Friday, July 7, 2017

The Short Stack: June/In Praise of the DNF


In praise of the DNF

I have definitely said this before, but don't finish books that you don't like. I get digital arcs from Netgalley that I can read for free. But does that mean that I should finish them for the sake of the review? No. Not all books are created equal. Some books don't deserve the hours it takes to finish them.

DNF stands for Did Not Finish. And this past month, I DNF'd so many books and arcs that at some point, I turned in every unread book I had checked out from the library and reviewed at least 20 books as "DNF, not for me". Because feeling like I need to read absolutely everything is too much pressure. I was one of those students who never finished a classic in high school because assigned reading is terrible. And that's what my giant TBR (to be read) pile is starting to feel like- assigned reading.

So return some books. Sell some books. Delete things from your eReader. Stop buying books for a little while. No matter what it takes, sometimes you have to stop building your TBR before you end up on hoarders, quietly weeping about how eventually you will read everything (you won't).

And learn to love not finishing things. Free yourself of the pressure. Long live the DNF.

A few of the good things I did finish this month:

1. Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
This is another essay collection from the author of Men Explain Things to Me. Collections, be them fiction or nonfiction from the same author or many, can be very hit or miss. I wouldn't say that all of these are must reads, but the title essay about being asked about children will resonate with many women. The one that really appealed to me, though, was on silence. A person can choose to be quiet or they can be silenced. There is a huge difference between those two outcomes, which Solnit explains beautifully. Read some, skim some, but pick up this collection.

2. California Dreamin' by Penelope Bagieu
I didn't know very much about Cass Elliot before I read this, but I found it to be a very compelling introduction to her life. It starts before Cass was Mama Cass and ends right before her big break with the song California Dreamin'. One of the things I loved about this was how tenacious Cass Elliot was; she worked hard and pushed her way into the music business She also had some pretty standard problems for the industry, like a drug habit and being pushed to lose weight. I like that Bagieu didn't focus this story on either. Word of warning- you're going to have the song stuck in your head for a while.

3. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Julie Murphy is a must-read for me. I loved Dumplin' (which finally has its star and I think she's perfect and I'm including a trailer for another film that she is in), so I picked this one up without having any idea what it was about. Ramona is a teenager in Mississippi, living in a trailer in a town that sees its fair share of summertime tourists. She's also an out lesbian, which is totally fine with her dad and sister, though her mother still thinks it's a phase. The novel starts at the end of summer with her closeted not-quite-girlfriend heading home for her senior year. Thankfully, her old friend Freddie, who used to be a tourist, moves to her town for good. As they reignite their friendship, Ramona is confused by her feelings for him after so many years of thinking of herself as a lesbian.

Bonus Patti Cake$ trailer because this is our future Willowdean. Some cursing:

That's all for this month, but follow me on Goodreads for more book recs and to see what I'm reading!


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