Top 10 Books I Struggled With & Ultimately DNF’ed

top ten tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books I Struggled to Get Into But Ended Up Loving or Ten Books That Were A Chore To Get Through or Ten Books I’ve Most Recently Put Down (the theme is…books you had a hard time with…tweak it how ever you need)

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DNFing books has always been hard for me.  Even if I’m not enjoying a book, there’s this little nagging voice in my head that says ‘Give it a chance. It has to get better or else it never would have been published.’  Thankfully that little voice has gotten much quieter since I started blogging and quite frankly don’t have the time to waste on bad books.  If I’m just not into it, I’m getting much better about just cutting my losses and moving on to the next book.  Below are some books that even when that nagging voice to keep reading was at its loudest, I still was not able to get through and ended up DNFing.


Top 10 Books I Struggled With & Ultimately DNF’ed


1. AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman


I’ve always been hit or miss when it comes to Neil Gaiman.  I absolutely loved The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Stardust, but American Gods, even though it seems to be one of his most popular books, just wasn’t a good fit for me. I struggled with it for weeks and finally had to DNF it.  (Find out what it’s about…)


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2. THE NOTEBOOK by Nicholas Sparks


Those who have followed my blog for a while are probably chuckling at this one and wondering why I even tried to read it, based on my aversion to most things romantic.  Honestly, I don’t know why I tried to read it either.  I guess because so many other people I know were raving about it. I thought surely it would melt my romance-averse heart.  Nope!  (Find out what it’s about…)


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This is one I just recently DNF’ed and was really bummed that I didn’t enjoy it since so many of my fellow bloggers loved it so much.  The issue for me was that while I had complete sympathy for Flora and her situation, the constant repetition just got to be too much for me and I found myself skimming and skipping, looking for anything that wasn’t just a rehash of the basic memories she has of her life.  It just got to be tedious.  (Find out what it’s about…)


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4. GIRLS ON FIRE by Robin Wasserman


What I learned from trying to read this book is that I’m not a big fan of books that feature toxic friendships.  This also probably wasn’t a book I would have normally picked out but it was on so many anticipated reading lists that I got caught up in the hype.  This is also one of those books that made me start questioning who puts those buzz lists together anyway.  For the past couple of years, nearly every disappointing book I’ve read has appeared on one or more of those lists.  (Find out what it’s about…)


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5. RICH AND PRETTY by Rumaan Alam


Another hyped book that just wasn’t a good fit for me.  I picked this one up not just because of the buzz, but also because it’s a book about female friendships and because it’s set in New York City, which is one of my favorite cities and book settings.  Those two things just ended up not being enough this time.  It didn’t feel like there was much of a plot at all and I didn’t connect with the characters so I gave up on it.  (Find out what it’s about…)


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6. THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain


I usually love historical fiction and books that are set in Paris, but I just found this to be a very dry read.  I guess maybe I’m just not as big of a Hemingway fan as I thought I was.  (Find out what it’s about…)

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7. THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold


This is another one of those books that pretty much everyone I know seems to love, but I found it dull and boring.  I don’t even remember how far I got into it, but I disliked it enough that I gave it 1 star and I don’t do that often.  (Find out what it’s about…)


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8. GIRL IN SNOW by Danya Kukafka


I thought the premise of this book sounded so good, but when I actually sat down and started reading, I didn’t like the writing style at all. I felt like it was just dancing all around the subject at hand without really advancing the plot so I gave up about a third of the way through.  All I can even remember about the story is that a girl was found dead and one of the main characters whose point of view we’re given is a boy who used to stare at the girl through her bedroom window.   (Find out what it’s about…)


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The blurb for this book had kind of a Friends vibe for me, which was why I decided to pick it up. It sounded like a fun contemporary read about a group of friends post-college.  Unfortunately I just found it dull and didn’t really connect with any of the characters.  Others have rated it highly so maybe I gave up on it too soon, but it just didn’t seem like it was going to work for me.  (Find out what it’s about…)


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10. ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand

I hate DNFing classics because in my mind, there’s a reason they’re considered classics.  But at 1,168 pages filled with tiny print (at least the edition I was trying to read), it was just too much book.  This is one I could see myself trying again maybe in an e-format so that the print is larger and the book itself isn’t so cumbersome, but for now, DNF.  (Find out what it’s about…)

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Question:  What are some books you tried to struggle through but ultimately ended up DNFing?

34 replies
  1. Resh
    Resh says:

    I want to read AMerican Gods some day. I don’t know if I will be able to love it or find it difficult to read. Same with Ayn Rand. In case I don’t love the books, it is good to remember that it is not just me. 😛

  2. Angela
    Angela says:

    I haven’t read a Nicholas Sparks book in years, but yeah, I can understand DNFing one of those. I’m not a huge fan of romance novels, either!

  3. Julie @ Happily Ever Chapter
    Julie @ Happily Ever Chapter says:

    Ohhh I should have added The Lovely Bones to my list too. I completely forgot about that one! I hated it. Everyone else I know loved it. I’m the odd one out. haha. I actually really enjoyed The Notebook but I don’t really like any of Nicolas Sparks’ other books. I haven’t read any of the others on your list tho. Great list!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Hopefully you’ll have better luck with Girl in Snow than I did. I’ve read a few mixed reviews but then a few really good ones as well.

  4. Literary Feline
    Literary Feline says:

    These lists are always fun to read through. I am with you on The Paris Wife. I couldn’t get through that one. I did, however, enjoy several others you didn’t like: Lovely Bones, American Gods and The Notebook.

    I hope you have a great rest of the week, Suzanne!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I’m glad to know someone besides me couldn’t get through The Paris Wife. I remember trying to read it for a book club and I was the only one in the group who didn’t love it.

  5. Poinsettia
    Poinsettia says:

    I have a hard time not finishing books as well. It took me a very long time to get to the point where I’d put down a book I wasn’t enjoying, and it still isn’t something I do often. Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.

  6. Olivia
    Olivia says:

    I DNFed American Gods as well and I’m starting to think that maybe I should take Atlas Shrugged of my list! Thank you for sharing your list!

  7. ShootingStarsMag
    ShootingStarsMag says:

    To be honest, I think some classics are classics just because of the content in the time period it came out. It doesn’t mean it’s all great – or even written terribly well – but something about it made it unique for when it came out. A lot of classics could also use some serious editing. LOL

    I’ve only read The Lovely Bones that you have listed here and I really loved that one, but not all books are everyone’s cup of tea! I’ve definitely gotten better at DNFing!!


    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I’m glad it’s not just me who struggles with Gaiman. It seems like I either love or hate his books, very little in between. I have a couple more in my TBR pile to read so I’m curious to see where those fall on the love/hate spectrum.

  8. Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads
    Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads says:

    I used to be a big Nicholas Sparks fan, but I don’t think I’d love them as much nowadays and I can totally understand why you DNF’ed The Notebook. American Gods is on my TBR, but so are the other Neil Gaiman books, so I’d probably better start with The Ocean at the End of the Lane first 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I’m definitely curious to see what you think of Gaiman’s works. I seem to either love them or hate them. I have a couple more in my TBR pile so we’ll see where those fall on the love/hate spectrum.

  9. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I don’t really talk about the books I DNFed, but I do it quite a bit. I have no time for books I am not enjoying or are too much of a chore to read. (I am a pleasure reader). Flora was one of those books that was a little unsettling at first, but then I realized how genius it was putting us in Flora’s head. In the end, I had tears of joy in my eyes, because Flora was really a beautiful character, but I do understand why people DNFed this book.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I wish I DNFed more instead of wasting so much time giving books a chance when they clearly aren’t working for me. I am getting better about it though, slowly but surely.

  10. kimbacaffeinate
    kimbacaffeinate says:

    I stop reading N. Sparks and watch his films I read the Lovely Bones, and actually, have one or two of these in my tbr pile and on my wishlist. Thanks for your thoughts.

  11. Greg Hill
    Greg Hill says:

    I haven’t really seen a Gaiman book that I wanted to read yet. I know a lot of people like his stuff, but I don’t know- haven’t found the right one yet! Flora Banks I’ve been curious about, but not enough to pick it up yet… I’ve been having more trouble lately with books that are slow to get going.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      The Ocean at the End of the Lane is my favorite Gaiman so far. It drew me in quickly and kept me interested throughout. American Gods just weirded me out so quickly that I knew it wasn’t for me, lol.

  12. Cait @ Paper Fury
    Cait @ Paper Fury says:

    Ugh I hear you about Flora Banks. Like it was good in that I think it was really being true to what life would be like with a disability like that?? But I swear she probably said “I kissed Drake” like 93898 TIMES IT WAS SO FRUSTRATING. 😭 And I found the whole book rather unrealistic by the end anyway, so I don’t think you missed out on much. 😂 I hate DNF’ing but I wish I could do it! I waste so much time on crappy books. *sighs* I did DNF Wicked by Gregory Maguire though because it was so tedious and dull and political. 🙈🙊

  13. Bookworm
    Bookworm says:

    I have trouble with DNFs too, they make me feel like I didn’t try hard enough or something. I loved The Notebook, I’m a Nicholas Sparks fan 😊
    I remember The Lovely Bones being super depressing.
    I’m almost about to DNF Orange is the New Black, I started reading it in March and keep putting it down.
    Enjoy the rest of your week!

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