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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Throw Books Against the Wall (Or Just Quietly DNF Them)

Even though I can be a harsh critic when it comes to books, I always try to keep things positive around here, especially for Top Ten Tuesday. I considered going rogue instead of doing today's prompt—Top Ten Petty Reasons You've DNF'd a Book (or Reduced Its Rating)—but I'm not feeling very creative, so I'm going to stick with the assigned topic after all. I'm a fairly picky reader, so it shouldn't be too hard to come up with ten reasons I get bugged enough to put down a book. 

As always, this fun weekly meme is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Click on over to her site and give her some love, wontcha?

Top Ten Petty Reasons I'll DNF a Book (or Reduce Its Rating)

It's BORING! If a book has no plot or it's bogged down by too many extraneous details, excessive words, superfluous characters, etc., then I'm out. It doesn't have to be a glued-to-my-seat page turner, but there has to be enough tension, conflict, and action to hold my attention.

It has graphic content that I just don't want to read. Let's set aside the fact that I'm currently reading a book where every other word seems to start with an "f" and end with "ck"... I'm a fairly big prude, so I tend to shy away from books with strong language, excessive blood/gore, disturbing content, and "sexy" scenes.

The characters are unlikable/irritating/dull. I mean, I don't necessarily have to love the main character in the book I'm reading, but I have to like them enough to want to spend multiple hours with them! It's also best when I feel a connection to them, which makes me worry about them, root for them, and care about what's going to happen to them. When I don't give a fig about any of them? Yeah, Imma DNF that one real fast.

It's too confusing. If a plot is unnecessarily complicated or an author's prose is so dense that I have to read a paragraph three times to understand what they're trying to say, then...I'm done.

The author hasn't done their homework. I read a novel once where a character (let's call her Jane) goes to visit her rich sister (Jill) and needs to borrow her Tesla. Jill tosses Jane her car keys and Jane starts up the Tesla, reveling in the sound of its expensive engine purring. Um...There are several problems here. Not only are Teslas not driven with keys (I use an app, with a key card as a backup), but they don't have engines. There is no purring; in fact, they're almost silent. (Seriously, I've had to honk at people to warn them I'm there because they can't hear my car coming.) Getting "small" details like this wrong yanks me out of a story and makes me distrust the author. If they didn't bother to check something as simple as how to drive a Tesla, what else did they get wrong? I don't necessarily DNF for this because hey, everybody makes mistakes, but I definitely lower my ratings when authors/editors get things wrong that they could have easily researched.

Mood, man. Sometimes, I'm just not feeling a book for no fault of its own. If this is the case, I often go back to it when I'm feeling more inclined.

The audiobook narrator's voice grates on me. When this happens, I DNF the audiobook and read a paper or electronic version instead.

Poor writing. I'm all about clarity over creativity, so I don't need flowery, poetic, achingly beautiful word art. I do, however, want to be engaged by vibrant prose that's sculpted into paragraphs that pop, sentences that sing, and dialogue that dances. Or, at least, words that flow so smoothly that I get so fully immersed in a story that I forget I'm reading at all.

 Lousy/lazy copy editing. If there are major typos, grammatical errors, logic problems, continuity issues, etc., I get jerked out of the story. Self-published titles have been the most problematic for me in this, but I have found plenty of mistakes in books put out by the big guys, too. Unless they're major, I don't usually DNF for this reason, but I do take marks off my grades/ratings because it's annoying and takes away from my pleasure in reading the book.

Too cheesy/sappy/sentimental. I don't mind an inspirational, feel-good read—unless it's so saccharine or preachy or obviously motivational that it drives me mad. Subtlety works much better for me as a reader.

There you are, the top ten reasons I DNF a book or reduce its grade/rating. Do you relate to any of them? What makes you set a read aside? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. (Note: I really try to visit the blogs of everyone who participates in TTT and leave a thoughtful comment. Last week, I had to go out of town to check on my dad, who was recently diagnosed with dementia, so I didn't get to most of yours. I know you are all devastated. Ha ha. Seriously, though, I'll do better this week. Promise!)

Happy TTT!


  1. I relate to all of these and also find them irritating!

    Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.

    1. They seem to be very common gripes!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  2. I can relate to ALL of these! It appears that DNFers have a great deal in common! ~Carol @ ReadingLadies

    1. For sure. I hope authors/publishers are listening :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carol!

  3. Ooh the lack of research will get me too! It's always very obvious when characters from overseas "visit" Australia on holiday and the author has never been toAustralia or even done the most cursory amount of research about it. They always get distances wrong.

    1. Oh, interesting! Yeah, authors should probably at least visit a place before they write a book set there. It's very different to research a place with Google Maps vs. actually visiting and experiencing it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Bree!

  4. Stephen @ Reading Freely30 April, 2024 16:26

    More than a few times I've discovered that an Audible book's preview didn't deliver an accurate taste of how a narrator could be -- and I've switched to print/ebook versions twice in memory, the most recent being a baseball book ("The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told). I'm also with you on graphic content --- for some reason I can read science books about sex, but I don't want to run into it in fiction!

    1. Yeah, I've found that I'm really picky about audiobook narrators. Not too long ago, I had the weird experience of not liking a favorite narrator's work on a specific book. I'd LOVED her narration of a certain series, but her style didn't seem to work as well with a different kind of book. It surprised me.

      Same. I can handle certain things in non-fiction that I can't in fiction. The more factual language can be easier to digest, I guess??

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Stephen!

  5. I relate so much to all of these! I actively avoid a couple of audiobook narrators, and there have been times I'll forgo a book I really wanted to read because of these narrators. I'll read the print version instead, thankyouverymuch!

    1. Right? Some narrators' voices and/or styles just make me cringe. I always look for the ones I like and avoid the ones I don't.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Haze!

  6. All of the above!!! I had a recent big, big seller in which two words were used incorrectly! It could be the audio performer's fault--I listened to the audio, but come on! Quality control, people!

    1. That's what I don't get. How many people look at each book? How do so many mistakes get through? I don't know what the process is, but it seems like SOMEONE should be catching this stuff!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lisa!

  7. Confusing and too graphic are both big turn-offs for me. Great list!

    1. Same. I read for pleasure, so I don't want to spend time deciphering an author's meaning or reading things that disturb me or give me nightmares or gross me out.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lisa!

  8. I love your list and agree wholeheartedly. I especially agree with mood. Sometimes I'm not in the mood for a book. It could be the best book, but I'm just not there for it.

    1. I'm not the moodiest reader out there, but I have set aside many books because I'm just not in the mood for its genre or style or whatever. I set those aside and go back to them when I'm more in the mood for what they're offering.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

  9. This is great Susan. I love all your images especially the chimp!

    1. The chimp is my favorite too :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Joanne!

  10. I totally can relate to all of these. I guess depending on the execution or how well I'm enjoying the story, the little nuisances will just get a heavy eyeroll from me before I move on, but if it happens too much I definitely start skimming pages just to see how it all ends.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT!

    1. Definitely. I can handle a few irritants here and there, but if there are so many that I'm really not enjoying the story, then I'm done. I have too many other books to read to waste time on one I'm not enjoying, you know?

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Jessica!

  11. 100% agree to DNFing when a book gets too confusing. My attention span is NOT great, so it irks me so much when an author uses incredibly flowery words when it adds nothing to the story and just makes everything harder to understand. Long paragraphs, made-up words, technical terms... I'm already getting a headache just thinking about it. 😂 Thanks for sharing! <3

    aimee @ aimee can read

    1. Ha ha. Same. I just don't have the patience to wade through all that in order to get to the story.

      Thanks for popping in, Aimee!

  12. I relate with quite a few of your reasons to DNF especially the the one where authors don't do basic research, that is so annoying especially since we have so much info at our fingertips! and I've had narrators that bug me a lot too. I once listened to an audiobook where each narrator pronounced the characters' names differently!!

    1. Oh, wow, I can't imagine each narrator pronouncing the names differently. How irritating! I listened to a series of books, each of which had a different narrator, and it annoyed me when two different narrators pronounced a term the author had made up in two different ways. It's a minor thing, but it drove me CRAZY! LOL

      Thanks for stopping by, Veros!

  13. Yes, as regards the 'f' word. I don't mind occasionally but as soon as I realise the author is going to shove that down my throat all through the book, forget it, it's lazy writing in my opinion and I will dnf and have on multiple occasions.

    1. Agreed. It's not a word I ever use and people know not to use it around me. I can handle a little bit in books/movies, but constant use makes me batty. I agree, it's just lazy writing. There are plenty of other ways to convey how a character is feeling without "f" this and "f" that all the time.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cath!

  14. Yes to all of your reasons! I completely agree with all of these, but especially when books have irritating characters! Nothing makes me DNF faster.

    1. It's especially tough for me when the MC is annoying. I have to ask myself, "Do I really want to spend the next 4+ hours with this character?" If I don't, I put the book down and move on.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

  15. Yes to all of these!!!! Boring, unlikable characters...all of it!

    1. It seems like all of us readers are pretty much annoyed by the same things. Is it too much to ask for authors to just write perfect books that will satisfy us all?? LOL

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

  16. These are all good reasons. Whilst I struggle to DNF a book I can identify with your list!

    Have a great week!

    1. I used to have trouble not finishing a book, but these days, it's no problem at all! If I'm not feeling it after a few pages, I DNF that baby and don't look back. I've got too many books to read to waste time on ones I'm not enjoying.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Emily!

  17. hahah the memes :D Agree with everything

    1. It seems we readers have a lot in common when it comes to why we DNF a book!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Vero!

  18. Even I know a Tesla is quiet. I have definitely experienced that sort of error in books I have read. I think it bothers me more when it's something I really know or misinformation about where I live. Mood swings is a great point to raise. I have DNFed books and gone back later, and they were hits! I attributed it to my mood

    1. To be fair, the book came out when Teslas were newer and not as many people owned them. Still, though, the one thing I thought everyone knew about them is that they're electric cars that don't have motors. It seems like the author should have at least test driven one before writing about them!

      I'm sure these kinds of mistakes are super common in books, we just only notice them if they concern a subject or place we're familiar with.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  19. Nothing like your mood determining whether you can enjoy a book or not. I consider myself a moody reader which is at times a curse.

    1. I'm not SUPER moody when it comes to my reading, but I am a little bit. There are times when I just don't know what kind of book I want to read, so nothing feels quite right until suddenly, something does! It's very confusing. Glad I'm not the only one :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Alicia!

  20. I completely agree with every single one of these, but the two that really stuck out to me were the grammatical errors and annoying narrators. Katherine Center is one of my favorite authors, and I recently listened to her latest book, The Rom-Commers, on audiobook, but I had to stop halfway through because I couldn't take another second of the narrator. I used the digital version to finish the remainder of it.

  21. I should have included the last two on your list on mine, too! Those both have annoyed me in the past. I also totally agree with you about content in excess. Sometimes it works and fits fine in a story, and I'm not wanting anyone to "ban" all content like this from books, but I think using it too much not only lessons the "impact" of certain things but just feels convenient because the genre or culture "demands" or like it. Thanks a bunch for visiting my list on this week! Really enjoyed reading your list, and seeing a Pirates meme, too.

  22. Yes yes and yes! I fully agree. I just DNF'd a book that has fairly high ratings because I hated all the characters AND it was boring.

  23. I relate to so many of these, but the two that hit home the most for me are lazy/poor copyediting since I proofread, and the author not doing their research about basic things in the book. There was a book I read that was set in the early 1930s, and the author had the characters using Tupperware-like containers and using plastic bags for everything ... in Shanghai. I was floored, and every time it came up, it took me right out of the story since I knew that plastic wasn't in use in that way at the time. That book got rated low too.


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