I used to be the kind of person who always finished a book, regardless of my feelings towards the story or prose. If you look back at my bookish past, you'll find far too many books I hate-read, all because I'm a
freak completionist at heart. It's the same reason why I still have not finished playing Breath of the Wild - a game that was released in 2017 - all because I will never be satisfied until I find every single Korok seed, of which there are nearly 1000. Yes, I know that's ridiculous. No, I will not be taking comments.
I used to be the kind of person who always finished a book...and then I discovered the concept of DNF.
For those who aren't well-versed in the lingo that exists in the book reviewing and reading community, DNF is an initialism for Did Not Finish. There are any number of reasons to quit reading a book, anything from needing to return a book by the due date to disliking the writing style to discovering too many holes within the plot. Every now and then I hear the siren song of "finish meeeee" even when I actively despise the book I'm reading, but for the most part I've moved into a new stage of my life where I gleefully and willfully abandon stories in favor of another, sometimes for petty reasons like she wears vintage clothes and won't shut up about it.
The simple fact of life is this: My time here is limited. I don't have to finish every book. I can't hug every cat.
Here is another simple fact of life: I am often wrong and my opinions are garbage. Anyways, here's some books I didn't like.
I'm obsessed with the Scream movies, obsessed. I am the annoying character that's like "okay here's the rules, here's who could be the killer, who's going to die first, let me extemporize for ages, everyone pay attention to me, I'm a LEO." With that in mind, you'd think I'd love this book, right? WRONG. There's something about Stephen Graham Jones's meta writing style that makes my brain switch to channel that's all white noise. Read this book if you like self-aware, scrappy characters and slasher films.
This book is too clever and high concept for my puny little brain. What I thought was going to be a fairly basic thriller about mental health and identity was instead an entire world and magic system that the author invented, all for the sake of metaphor. Have you ever started reading a book and you're like "oh no, I'm too much of a thembo for this"? That was my experience. Read this book if you like unreliable narrators, commentary with teeth, and solving puzzles.
Once again, I must confess I have a smooth brain, much like a tiny marble, and I Cannot Understand The Appeal Of Poetry. I thought that, maybe, this one that unpacks pop culture and Black womanhood would be the poetry collection that finally made me like poetry, but alas. I am a peon. Read this book if you are not uncultured swine, if you want to continue your work with anti-racism, or if you love anything that even vaguely relates to Queen Bey.
Reading this book is like holding hands with someone from the Golden Age of Hollywood, skipping through their elaborately and eccentrically decorated mansion while they tell you all the gossip-y, juicy details about which co-stars they boinked. The author has developed an entire world of rich and famous people I kept wanting to Google, because the name-dropping is real with this one. This book is gorgeously written, and for some reason I just couldn't finish it. Read this if you're here for vibes.
Akwaeke Emezi is an author I regularly recommend because their story concepts are wild and they've written a truly impressive number of books, considering they were first published in 2018. This novel is an unconventional love story with breath-taking prose, but once again, something about the author's writing style that turns my brain to mush. Did you watch that one video of Pedro Pascal where he made eye contact with the camera and was like "I'm your daddy"? Read this book.
-Adam Lopez is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.