Skip to main content

Marking a book DNF

DNF is an acronym used in running to indicate when a runner Did Not Finish a race. When Ryan Hall pulled out of the Olympic Marathon, for example, his performance was referred to as a DNF.

Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches tweeted that about a DNF review, and it turns out it's a category on her site. I think the term works well for books, too, so I'm going to use it here.

The timing of her post was apt as I was considering marking a book that I thought I'd enjoy as a DNF. It's a summer beach read set mostly in Avalon, N.J., a town that I write about often. It's endorsed by a favorite author. But the writing is so flat, and the characters so bland, that I've wanted to chuck it across the room.

Usually I'll nix a bad book before the end of the first chapter, but I'm stopping here at page 87. Why so far in? Because I wanted to give it a chance. Local book! Good endorsement! It has to turn around soon, right?

No, not for me at least.

Sometimes bad books are worth reviewing. I gave a negative review to Curtis Sittenfeld's second book, The Man of My Dreams. I proceeded only because I knew a lot of people would be interested in reading it it given the strength of her first novel. Same with Julie Powell's follow up to Julie and Julia.

But this? It's not a high profile book or author, and it's just not worth my time to gnash my teeth over its faults, then gnash my teeth over writing a negative review. So I'm putting it in my donate pile.

Readers, how do you decide to mark a book DNF?


Popular posts from this blog

Book 5 of 52: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

I don't always try to match my reading to what I'm doing, but when I go to Florida, I try to pack at least one Florida weird book. There was no better novel to bring with me to read on a ferry from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park , than Carl Hiaasen's Stormy Weather . Hiaasen was writing about #floridaman before #floridaman was a thing (and when this - # - was the pound sign).  Stormy Weather is set in 1992 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which is still the most destructive hurricane to have ever hit Florida, and only one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. still at Category 5 strength. According to the Miami Herald , Hurricane Andrew destroyed 63,000 homes and damaged another 101,241. Such disasters bring out the best in humanity but also the worst. F raud flowed into South Florida in Andrew's wake . That's where  Stormy Weather comes in. From an advertising executive who yanks his new wife away from their Walt Disney World honeymoon to r

Book 11 of 52: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

In my travels, I've accumulated photos in what I call the "Plants Where They Shouldn't Be" series. They're of weeds, flowers and trees growing in places that look uncomfortable: poking out of lava that's OK to walk on but warm enough to generate steam, growing around a mile marker on the road, sprouting on the back of a parking sign - that kind of thing. On the cheesy side, they're reminders that we can flourish in the most unlikely circumstances. On a more realistic end, they show that humans are constantly battling back nature, and that someday we'll probably lose the fight. I thought about those photos when I read  book 8 of 52 Station Eleven  (and watched  the HBO Max adaptation ), which show a world without 99.99 percent of our current human population. The story focuses on people, of course, but set them in a world where the things humans have created - electricity, internet, buildings, bridges, roads - are being taken back by nature. A Jersey Sh

Welcome Back to Book a Week with Jen!

Hello hello! Yes, the rumors (that I started) are true. On New Year's Day, I fired up the old Book a Week with Jen blog, gave it a new domain, and I'm going to be writing about my reading habits once again. If you don't know me, my name is Jen A. Miller , and I'm a freelance writer and author. I've been freelancing now for 17 years, and in that time, have written hundreds of articles, three books ( two about the Jersey Shore and one about running ), and two ebooks ( both about freelance writing ). If you're not new around here, wow a lot has changed. I wrote a memoir , picked up a regular running column for the New York Times , and put that back down again. I ran a lot of marathons, and got into ultra marathoning, which lead me to run my first 24 hour race on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 2020/2021 . My first dog, Emily, died in 2017 . I sold my first home, lived out of my car for a year traveling the country , scooped up a scruffy cattle dog mix in Ida