This is a guest post from Anna Boisen. Anna is a violinist and lifelong book lover. A non-native Virginian currently attending graduate school in New York, her hobbies include thrifting, drawing, looking for her glasses, and wishing she was at the beach. She reads mostly sci-fi and fantasy but harbors a strong affection for Jane Austen novels, sequels, retellings, and other Jane-themed stories.
I love not finishing books. Getting comfortable with leaving a story halfway through was one of the best things I ever did—it saves me time, keeps me motivated to read, and since I get most of my books from the library I really have nothing to lose.
You know what else I love though? DNFY, aka Did Not Finish Yet. Sometimes I pick up a book, get part way through, and decide to lay it aside, but only for now. I’ll spend a few days looking wistfully at the cover, then take note of the page I’m on and haul it off to the library for someone else to enjoy until I’m ready for it. DNFYs encourage a strong sense of self-knowledge and optimism, a feeling that this book wasn’t a poor choice, maybe just a premature one. Here are my DNFYs from the past year.
The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu
I was blown away by The Three Body Problem, the first book in Liu’s sci-fi trilogy about aliens making contact through video game. I finally started the second installment early this month, only to realize about 30 pages in that I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of involved science fiction. I swapped it out for Aunt Dimity’s Death, a cozy mystery that had the advantages of being an easy read and satisfying my sudden craving for murder mysteries. I read so little of The Dark Forest that I’ll probably just restart it entirely when the time comes, but since I was thoroughly entertained by the first chapter (written from an ant’s perspective) that won’t be any kind of hardship.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
First of all, is there anyone else who misread this title as IQ84 the first time and now can’t ever get it right? Is there a club I can join? Does that club never meet because the members constantly misread the messages about meetings and nobody shows up? Let me know.
This book became a DNFY mostly because of the length. Although I loved the intersecting storylines, developing weirdness, and very-slightly-alternate universe, I was also feeling super restless and impatient. I’ll come back to you, book, because I want to know what happens but also because I want to try to figure it out myself over the course of the 600 pages I have left.
Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin
This was an surprise pick from the library, and I was expecting a fun and whimsical read. I guess it has been somewhat fun and whimsical, but also surreal and adventurous and not quite the tone that I was prepared for. I’m looking forward to rejoining the heroine as she searches the jungle for the nine mystical plants that she accidentally caused to be stolen from a laundromat in New York City…just not quite yet.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
Okay, you caught me. I’ve been sitting on this story for over a year now. “When does a DNFY become a DNF?” I hear you ask, and let me tell you, it’s when I darn well please, and right now it pleases me to eventually finish this book. What I’ve read so far has been moody and creepy and mysterious, and one day when there’s that particular mix of gloomy rain and budding vegetation and moderate-yet-uncomfortable temperature that only happens in mid-spring I will find a giant window to sit in and I will read. It’s bound to happen this year, because Gina Rodriguez is in the movie adaptation coming out in February which means I HAVE to see it (love you Gina, Jane the Virgin is fantastic) and I will inevitably want to compare the two.
Who else decides to leave books for the future sometimes? Tell me your DNFYs!