Tag: personal

"It's not you - it's me - The Dreaded DNF"

The 7 Kinds of Books You Didn’t Finish

There’s been some hot debate over whether or not it’s a mortal sin to put down a book before you’re finished reading it: The Atlantic commands its audience to finish the damn thing or risk missing an excellent ending; conversely, The Guardian talks up the simple joy of dropping a boring read, akin to the instant high of cancelling plans.

Personally, I am firmly in camp DNF (Did Not Finish). Is this because I have many unfinished books, tragically abandoned on nightstands and bathroom radiators and don’t want to be called out? Okay, maybe. Or is it, perhaps, because I prefer not to waste my time if it seems the author may start comparing a woman’s ass to the rump of a mountain sheep? Though I admit it’s often the latter, here are the seven types of books you never manage to get through.




My currently-reading VS book with better cover art


So you’ve brought a new, more attractive book into bed. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but that didn’t stop you from abandoning your-tried-and-true for a flashier release. And to think, you’d only known each other for the five minutes you spent casually perusing the bookstore. You weren’t really looking for anything, but hey—sometimes, attraction just happens. Now you’ve relegated your Goodreads currently-reading to the nightstand. Soon, it’ll be separate bedrooms.

2. The recommendation


"Friends: people who borrow my books and set wet glasses on them."


Maybe when you say, ‘cool, I’ll check it out,’ you’re just being polite. But how polite is it really when your friend takes you up on your indirect offer… and actually lends you the book? Maybe if you tell your friend you liked it, they’ll leave you alone. But chances are what they’ll actually do is ask you a stream of questions that you won’t be able to answer. You can’t give it back until you’ve read it—but since you aren’t going to read it, you can never give it back. This is one reason why you might DNF a book, but, as a bonus, it’s also a reason why you might be a bad person.



3. The dinner party icebreaker


Well worn copy of Infinite Jest laden with post-its


If an elitist has read Infinite Jest and never mentions it… did he even read it at all? The answer is probably no—tbh, even if he does mention it. To be fair, it’s not always a matter of pretentiousness; sometimes we purchase books we know we SHOULD read even if we aren’t all that interested in reading them. But hey, why read a book you’re uninterested in just to drop references at your dinner party? It’s possible your guests won’t get the reference, either.




Leo Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' sitting on a scale


I like big books and I cannot lie… about finishing these clunkers every single time. (Note: ‘clunker’ is really not the most appropriate adjective to describe War and Peace. That doesn’t make it less accurate.) This brand of DNFing is frequently a case of right book, wrong time: when you get extremely busy, it’s easy to leave off and forget your place. If the book is 700 pages long, it may be a hell of a lot harder to find it again.




"Her breasts joggled"


Next time I go to buy underwear, I’ll be sure to ask the salesperson how to stop my pointed breasts from joggling so tautly. Many male writers are also experts on things like periods (three days long) and voluptuous asscheeks (spinning like pinwheels at the slightest provocation). Experts advise to write what you know… in which case, I’ll have to recommend some authors stop writing about women’s bodies.


6. THE Library Book

Arthur displays his library card.


The children’s TV show Arthur was telling the truth: “having fun isn’t hard—when you’ve got a library card.” But it’s just as easy to neglect your rental until just a few days before the return date… of your third renewal. You might think that this time, you’ll put down a book you currently own in favor of a book you’ll have to give back. But you know what they call a mistake you make twice: a choice.


7. Whatever the hell this is


Bigfoot's real, and he has a huge cock.


Featured Image Via Confessions of a Book Addict.


Why Characters Are Better Than Real People

I have like five or six good friends. I think that’s fine. I’m all right, comfortable even, with that number. If you’re trying to tell me you have over a dozen good friends—and I mean good—you probably, just, I don’t know. You’re probably lying. Good friends, I’m talking. And you’re saying you have twelve of them? No.


Good friends are, in any case, hard to come by. Many people are selfish. They get in their own head and it’s sometimes hard to find their way out. The bad news is these people don’t make great friends. The good news is they can create great friends via writing books.


Authors have to be fairly self-obsessed if they’re willing to craft a 50,000+ word tome that is essentially a transcribed internal monologue. Imagine the arrogance it takes to write a book. While an author may be a jerk, a character they create may be a true gem.


Take Roald Dahl, for example. His first wife called him “Roald the Rotten,” and he was let go by his publisher for hilarious reasons pertaining to his bad behavior. The letter his publisher sent him notifying him of his dismissal is…pretty funny. Robert Gottlieb, an executive at Alfred A. Knopf at the time, wrote to Dahl, saying, “For a while I put your behavior down to the physical pain you were in and so managed to excuse it. Now I’ve come to believe that you’re just enjoying a prolonged tantrum and are bullying us.” Get all the details and the full letter here.


Roald Dahl

You can’t see what he’s doing with his hands. He’s strangling a kitten. | Image Via Penguin Books


The point is that Dahl might have been a jerk, but he also created Matilda. Who doesn’t want to split a delicious chocolate cake with Matilda? Or Charlie Bucket. Or the BFG. He might not have had the capacity to treat his fellow human beings with a modicum of common decency, but he was able to recognize and craft kind and compassionate people in his books.


Right, but that’s not the only reason characters are better than people. People are complicated. Characters are less complicated. A person might wake up in a crap mood just because, and then intentionally cut in front of someone when getting on the subway so they can get to the one open seat. A character probably won’t do that because that would be deemed inconsistent or sloppy.


If a character is mean, then that character is probably the bad guy. You know that character will behave that way because that is their temperament. Real mean people, though, can inexplicably have good days. The same person who called you a dumb loser that one November night last year, standing outside of the bar, might later say, “You’re not so bad.” No. I’m not so bad. You are bad. You were bad when you called me a dumb loser. Why are you being nice to me now? Things are not so simple.


I prefer book characters, with whom what you see is exactly what you get. I want to get a beer with Ignatius J. Reilly. I want to go sailing with Edmond Dantes. I want to walk through the garden with the tenant of Wildfell Hall. Remus Lupin, Samwise Gamgee, Nao Yasutani, Qfwfq. THESE ARE MY TRUE FRIENDS.


Sorry, Steve.




Feature Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash


Bookstr Recommends: What the Bookstr Staff Are Reading Right Now!

It’s always good to get reading recommendations, and who better to get them from than the intelligent and attractive Bookstr staff with their notoriously good taste?


Mercedez Pulse – Editorial



Image Via Amazon


I recently finished reading Problems by Jade Sharma and I highly recommend it! It’s a fairly quick read that takes complicated topics, such as drug addiction, the effects of addiction on relationships and identity and discusses them in a way in which all audiences can understand and identify with. 


The narrator, Maya, is a young addict whose dependence on heroin wreaks havoc on her personal and professional life. Maya is deeply flawed, constantly ignores the emotions and needs of others, and is inherently selfish. And yet I absolutely love her character. 


Narrators with drug addictions are not exactly uncommon, and Maya’s story isn’t the most original idea an author has concocted. But what makes this story stand out from the rest of its kind is the obscure way in which Maya is completely relatable. Maya is cynical, sarcastic (really freaking sarcastic) and isn’t exactly a people person. For people like myself, she is not only easy to relate to, but is entertaining to follow. I can’t begin to tell you how many stories I’ve read in which the protagonist is either incredibly self-pitying or obnoxiously jovial. Despite her flaws, her ability to call bullshit on the world around her is so refreshing and makes it worth investing your time in the story. Publishers Weekly gave it this review:


Sharma’s debut novel is an uncompromising and unforgettable depiction of the corrosive loop of addiction. . . . there is a propulsive energy in Maya’s story, guided by her askew yet precise perspective . . . in Maya’s voice, Sharma has crafted a momentous force that never flags and feels painfully honest.


Chris Eder Editor



Image Via Amazon


I’m reading Else Roesdahl’s The Vikings, which is awesome. It’s basically a textbook of Viking facts. Learning about medieval Scandinavians may sound painfully boring, but it’s not. For example, did you know Vikings had fine-toothed combs? They were very into grooming. Also, the areas that moved past haggling (Denmark, Sweden, parts of Norway) used silver as currency, which can get heavy. So what they’d do is double their silver jewellery as currency. If they wanted to buy a silk tunic from the east, they might take off their silver necklace and hack a piece off.


Other surprising things Vikings had access to: tweezers, nail clippers, cushions, griddles. Basically, the book is all about those Viking facts. I TA’d a Viking lit class for two semesters in grad school, so the Vikings have a special place in my cold heart.


Francesca Contreras – Editorial



Image Via Amazon


I recently read a really touching novel by Jhumpa Lahiri called The Namesake. It’s her first novel and it follows Bengali couple Ashimi and Ashoke’s move from India to Boston and how they find their way through the trials and tribulations of marriage. When they welcome their first child, rather than sticking to a tradition, Ashoke names his son Gogol because, when he was younger, a train accident nearly killed him and he believed that the book he was reading on the train, The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol, saved his life. As Gogol grows up, his name becomes the center of all struggles in balancing family and friends, culture and belonging. Its uniqueness is what defines him yet tears him apart as he tries to find himself.


Although it only sounds like uphill battles, this is a sweet, sentimental story about family, love, identity, and the tides of life. Everyone has felt the way Gogol does about his parents and upbringing. It’s okay to fly off and go somewhere, but you can’t forget where you came from. Lahiri’s voice comes across as soothingly familiar, a feature that makes her work so popular. Try watching the film adaptation of the same name. This is definitely one for the heart and soul.


Hilary Schuhmacher Editorial 



Image Via Amazon


Once again, I’m reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby. Reporter Carl Streator has been investigating a series of cases of sudden infant death syndrome. After he unintentionally murders his wife and newborn after reading them an African chant from a book titled Poems and Rhymes Around the World, he discovers that in each case he’s investigating, the book is not only in the child’s room, but open to the same page.


The “culling song” has the power to kill anyone it’s spoken to and eventually Carl finds out that the song’s power works even through thought, after memorizing the poem and unintentionally becoming a serial killer. His victims include, but are not limited to, rude radio hosts and people who elbow their way into elevators before people have gotten off. It’s a great book, give it a read.


Laura-Blaise McDowell Editor 


Image Via Amazon


I’m reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. As a rule, I really trust the National Book Award, for which this was nominated in 2015. It’s never steered me wrong, and this is no exception. An all-knowing narrator explores the points of view of various passing characters (including, at one point, a cat) while focusing on those of the protagonists Lotto (full name: Lancelot Satterwhite) and Mathilde, whom she tracks from birth onwards. The story is interspersed with classical references and excerpts from plays Lotto has written, which can at times become a little tedious, but that’s pretty much my only complaint. The way in which Groff navigates between characters makes the reader feel as if they are nose-diving like a bird into the minds of each character before returning to the sky, the greater plot of the story, with an image of something huge and all encompassing; the ocean or space. It’s really incredible.


While this narrator lets us in on almost every minute detail of the lives and thoughts of the characters, what keeps the reader hungry for more is the staggered and skillful way in which Groff delivers the information. You are constantly surprised and things are often not as they seem. Her examination of the terrible truths of the everyday lives of people in love is just astonishing. She’s a true wordsmith as well. Her grasp and manipulation of language is unique and the text is absolutely glittering with stunning sentences. While the general premise, the tracking of two people’s lives, is not necessarily the first of its kind, the way in which Groff approaches the story, the voice, the writing, the images are all unique and quite unlike anything else I’ve read. I’m into it.


Feature Image Via Annie Pratt