Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Decided to DNF Too Quickly

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I have a confession to make.

I’m the sort of reader who makes quick judgements about books. If they don’t grab my attention in first chapter, there’s a high chance I won’t finish them at all. Sometimes I even decide for sure to DNF after a few pages if the story includes something that I really don’t like.

Sometimes this is a good thing. In other cases, I have made judgements about tales that I later enjoyed quite a bit when I decided to give them another chance.

1. The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

This was originally described to me as “Harry Potter for adults,” so I was surprised by how non-magical the beginning was. The first time I read it, I assumed the opening scenes were a good approximation of what the rest of the storyline was about.

It wasn’t until I began watching the TV show based on this book that I realized just how much the plot changed only a few scenes later. I’m so glad I gave this one another chance.

2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

It took me a few tries to get through this book due to all of the terrible things that happened to the Joad family. There were only so many setbacks and examples of injustice against poor people during the Great Depression I could take before I would give up again, although the ending made me very glad I kept trying to finish it.

3. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.

The thought of interviewing a creature as dangerous and unpredictable as a vampire blew my mind the first time I heard of it. It took me a couple of tries to get through the slower pace of the beginning of this story before it started to pay off.

4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

I’m pretty particular about the types of thrillers I read, and this one didn’t grab my attention the first time I attempted to read it. After hearing so many people rave about it, I eventually decided to keeping going at least a few chapters into it. Now I’m glad I made that decision. This was such a fun way to pass the time when I wanted something light.

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To be honest with you, I wasn’t a huge fan of this author’s previous books. There was something about The Host that interested me, but it took two tries before I finally finished it. I needed some extra time to adjust to the idea of two different consciousnesses inhabiting the same body, although it was worth it in the end.

6. Native Son by Richard Wright.

The reason why I had so much trouble finishing this tale is because I saw the ending coming from a mile away. I loved the writing and plot, but I also dreaded the thought of the main character, Bigger Thomas, meeting the fate I was pretty sure he was going to find by the final scene.

7. The World According to Garp by John Irving.

This tale began with a selfish, criminal decision the main character’s mother made. I was so disappointed in her for making it that it turned me off from finding out how it turned out for her and the child that resulted from that choice for a long time.

8. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.

There’s only so much pain I can handle in a story. This one had so much of it that I kept needing to step away from it for very long periods of time before starting again at the beginning. Eventually, it was nice to know how everything ended, though.

9. The Bridges of Madison Country by Robert James Waller.

Once again, this was a case of a character making such an awful mistake that I had trouble pushing through that scene to find out how things ended for her.

10. Under the Dome by Stephen King.

As I’ve mentioned in previous Top Ten Tuesday posts, I like Stephen King’s work in general. But this was one of his stories that I struggled to keep reading. It took me a while to finally finish it due to how sad I felt for the characters as they ran out of food and other supplies.



  1. Great list! I’m very similar with TV shows; I’m rubbish at watching TV and if a show doesn’t have me interested in the first 10 minutes I stop watching. I’ve heard very mixed things about The Magicians and I also remember not being able to get into The Host when I tried to read it – perhaps I’ll give it another try one day!

    • Yeah, I have about the same amount of attention span for TV shows, too. They really have to grab me early on if I’m going to continue watching them.

      Wasn’t The Host made into a movie? I have a vague recollection of that happening a few years ago.

  2. Oh, I remember almost abandoning The Host too. The first half was so tiresome to get through!

  3. Ohhh! I remember that I didn’t finish reading the Host! I just couldn’t connect with the plot.

  4. I love your list. I really enjoyed The Host and have been wondering whether or not to read The Magicians.

    • I’d recommend giving it a try, yes. The first few chapters weren’t bad writing by any means, they were just very different from the rest of it. If you go in expecting that to happen, I think it would make it much easier to transition from one style to the next.

  5. I think the worst thing that happened to The Magicians was it being packaged as HP for grown-ups, because nuh-uh. I’m glad I stuck it through after that initial shock of not being at all what I expected. 🙂

  6. I definitely agree about The Host. It’s worth it!

  7. Great list. Haven’t read The Host, didn’t like Angela’s Ashes in the end, but really enjoyed The Magicians and Under the Dome. At some point in my life I’ll have to tackle Anne Rice!

    • Thank you! I’d be curious to hear what you think of Anne Rice’s work if or when you ever try it.

  8. Nice list!
    Glad to hear you enjoyed The Magicians! I started watching the TV show (got to the start of season 2) before I kind of dropped off watching it, whoops. How does the book compare to the TV show?

    • Thank you.

      I enjoy the TV show version of The Magicians way more than I did the book. I’d honestly recommend it over the novel, and I almost never say that.

  9. I haven’t read anything from this list, but The Magicians and Under the Dome are two I really want to read.

    Our TTT:

  10. I rather liked The Host as well, despite the weird premise. Definitely should give The Magicians a try!

    • Glad to hear it.

      Based on what I’ve read about your preferences on your various blog posts, I think you might like The Magicians a lot.

  11. I have heard the same thing about The Magicians…although from a person who didn’t like the book at all. It’s one that I’m going to give a shot at some point, maybe.

    Have a great week.

  12. Under the Dome seems like a story I’d like. Can you believe I’ve never read Kings? The Magicians I’ve seen the show, but haven’t read the book yet…

    • I’m surprised you haven’t read Kings, yeah.

      If you liked The Magicians as a TV show, you might really like the books.

  13. I read Angela’s Ashes in high school and oh my god it was so depressing. Phew! I had to read it for a memoir class and all I remember is how sad it was. I actually DNFed The Host too! Thanks for stopping by my blog! 🙂

  14. Oh My God, these are actually pretty famous books by famous authors. 🙂 🙂
    I have The Host in my TBR since… I already forgot, but it’s been long but I read the author’s other books and didn’t like them so I’m hesitant to pick The Host.

    I did finish Under the Dome and liked it. 🙂 🙂 What’s your fave King’s book?

    • Heh, I did try to pick books that a lot of people have heard of.

      My favorite Stephen King book would have to be The Green Mile. It was such a great story, and not gory like a lot of his other stuff.

      How about you?

  15. The Magicians is one of the weirdest books because the first book was hard to get through, but there’s just something appealing that draws me to the series? I ended up really enjoying the trilogy, and I hope you do as well if you revisit it. I am not a Steinbeck fan, so The Grapes of Wrath was hard for me to get through (in all honesty, the only reason I did was because it was for school). I’ve still never read any Stephen King, but I really should!

    • You’ve convinced me to give The Magicians another try. I might wait until the TV series finishes, though, since I’ve heard that it takes a lot of plot twists from later on and introduces them in the first season of the show.

      Stephen King has written so many different types of books. I hope you’ll find something from him that you like. It’s not all horror (although his horror is great if you like that genre).

  16. I did read all the way to the end of The Magicians, mostly because I loved the show so much, but I have yet to continue the series. I had to read Native Son in high school, but I actually sort of liked it.

    • Did you read all of the books in The Magicians series? I’ve only read the first one.

      There were also plenty of positive aspects of Native Son for sure. I read it for fun back in high school, believe it or not.

  17. Lauren @ Always Me says

    I’ve only read book one of The Magicians but I definitely prefer the tv adaptation – Quentin is much less irritating in the show. 🙂

  18. You’re like me when it comes to DNFs. I usually decide very quickly as well. Stephan King’s books are all so different, you’re bound to come across ones that won’t work for you.

    • I’m glad there are at least two of us who operate that way. 🙂

      That is so very true. Stephen King writes such a wide variety of stuff for sure.

  19. I think I’ve probably DNF’ed several of John Irving’s books too quickly. I don’t know why I have such trouble getting into them but it seems to never fail. Maybe I should revisit them at some point.

  20. Oh my gosh THE HOST!!! I love that book, but sometimes I feel like the only one. Lol. I completely understand what you mean though, it’s an odd premise and hard to imagine two people in one body. But the ending of it was great and I LOVED Ian!

  21. I almost DNF a lot of books when they start out slow and dull. There are just a certain number of books that you have to push through the first slowness and they get SO GOOD. The hard part is not knowing if it’s going to get better.

    • Yes, exactly! You nailed the problem on the head there. It’s so much easier to push through a slow opening chapter if you know things are going to improve from there.

  22. I started Anne Rice’s book a while back but it was simply too slow for me at that time. Like, really TOO slow.. Maybe some day?
    As for Under the Dome – I own a copy but I haven’t read it yet. It’s a monster of a book though; so I’ve no clue when I’ll read it. :’)

    • Yeah, I have trouble getting into very long books sometimes as well. Hope you enjoy Under the Dome once you do pick it up.

  23. I had the same problem with both The Magicians and The Host! So I’m glad to see someone else had a similar thought process/issue with both. And I have to say that The Magicians has a solid fanbase but I still feel like both the book and the show are severely underrated in our community because once it kicked into place, and became what it is, it really worked in such a fantastic way. My friend kept encouraging me to pick it back up and I finally did after I watched the show and I’m glad it’s one of those books that got a second chance.

    • I completely agree with you there. It’s too bad more people don’t know about it. It’s such a complex and interesting universe.

  24. Maybe I should try The Magicians again, I feel like I might like it more now. Great and thoughtful list!

    • Aww, thank you.

      I hope you enjoy The Magicians if you give it another try. If nothing else, the TV show based on it is excellent.

  25. The Magicians is such a difficult to get into when you have the expectation of adult harry potter. That was such a bad marketing call to be honest. And let us be real, Quentin surely isn’t the easiest to like haha. I still need to give the second book another chance (I got a 100 pages in). I was never a Julia fan so yeah. But I did warm up to her through the tv show so maybe this time around I’ll enjoy it better.

    • Yes, absolutely. I wish no one had ever made that comparison. The Magicians works perfectly well on its own.

      Hope you enjoy the second book in that series.

  26. My dad has been recommending I read Angela’s Ashes for years and I have yet to give in. Just sounds horribly depressing. lol

  27. It’s been a very long time since I tried reading Interview With a Vampire, but I think I DNFed it, too!

  28. It sounds like it is a good thing you give books a second chance!

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