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15 Books I’m Trying Not to Leave Unfinished

Since one of my goals this year was to read more books, the first place I’ve started this year was with the large pile of books that I’ve already made good progress on but haven’t gotten around to finishing.

I don’t consider finishing books a necessity – I’m more than happy to put something aside that I find unappealing – but I have a lot of books that I was interested in finishing and just had sort of forgotten about or had gone back to the library and needed to be rechecked out.

So in January, I’m trying to focus on finishing up all these half-read titles instead of starting one new book after another.

books i need to finish

books i need to finish

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe by Anuschka Rees
I read about half of this back in November, but the idea of SO many weeks ahead of me still in maternity clothes got to me a little bit and I put it aside. Now that I’m feeling like I’m in the homestretch and not too far away from pulling back out my regular wardrobe, it’s been fun to pick it back up and keep working my way through it.

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister
I think I’ve checked the audio version of this out from the library at least 4 times. I finally only have about 15 minutes left, so I’m SO close to being done. It was interesting enough, but . . . let’s just say I’m not the target audience for this book.

Emma by Jane Austen
My book club read this one back in the spring and I read most of it, but never quite finished it up. I was really enjoying it, but having attended the discussion gave me a false sense of completion and I never picked it back up.

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
This was fascinating, but then it was due back at the library and I never finished. Time to renew it and read the second half.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
After this got raved about by Modern Mrs Darcy, I put myself on the audio list and made it through 11.5 out of 12 segments. So I’m probably less than 30 minutes from the end. I finally picked up the physical version at the library this week so I can cross this one off my list (it was kind of too creepy for me, I’ll admit).

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway
This was one of my choices for Tell Me What to Read back in (eek!) June and I still haven’t finished it, but I picked it back up this week and am now more than halfway through and finally getting pulled into the storyline.

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
I got an advance copy of this in December, read one chapter and then forgot entirely about it. For me, one chapter is the killer of books – I’ve read just enough for it not to be new and novel anymore, but not enough to usually get pulled in. But this has KILLER reviews and I’d really like to finish it.

A Year of Reading: A Month-by-Month Guide to Classics and Crowd-Pleasers for You or Your Book Group by Elisabeth Ellington and Jane Freimiller
This one I actually haven’t been all that impressed with, but each section is very short and I’ve just left it in the bathroom (which I’ve never actually done before), so I should be finished with it fairly soon and then I can move on with my life. Plus, there have been a handful of books I’ve never heard of that sound pretty good, so it’s not a complete waste.

Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sara Mlynowski
Ella listened to this whole series of fairytale retellings and LOVED them so much that she begged me to listen to one of them. I got through 2/3 of this one before it automatically returned to the library, but it was quite charming and a quick listen.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I started listening to this and I think I need to go with a physical copy instead because I was having a hard time staying tuned in. Also, I might just not be a serious enough reader to do Pulitzer Prize winning titles.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I read her first book, Everything Everything, last year and thought it was pretty dumb, but then this one was getting so much buzz and on practically every Best-of-2016 list, that I figured I’d better read it. This one is substantially more engaging for me, and I’m just waiting for the audio copy to come back around, since I still had about 25% left when it automatically returned to the library.

The Opposite of Spoiled: The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber
Bart and I started reading this one together when we lived in North Carolina after Star was born, but then we moved and never checked out a new copy and suddenly it’s been two years. But it was excellent and a topic I care a lot about, so I’d like to finish this one before my children go off to college.

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
Oh you guys. I’ve been trying to read this one for the last THREE YEARS. First my mom recommended it when her book club read it, and then Modern Mrs. Darcy suggested it when I was on her podcast, and I STILL haven’t finished it. With the movie coming out, the lines were forever long for it, but I finally got my own copy so this is the year. Hopefully . . . .

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees
This one has crazy good reviews and I think I’ll love it, but it’s on my Kindle and I kind of just keep forgetting about it. Right now, my reading list is pretty highly skewed toward non-fiction, so I think a novel will be just the thing.

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis
I started reading this in the summer and was really inspired by lots of the good advice. But then it was due back, etc (you’ve heard that story before).

And, okay, I’ve started a few new books because I just can’t help myself.

And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!

What books have you left unfinished? I always love hearing what books people haven’t managed to complete for one reason or another!

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  1. I have several books like that, too. I was midway through Eleanor and Hick and had to return it. So I checked it out again and got 80 pages further and had to return it. I guess I am going to have to check it out again!

  2. I'm planning to finish "Everyone Brave is Forgiven" this year now that it's not so new & constantly coming up due at the library.

    I've read (or half read) some of these books and I can see why you didn't finish. I think sometimes nonfiction books are made unnecessarily long from some publishing requirement. I often find myself thinking, "okay, I get your point, but I don't want to spend 10 more hours reading that same point over and over again." So I'm learning to abandon them and still give myself internal credit for reading.

  3. I had "all the light we cannot see" unfinished in audible for about 6 months and finally just returned the book for a new one when I finally admitted it just wasn't for me. I also took a few months break with The Importance of Being Little, and finished it over Christmas and it was really good.

  4. This would would drive me nuts. I can only do two books at a time, one audio and one physical. Three if you count the collection of short stories/essays I keep around for in between reads. I don't have to finish a book, but I will abandon it for good if I don't like it, or finish it if I do.

  5. Oh, what a good idea to simply make it a goal to finish the half-read books! I have several that are incomplete: Underground Railroad (I like it when I read it, but I don't think about it when it's closed on my nightstand); Here I Am (I think I had really high expectations, since I love Foer, and it didn't live up to them in the first 50 pages, so there it sits); LaRose (I am a HUGE Erdrich fan, but the subject matter of this book kills me, so I have a hard time mustering the courage to read it). And there are others I've read a bit of here and there, but just can't get into enough to keep me from reading something else.

    Like you, it doesn't bother me terribly: life is too short and there are too many books to force yourself to slog through something you don't like. But there are some books I feel like I SHOULD read, even if I don't like them.

    Do you have a cutoff point? Like, you have to read at least 50% of the book before you'll give up for good… Or you have to make it through at least 100 pages… I don't. Just curious if you do.

  6. Definitely keep going with Between the World and Me! I am a huge audiobook fan, but I'm glad I read this one on my kindle because there was so, so, so much to highlight.

  7. I don't have a lot of unfinished books, if I stop reading it's almost certain that I won't go back and finish it. I do however have a list of books that I have been meaning to read and haven't. My goal this year is to read at least 2 books a month that I already own and haven't read.

  8. I hear you! And I'm glad to know, given the number of comments, that I'm not the only one who has a pile of started-to-read-but-didn't-finish-although-i-want-to books. On my list, Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road, which I started about a year ago, then got lazy, and never picked it back up. Also, Anne-Marie Slaughter's "Unfinished Business," which I started on audiobook, realized it was one of those books that I should read while annotating, so I stopped the audio and waited for a library hard copy; got the hard copy, but didn't have time to read; signed up for the audiobook again while on vacation but realized it was too intense for vacation; and now I'm back on the waitlist for the hard copy… sounds ridiculous, i know!

  9. I let Behold the Dreamers go back to the library without finishing it. It has great reviews, so I was kind of hesitant to give up on it, but it has a depressing tone and I'm just not in the mood for depressing books right now.

    I also really hated Eligible, so I have no plans to finish that one.

    I started but never finished Modern Romance because I felt like it was telling me all of the things I already experience in dating. Real life dating is frustrating enough, I don't need to rehash it in my reading.

    I thought The Son was engaging and well-written, but it was so, so violent I just couldn't continue.

    So that's a bunch of books I gave up on and don't intend to finish. As for books I want to eventually finish, I read a couple chapters of Thirteen Moons a couple of months ago and I eventually want to get back to it. I love Cold Mountain, so I want to experience more of Charles Frazier's writing. And I really need to get moving again on my goal to read presidential biographies.

  10. Kinda jealous you have this many partially done books you can (kinda) easily finish! If I can't get into a book by page 50 or something then back it goes and I move on. I can only think of a few times I've had to re-check things out because I was part way through. I'm a "read one book" at a time though…and don't do audiobooks.

  11. I tried to read Wild and Free last year because I love Hayley & Jess… but I just couldn't do it. I tried but I had to eventually just let it go. Still love those ladies so much though & I'm happy my small book purchase helped support them all the same.

  12. I usually keep up to 3-4 books active at any one time and if I'm not getting into one for any reason, I drop it and add it to my "unfinished" shelf on Goodreads. I doubt I'll be finishing up most of those books but I like to give myself at least some credit for them (hence the list). I did recently finish Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, after having returned it to the library halfway through about a year ago (no particular reason; it's kind of long and then it was due). Some others I'd like to finish: Hiroshima, The Help, The Trumpet of the Swan, A Room with a View. Some others I've abandoned: The Five People You Meet in Heaven (it scared me!), Jane Eyre (the beginning was too sad), Pax (couldn't get into it), The Princess Bride (same).

  13. You MUST finish The Light Between Oceans! It took me forever to finally pick up and read, but it was one of my favorite books from 2016! You must finish it 🙂 I swear it's worth it!

  14. I'm actually really excited to hear your thoughts on Light Between Oceans once you finish. It seems to be INCREDIBLY polarizing. Regardless of how much a person likes it, though, it seems to be one of those books you can just discuss to death afterwards. Let me know when you're done!!

  15. I've started Anna Karenina a couple of times and put it aside. I need to just dive in. Maybe 2017 is the year!

  16. I've always struggled with starting / not finishing books! I'm not sure if I just get bored with the stories or if it's just out of laziness, lol. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one though!

  17. Between the World and Me is such an important book so I hope you are able to finish it! I listened to the audio version and hearing the author narrate it was very powerful. As for me, I’d like to finish War and Peace one of these days. Good luck!

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