Posted in Books, Books I dislike

Top Ten Tuesday—Ten DNFs

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature of The Broke and the Bookish. A full list of instructions and future themes can be found here. This week’s theme is Top Ten Tuesday Freebie! Pick your own topic! I’m going with ten of my DNFs.

1. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I don’t even think I made it to page 100. It moved slow as molasses in January, and didn’t have scintillating writing or knockout characters to compensate. The slave vernacular was almost unreadable, Mrs. Stowe talks to her readers like we all share her religious persuasions, and the characters were such over the top, one-dimensional stereotypes.

2. Scarlett, by Alexandra Ripley. Absolutely terrible sequel to Gone with the Wind. It’s not that Ms. Ripley is a bad writer, but that she wasn’t the right person to continue Scarlett and Rhett’s story so many decades later. I quit reading while Scarlett was still in the South, and skipped ahead to read stuff here and there. Everyone acts so out of character, and the storylines are just ridiculous. I’m not even touching Rhett Butler’s People or The Wind Done Gone, and probably should stay away from Ruth’s Journey when it releases this fall.

3. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. I’ve loved Mr. Asimov since I discovered him in fifth grade, but I couldn’t finish this particular book. So damn dry and uninvolving. It’s just a bunch of talking heads discussing politics, and only one recurring character, Hari Seldon. Hari appears near the end of each Part to say, “If my calculations were correct, there was a 97.566555% chance that what just happened would happen.” Only Part IV, where the priests on Anacreon revolt, was fast-paced and lively. But hey, he was only 21 when this was written, and developed into a much better writer.

4. Das Kapital, by Karl Marx. Beyond dry. I made it up to page 80 the second time I attempted reading it.

5. Bright Young Things, by Anna Godbersen. I picked this up after reading a great review on an agent’s blog, but was quickly disappointed, after a great first few chapters. No real story arc took shape, the characters weren’t particularly likable or engaging, and I hate the trend of bopping around among each main character, one chapter at a time. God forbid a modern writer use third-person omniscient! The writing is also ridiculous, with pointless long descriptions of clothes, furniture, and food. The Victorians called, and they want their writing style back.

6. Ingénue, by Jillian Larkin. I enjoyed Vixen, even if it wasn’t exactly 5-star writing, but the follow-up failed to hook me in any way. It was just boring, not to mention awkwardly tries to play both YA and adult. These young women would’ve been considered adults by 1923 standards, at 18 and away from home, in very adult, mature situations. I also hated the bopping back and forth between POV characters.

7. Eyes of the Emperor, by Graham Salisbury. I made the mistake of picking this as my other book for the historical unit in my YA Lit class. It’s a sad day when a book set during WWII fails to be a page-turner I finish in a day or two. The chapters and scenes were ridiculously short, the book was way too short for a historical, and it really didn’t belong in first-person. It’s a shame, since there are relatively few WWII novels from a Japanese-American POV. Most of what’s out there is non-fiction.

8. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  I freaking HATED this book! Just thinking about the smug, gimmicky narrator with his constant parade of spoilers and obscene language passed off as cute, funny, charming terms of endearment makes me want to punch him in the face!

9. Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith. I also hated this book, and had particular loathing for Annie’s controlling, God complex, patronising OB. I wanted to strangle so many people in this book so many times—the controlling, chauvinistic, red flag-dripping Carl; the passive, self-hating Annie; their hateful, slut-shaming mothers; and of course Dr. Mason. “We want a small baby.” “Your breastmilk isn’t nutritious enough, but I’m giving you no evidence beyond my say-so.” “You have a small pelvis, based on the fact that you were forced flat on your back and very stressed when I first saw it.” “Put your feet in the stirrups. What a good girl! Slide down to the bottom of the table. That’s such a good girl!” I felt so violated when I read the pelvic exam scene! And then Annie made her forced enema in hospital into some creepy LOL moment and took on the language of her oppressor. “That’s the worst indignity of all!”

10. Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. This was the required sci-fi/fantasy book in my YA Lit class, but it was so boring and uninvolving. I read enough, then skimmed the rest and looked at reviews online. At least I give it credit for being a fairly original post-apocalyptic book.


I started reading at three (my first book was Grimm's Fairy Tales, the uncensored adult version), started writing at four, started writing book-length things at eleven, and have been a writer ever since. I predominantly write historical fiction family sagas/series. I primarily write about young people, since I was a young person myself when I became a serious writer and didn't know how to write about adults as main characters. I only write in a contemporary setting if the books naturally go into the modern era over the course of the decades-long stories being told over many books. I've always been drawn to books, films, music, fashions, et al, from bygone eras, and have never really been too much into modern things. If something or someone has appeal for all time, it'll still be there to be discovered after the initial to-do has died down. For example, my second-favorite writer enjoyed a huge burst of popularity in the Sixties and Seventies, but he wrote his books from 1904-43, and his books still resonate today, even after he's no longer such a fad. Quality lasts for all time.

6 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday—Ten DNFs

  1. I haven’t read any of these though I do have a copy of Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy that’s been waiting over 40 years for me to read it. I still plan to tackle this one day.

    I think there’s also a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin around here somewhere. Dialect can be tough to wade through. I had to help my wife read Huckleberry Finn since English is her second language and the dialect was pretty confusing for her.

    Wrote By Rote


  2. I think it’s a bad idea for anyone ever to try to take on the sequel to such a huge book as Gone with the Wind. There was no way that anyone was ever going to live up to the original, even if Shakespeare himself wrote it. Heck, I don’t think Margaret Mitchell could have done it without disappointing. It’s just too much to live up to.


  3. Hahaha yeah…I actually liked Scarlett and The Book Thief. I know people have major problems with Scarlett but I thought it was an interesting take on where the characters would go. I remember really liking the ending though. Also I really like TBT, I love how it’s different from anything I’ve read. I don’t have that reaction that most people seem to have. But I totally see where you’re coming from. Great list!


  4. I had to finish Uncle Tom’s Cabin for class, and wow it was a painful process! I didn’t HATE The Book Thief, but I definitely did not love it like other readers. It took me a very long time of back and forth reading to finish it. Interesting post!


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