Have you heard about the concept of a “don’t do” list? Instead of a “to do” list, you create a list of things not to do. Then you focus on getting through the day and not doing those things. It’s supposed to help you break bad habits and focus on what’s really important.
This post is essentially a “don’t do” list. It’s the list of books I recommend you don’t read. Like, don’t even waste your time on them. And I didn’t “do” them either.
Not every book you start reading is a home run. Some of them are just awful. Sometimes even books that come highly recommended just aren’t good to you. And you know what? That’s OK! What’s not OK is forcing yourself to read a book you don’t enjoy. Life’s too short to read bad books. And there are way too many options out there to waste your time.
I read 125 books in 2021. I liked all of those books enough to at least try to finish them. But I dropped 29 books. They’re listed below.
Books I Dropped in 2021
1. Comfort Me with Apples
2. Where They Wait
3. Doctors and Friends
5. My Sweet Girl
6. Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language
7. The House of Ashes
8. The Witch Hunter
9. The Missing Hours
10. The Night She Disappeared
11. The Comfort Book
12. A Familiar Site
13. The Plot
14. Good Company
15. Your Voice in My Head
16. Good Neighbors
17. As Long As We Both Shall Live
19. Blue Ticket
20. The Grace Year
21. Eight Perfect Murders
22. Before She Disappeared
23. Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars.
24. The First Lie
25. Cold As Ice
26. The Third Wife
28. The Good Man
29. Forgiving What You Can’t Forget
Tips for Deciding to Drop a Book
I realize that I dropped more books than many people read last year. And I regret nothing. If I don’t like a book, and it’s clear I don’t, there’s no reason to waste my time. But how do you decide when or if to drop a book? There’s not a magical answer to that question. But here are some tips.
Some of you were taught to soldier through. Just get through the book because you started it. I probably was taught that too, but that’s garbage advice. Your high school English teacher may have forced you to read books for assignments, but they aren’t in charge of you anymore, and this isn’t for a grade. Anything you read for pleasure is a choice, not a requirement. Accepting that it’s OK to quit books is a big step.
It doesn’t matter if everyone else liked a book. You probably see books on the list above that you loved. Heck, Toni Morrison’s classic “Beloved” is on there! But I tried to listen to the audiobook. I was lost almost immediately. I dropped it. I can go back to it later in a different format if I want to. If not, OK. Be ruthless about the books you drop. If you don’t like it, get rid of it.
I’ve dropped books after reading fewer than five pages, and I’ve quit them when I’m more than halfway through. It doesn’t matter how little or how much time you’ve spent on a book. Move on if you don’t like it.
Be open to the idea of going back and reading books you previously dropped. Will you actually do it? Probably not. But you’re more likely to drop a book if you know you can go back and visit it if you want to.
Read for You
You know what you like and what you don’t. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, it’s time to move on. Don’t read a book because everyone else says to. Don’t read a book because you think it makes you look smart. Don’t read a book so you can count it toward your reading goal. You wouldn’t force yourself to sit through a boring television show. You’d change the channel. Flip the book!
I always sign off on these reading posts with “happy reading.” You aren’t going to be happy reading if you hate the book and are trying to force yourself through it. The 29 books on this list weren’t it for me. Maybe you like them. If so, great! Find something to read and love.
And as always, happy reading!