I love writing and I love reading, but sometimes, being a reader can be stressful. Sometimes, I get frustrated simply reading. Why? Well, since I have a journalism background and an English literature background, I have a high standard for the books I read. I don’t mean that in a proud sort of way. There are just some things that annoy me that make it hard for me to finish books, and believe me, I try to read every book I buy. Some of these I even started in 2019, pre-pandemic, but gave up after a year. In no particular order, the following are books I didn’t finish.
Still Me by JoJo Moyes – Contemporary Fiction
Still Me is the third book in the Me Before You series with quirky, cute main character Louisa Clark. If you are unfamiliar with Me Before You, it was a big hit about five or six years ago and became a movie in 2016. Featuring Emilia Clarke as Louisa and Sam Claflin as handsome, paraplegic Will Traynor, the movie had a stunning cast and really pulled at my heartstrings. I didn’t cry, but it’s definitely an emotional ride.
Author JoJo Moyes continued her story about Louisa with the second book, After You, which I didn’t enjoy as much as Me Before You but liked it enough to be excited for the third and final book in the series. I don’t want to reveal too much detail, but in After You, Moyes gave Louisa a bit more depth by putting her in different situations not centered around helping terminal patients. Moyes even gave Louisa a new love interest, which I was so excited about.
Still Me, however, was just not for me. In this book, Louisa accepts a job offer in New York working as an assistant for a very wealthy man and his beautiful, younger, immigrant wife. What made this book a no-go for me were all the cliches:
- older rich white man with a beautiful, foreign trophy wife
- lonely trophy wife
- bratty daughter who hates her stepmom
- prestigious Manhattan home
The list goes on. I stopped reading the book at about 130 pages when Louisa encounters a man who looks just like Will Traynor, her former love interest in Me Before You. What bothered me was that Louisa is already spoken for, with a loving boyfriend who adores her. There was also a scene where Louisa attends some sort of event with her boss’ wife at a country club. The room is filled with rich white women who are honoring the cleaning lady who is an older black woman who spent her entire life working for them. And what do they honor her with? A plaque. Maybe it’s because I’m a black woman, or maybe I was just already bored with the book, but from the books I’ve read Moyes rarely has people of color in her novels, and I hated that she chose to include one in this particular way. It just rubbed me the wrong way. So I donated the book, although I still have Me Before You on my bookshelf.
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis – Self-Help
I was not a fan of this book at all. I had bought it in the Christian section thinking it was some sort of book on self-esteem. It was really just a plug for the author to promote her business and bankroll her life.
I had never heard of Rachel Hollis before, but just reading the first few chapters made me realize she wasn’t someone I could relate to or want to take advice from. I also feel this book shouldn’t be characterized as a book for Christians. She briefly mentions God a few times, but nothing specific. Most of what I remember from this book was her talking about her blogger lifestyle business, how she got her husband to commit (through not-so delicate means), and how she attends parties with celebrities. The whole thing just seemed like an, “oh, look at me, I’m normal but wealthy and still the girl next door” type of vibe.
Also, after seeing her meltdown on social media a month or so ago in which she compares herself to Harriet Tubman, RBG, Oprah, and other history-making women, it seems my instincts about not taking advice from this book were correct.
The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin – Young Adult SciFi
I read the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer series in college and really enjoyed those books, so I was excited to read the books centered on Marah’s love interest, Noah Shaw’s perspective. Noah is a character that grew on me. I didn’t like him at first, but he turned out to be a very lovable character. He was made for Mara, and his character is similar to Four in the Divergent series except he’s much more cocky and rough around the edges. Four is very serious and Noah isn’t, but both characters are serious in their love for their women.
Maybe I didn’t finish this book because too many years had passed and I had forgotten much of what happened in the series. Or maybe it was simply not as enthralling as the original books from Mara Dyer’s point of view. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t finish this one.
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler – SciFi/Fantasy
This book was too out there for me. I bought it a few years ago. Normally, I don’t read much science fiction or fantasy novels, but I wanted to read more books by black authors, and Octavia E. Butler’s books were recommended to me. I honestly don’t remember much about this book other than that I thought it was weird.
The books overview says: Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex or design. He fears no one until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. She fears no one until she meets Doro. Together they weave a pattern of destiny (from Africa to the New World) unimaginable to mortals.
From that description, I simply thought this book was going to be a fantasy love story. But the relationship between Doro and Anyanwu is much more complicated than that. Once Anyanwu transformed herself into a dolphin (or maybe it was a whale?) and made love with one, I stopped reading.
I should probably mention Parable of the Sower, too. Another of Octavia Butler’s, I didn’t finish that one either.
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Classic Fiction
Maybe I will try to read this book again since it’s a classic, but I couldn’t get with this book.
Here is its overview: Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick’s harrowing demise. A profound study of the romantic concept of character, Tender Is the Night is lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative.
From the 100 pages I read, that description is more exciting than the book. I’ve also read a few reviews of this book on Goodreads, and its reception is definitely mixed. Some people thought it was a masterpiece. Others thought it was terrible. I went through a phase where all I read was classic fiction. Maybe I’ve finally reached my limit.
There you have it, my DNF list. I thought for sure I had more books on this list. In my head, I think that don’t finish a lot of books, but in reality, I do read most of them! From this list, you can gather that I read a lot of different genres. Honestly, it comes in waves. Sometimes I’ll really be into romance, and then get over that and move onto thrillers. Does anyone else read in a similar way? I also read multiple books at a time just because I get bored easily. This makes me read books at a slower pace but gives me more variety.
I really appreciate you joining me today. Have you read any of these books? Are they worth an attempt to read again? Let me know your thoughts!