Top Ten Tuesday: What Makes Me DNF

the broke and the bookish

Good morning!!! Jumping right in, today is Tuesday which means Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. The topic for today is Top Ten Book Turn-Offs, so something that happens when you’re reading a book that just irks you. So for me, this is a list of the things that make me DNF (did not finish) a book, because really book turn-offs will probably lead to me giving up on a book. And this seems particularly relevant to me at the moment, considering how lousy my reading was in September.

I probably won’t be able to come up with 10, because honestly anything can be enjoyable if it’s well-written. But there are some things that are almost always going to ruin a book for me.

1. Boredom – This is the #1 reason for me not finishing books. Maybe it’s that the characters aren’t interesting, or that there’s very little plot, or no action. But if I’m not hooked within the first 50 to 100 pages, chances are I’m not going to bother continuing to read. I used to feel bad about this, but now I don’t really. I don’t want to waste my time on something that’s not holding my interest.

-(I wanted to or did DNF the following: Joyland by Stephen King, The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper, The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, and a ton more…)

boring zombie

This dude gets it.

2. Cheating – I can’t stand cheating in books. It’s a good way to completely erase any fondness I had for the guilty character. And there are books that I’ve started before realizing that infidelity was going to be the main point of the story, and I just quit.

-(I can’t remember the title, but one was some Emily Giffin book. Never tried another one of hers after that.)

3. Whiny, overly emotional characters – I prefer my characters strong, funny, tough, maybe even mean. But if the main character is whiny and constantly going through some sort of dramatic inner turmoil – YAWN. I think this is one of the reasons I don’t connect with YA books very often. Teenagers are so full of angst and I just can’t put up with it. Been there, done that, thanks.

-(Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, and more that I’ve blocked out.)



4. Too much religion – I’ve definitely gone into books not knowing that there would be a lot of religious overtones and preaching. I can eye-roll for a while before it gets to be too much and I have to just walk away.

-(A good example is The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright, which amazingly I finished just so I could review it for how bad it was.)

5. Love triangles – Yet another turn-off that’s rampant in YA, which is extra frustrating because it’s so darn unrealistic. It’s always some “plain but beautiful in an unconventional way” girl who just happens to be the love interest of two different guys and somehow she just can’t choose until eventually she does… give me a break.

-(Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, The Hunger Games trilogy. I loved THG, but I hated the Katniss-Gale-Peeta romance. Ugh.)

6. Pretentious writing – Some authors just try too freaking hard to be witty, edgy, deep, or shocking and it always annoys me. I can only stomach so much hipster-ness and author vanity before I’m just out.

-(*waves to Jennifer Egan, John Green, Robert Goolrick, etc.*)

cougar town gif


7. Switching characters mid-book – This is actually something I’ve noticed only recently, but it bugs me when I’m pretty far into a book and all of the sudden the story switches to a completely new set of characters. I just invested all that time in connecting to the first set, and maybe even liked them, and now you’re just switching on me? Lame.

-(This happened with The Map of Time, and more recently with The Passage. It’s so frustrating. I MIGHT keep trying with The Passage since it’s for Katie’s book club, but the switch in characters really made me lose interest. And it’s so LONG.)

Do any of these things bug you guys? What makes you quit a book before finishing it?




  1. I love Jeffrey Eugenedis but STILL haven’t read The Marriage Plot … I’m scared to.

    Ha ha … pretentious writing. I find that there are a lot of authors out there who are always up for awards because of this. It’s like people think they’re trying to be smart but I totally disagree. You don’t have to sound like you’re a douche in your book.

    I’ve heard someone talk about the character switch in The Passage! I’ve also heard it’s a really, really good book … I’m so on the fence about it!


    1. I had to quit The Marriage Plot. The main character was really whiny and it started to get really boring.

      The Passage was really good up until the character switch, and then I just kind of stopped wanting to read it. I should probably keep at it, but I just haven’t motivated myself to.


  2. Sudden religion in books will definitely result in a DNF.
    Re #6 coincidentally I just read a book that ended in a stream of pretensions life musings and gobbledegook and just started laughing, and I am someone who likes John Green. A sample “But we had plenty of time for youthful indecision, both apart and together, for limping into the future past the ash heaps of out histories” coming from a 17 year old.


    1. I should’ve added “characters who don’t sound their age” to my list. I mean it works out well sometimes, but when teenagers do “wise” ramblings like that it’s just like, come on. No one thinks or talks like that.


  3. #6 made me laugh because as I read the first part I was all “that’s just because they are trying for hipster-esque writing (ahem, John Green)” and then you said it too! I felt validated. Ultimately, I think Robert Goolrick takes the cake.


  4. The time jump in The Passage definitely put me off the book for a while. I still liked it, I still read the sequel, I still intend to finish the series… but I never did get invested in the new characters — arguably the MAIN characters — the way I did with the opening 100 pages or whatever it was.


  5. preachy religion in books is tiresome. books that explore religion or use it as a lens to view life, I tend to like.

    but most of your pet peeves are mine, too. I’m with you on the Passage. by the time I started caring about that group of characters, BAM, bait and switch.


  6. Ah man, yes to overplayed love triangles. The Hunger Games was so awesome! Why add in that stinker of a plot line?

    The last thing that made me DNF a book was overuse of similes. Good eff, Sarah. Drove me bonkers.


    1. Oooo, overuse of similes, that would be annoying. I read a book not to long ago that kept repeating descriptions of the main character’s nails and her ex-boyfriend and it was really frustrating.


  7. The Emily Giffin book you’re thinking of was probably Something Borrowed. I enjoyed it at the time, but it was definitely about the main character having an affair with her best friend’s fiance.

    And I am also not a fan of pretentious writing or whiny characters. And this just shores up my general disinclination to read John Green.


  8. Yes, yes, and more yes! If you want to write a religious book just be up front about it. I really really hate being tricked into a preaching book. And, well. You know how I feel about Jennifer Egan. Uuuuugh. I finished The Passage this week. I ended up liking it a lot, but the whole time shift thing really threw me for a loop.


  9. I love that you gave examples of yours! I totally agree with pretentiousness, it drives me nuts…especially if it’s in dialogue – it’s just really unbelievable. I know what you mean about the switching in The Passage…it can be hard to follow. But I hope you stick with it, the secondary characters end up being really fascinating and it all comes together!


  10. Whiny characters, ugh, I will punch them (I looking at you Delirium trilogy). I’m actually horrible about giving up on books. The OCD tendancies in me make me finish pretty much anything I start.


  11. I always DNF on cheating. I also hate whiny, lovesick character. Blech. Like get some education and find a new man. Who gives a crap about this one who doesn’t care about you? That kind of stuff really bugs me. I also hate unethical stuff that is made to seem ethical. Not like stealing a car, but in a recent book I read, this woman has a painting that was taken from a family during WWI and the family wants it back and she refuses to give it back, and she’s kind of made to seem like she’s right. Ugh. Frustrating.


    1. Oooo, characters that are in the wrong, that’s a good one! I can’t remember ethical dilemmas like the one you described, but I know I’ve read books in which the character is arguing with someone and clearly in the wrong and just being whiny and dramatic and unreasonable. Ugh.


      1. Yeah, that’s where it’s bad: the character who is wrong and just whines and whines about it.

        I think it’s something I dislike in general: whining. Problem? Okay, go whine/cry/tantrum for like 10 min. Then let’s figure out a solution. But if you’re a whine/cry/tantrum forever type of person, I have zero patience.


  12. Whiny characters drive me nuts…like Holden Caufield. CANNOT STAND HIM! But otherwise, most things have to be extremely heavy handed and totally obvious before they get on my nerves. I can put up with a lot as long as the storyline interests me.


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