DNF: Quest for the Cure by Brent R. Stockwell

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Apparently, I'm making a pattern of "do not finish" books. (According to my clinical instructor, once is a mistake, twice is a pattern). I don't think I am going to have a DNF post every week. However, I do think I am more likely to leave a book unfinished these days, because as I'm becoming immersed in nursing school, I have less time to read. I want to spend the time I have reading something I enjoy, not forcing myself to read something I don't enjoy. I'm not going to give up on every book I struggle with, but I don't have many regrets about this one. Here's the breakdown:

Why I quit:
* The book was dry as can be, with long stretches reading like a textbook. Textbooks have their place, and there have been many textbooks that I loved. However, in a mainstream nonfiction book, I am looking for something a little more readable.
* The book was extremely technical but also dumbed down, if that makes sense. Many of the processes being described in extreme, simple detail were processes I already knew from my first degree. This isn't an intrinsic fault of the book and is probably very helpful for those who are starting from scratch in their learning about drug development, but for me, it was very painful.
* The book had some propaganda elements that bothered me. In the first few pages, the author made a statement stating that because drug development is slowing down due to the lack of proteins able to interact with drugs, we are all essentially doomed to die long painful deaths of terminal illnesses. Yes, there is no cure for cancer, and yes, it is a terrible thing. However, just because some illnesses are not yet cured does not mean that as a race we are going to die out in misery. A lot of progress has been made, and there is room for more.
* The author also made statements about many of the scientists he worked with that did not quite flow with the book. He would be describing an experiment and then make some statements about the scientist along the lines of, "He's a great guy. He called me once, and we did an experiment together. Then he died of cancer." I think the author was trying to make the book less dense, but when there wasn't a direct point to his comments on the scientists, they seemed a bit random.

Why it was hard to stop:
* This is a review book that I requested from NetGalley. I've never outright decided not to read a book I have from NetGalley, and the guilt is consuming *ashamed face*.
* I really am interested in drug development. My father has worked for drug companies for most of my life, and I almost went into pharmacy instead of nursing. I was sad that this book and I didn't mesh.
* There were some very interesting facts presented in this book - interesting enough that I think I may pick it up again some day in the future. I just didn't enjoy wading through the explanations of how proteins were made.

Who this book might work for:
I have a feeling that heading is awkward. However, I lack the energy to grammatically save it.
* If you are curious about drug development and haven't studied molecular processes in great detail, these explanations should really help you. They are written in layman's terms and explained very slowly and carefully. I do think it would be very clear in helping someone unfamiliar with the Central Dogma to understand the basics of molecular biology and how they relate to drug development.

Hopefully this is my last DNF in a while. And I'm curious, do you ever DNF review books? Do you feel consumed by guilt like me?


  1. DNF is entirely justified in many cases - with so many books out there, why waste precious reading time on one that you are not enjoying?!

  2. I have only once not read a NetGalley book. I felt awful when I pressed the declined button and updated!

    I think this book would be good for me though, as I'm interested in the topic but don't know much about it.

  3. I am glad I saw this post - I saw this book at BEA and was interested in it (I work in drug development) but might just give it a miss now.


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