Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Art of DNFing

I've been waiting all week to bomb you all with another Valentine's Day-themed blog post ... but alas my brain is not working. Let it suffice to say that my favorite literary couple resides in The Scarlet Pimpernel and you should all watch the 1934 movie version on YouTube. Now for the art of putting a book down.

Please tell me that I'm not alone in feeling obligated to finish a book once I start it. Up until last month, I was determined to push through any book I began. But guess what? I don't have time for that.

I guess my logic went like this: I like to rate/review all books I read, not just the positive ones. I don't feel qualified to leave any negative feedback if I didn't finish the book to get the whole picture. Well, I've finally decided that's stupid and I need to change xD

Why would I put myself through a terrible book, wasting time and mental energy when I have zero interest in finishing it? I think I'll solve my previous problem by creating a DNF (did not finish) shelf on Goodreads and forget about rating those ... it'll speak for itself.

I think I also felt like if I DNFed something, it didn't count as reading it ... I think that's kind of bogus. Same with skimming. DNFing and skimming aren't full-attention reading cover to cover.  But if you gave it a shot and set it aside ... you can rest assured that that's just as final and "complete" as reading a book cover to cover. It's not your fault if you didn't enjoy it.

And as much as I hate to slap a I-disliked-this-book-so-much-I-couldn't-bear-to-finish-it label on books ... I'm going to start doing it.

Some of you are applauding my reading progressivism and others of you are probably sitting in stunned horror. Here's my reasoning:

  • I don't have time to waste reading books I don't enjoy
  • I should really be reading for my own enjoyment and edification, not to make authors happy
  • I don't have to rate books I DNF; I can just say I didn't finish and why
  • I'll get to books I could enjoy much quicker if I DNF the ones I'm not enjoying
All that being said, there are few times I can think of when DNFing is absolutely not okay and those exceptions would be when
  • beta reading
  • editing
  • reading when you promised a review
  • a school assignment
If you've made a promise to an author or have an expectation from your teacher or parents, you'd better knuckle down and follow through no matter the pain. (Trust me, I've been there.) But if you haven't made any promises, then don't feel bad setting the book aside and moving on to something more fun!

I think this is going to be harder for me than it sounds, but also a much better use of my reading time. Plus, just because you DNF something right now doesn't mean you can't return to it (and like it) later. Sometimes the timing just isn't right.

I also think feeling freer to DNF will lead me to try more books on a whim, because I won't feel bad putting them down. As long as I can maintain the balance of trying new things, going into books hoping to like them, and making it say ... 10% before setting them aside, I think DNFing will help me expand my reading horizons, not limit them to a narrow niche of preference. 

The more I think about it, of course I have started books and never finished them. I just don't think I've ever intentionally stopped reading a book ... Sounds like I need to update my DNF shelf on Goodreads ;)
What's a book you've DNFed (or should have)? What are your thoughts on stopping a book in the middle? Is it a struggle for you or second nature?

If you really want some good Valentine's Day posts, check out Nadine's on standards and singleness and Aberdeen's on her favorite romance books.

Don't forget today's the last day to enter this giveaway.