with irresistible and atmospheric storytelling. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a romantic, poignant novel that became an instant bestseller in the UK and Germany.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
DNF’d in 2016

Now this one was actually started during a time where I was reading more adult fiction, so it’s interesting that I DNF’d it. I think my reasoning for it might have been that I was bored? I think the story went through a few perspectives and it took its time telling the story of what was actually to happen. The plot unravels slowly and you know that something happened but by the time I DNF’d it, I still didn’t know what exactly had happened. I think I might have read a spoiler at some point, but I can’t remember what that was, so I hope to read this one again soon. I did read Big Little Lies by Moriarty and enjoyed that one, so hopefully now that I know her style, I’ll like this one, too.

Synopsis: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone? In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
DNF’d in 2011

I definitely remember reading this book! I think it was my first time participating in the Dewey 24-Hour Read-a-Thon and I picked this one out since so many people loved it, thinking I would too, but for the life of me, I couldn’t stay awake while reading it! I do recall getting up at 3am for the read-a-thon so I was really tired that day, but man. Every single time I tried to get through the first part of this book I just couldn’t stay awake. Like I’ve mentioned before, this year was the year of getting into a lot of YA books and short, quick reads, and this book is NOT one of those books. I feel like this is a book I need to set aside a few really big chunks of time so I can actually read a lot in one sitting, but I’m hoping to love it since it is a “classic” and lots of people have loved it.

Synopsis: Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history. But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky. As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon.

What books have you given another chance after not finishing? Once a book is DNF’d does it stay DNF’d? Are there any books you’ve considered giving another chance? 


14 thoughts on “5 Books I’m Trying Again: Rescued From The DNF Pile”

  1. It took me a while to get into Cloud Atlas, but once I did I really enjoyed it! I wish I was better at DNF’ing things – I only do it about twice a year, and even then I usually give books second and even third chances. Especially if it’s a classic or something I know lots of people have really enjoyed.

    1. Cloud Atlas was horrible when I read it – or, at least I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. lol. I definitely think my tastes have changed and if I devote a good chunk of time to it, maybe I’ll finally get into it!

  2. I don’t DNF books very often, so am also not likely to pick them back up again. Classics are the most likely type of book I would try again after not making it through the first time.
    The only book I’ve read from your list is 419, which I liked a lot, but is not at all funny like his other books. Be warned!

      1. Everything I’ve read by him has been funny, except for 419. I hope you like Shoe on the Roof! I have that one in my pile, as well.

  3. I’ve gotten better at DNF’ing a book if I’m not enjoying it or getting into it. And when I quit a book I usually don’t ever give it another chance…at least it hasn’t happened yet!!
    I read “419” last year in my book club, and I’m not sure if I would have finished it if I hadn’t been reading it for that specific reason. It’s takes a bit of effort to get through.

    1. There are some books that I DNF but still can’t stop thinking about. I figure if months or years go by and I still feel like maybe I should’ve tried harder, I might as well try again. At least if I get it used or from the library it’s no skin off my back.

  4. I DNF’d Cloud Atlas, we ended up watching the movie partway through and once I knew the endings I just didn’t care to keep reading. 419 is on my “maybe” list so I’ll be curious if you like it better this time around.

    1. I didn’t even know that there was a movie for Cloud Atlas! I still haven’t found a used copy but once I do I’ll try and give it a go. I did find a gorgeous hardback of 419 at the used bookstore for $3 and hope to get to it sometime.

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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