So, something pretty unusual happened to me last week: I DNFed a book. Something even more suspect happened, too: I DNFed without giving it a lot of time for me to end up getting into it. Yep, I DNFed, and at probably about 7% of the way through the book. What is going on here!? If you know me, you know that DNFing is kind of… not something I do. I haven’t done so since May of 2015. So… yeah. This is what my DNF shelf looks like in case you doubt:
Well, in the spirit of the year of “Whatever the hell we want!”, I decided to do… whatever the hell I wanted? Yes. Now, in the past, here is the narrative of how I would (not) DNF a book:
Shannon begins a book that she is bound to dislike. Her friends have cautioned that said book is a mess, not her style, or some other such warning that she simply refuses to heed. It will be okay, she tells herself. I will like this one, certainly. She seems to see the book as a challenge to overcome, as if by not reading it, she is failing.
As she begins the book, she starts to realize how wrong she was. This book is not good. Or, it is simply not for her. But, remiss to put it down without giving it a “fair chance”, she keeps reading.
The book gets no better, but Shannon realizes she has read nearly half. So, since she has spent the time on it, she reasons it may as well count for a Goodreads challenge, or a review, or something other than a DNF. She reads the book to its conclusion, and feels wholly unsatisfied and unhappy with her life choices.
This is what I do. It is a mess. But last week, between my very apparent apathy, and reading Madalyn @ Novel Ink’s review, I finally decided to just… not read the thing.
But this got me thinking about DNFs in general, and why I for one am always insistent on giving a book “a fair chance”? And I know not everyone does, but I have certainly seen other bloggers, reviewers, and readers who do the same. And my question is… do we really need to?
If you want to give a book a chance from a purely personal perspective, then by all means, have at it! But my refusal to give up on a book was some sort of weird guilt. And I am not sure that I should be feeling that guilt. I suppose if I had requested a book for review and not given it a shot, that would be a bit of a reason, since clearly I had been anticipating it, and asked for it. But outside of that? Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.
In seriousness though, maybe life is too short to worry about making sure every book that crosses our threshold deserves some kind of automatic effort? I am starting to think this is true, and I hope I can keep it up!
So here are my questions for YOU:
- Do you “force” yourself to read to a certain percentage? (I used to tell myself I would give the book until 20%, but as you can see above, that never worked out.)
- Are you okay with not finishing a book in general? Or does your DNF shelf look like mine?
- Is there a difference for you whether the book is a review copy or one you bought/obtained some other way?
- And lastly, have you ever felt guilty about not finishing a book, or felt guilty and forced yourself to finish it?