DNF’ing Books

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky @ Eternity Books and hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits. It’s a meme where participants discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Details on suggesting topics and downloading the official header images, as well as an updated archive with the latest topics can be found on Aria’s blog.

This week’s topic is timely for me, as I just noted a DNF in my September Reading Wrap-Up last week.

Before diving in, I should note that I use the term DNF (did not finish) for any book I’ve deliberately put down for a time, even if I know I might return to it at some indeterminate point in the future. So, for me, not all DNFs are permanent.

What makes me DNF a book? And how often?

There are three main reasons I might DNF a book:

  • The writing is just awful. This is subjective to a point, I guess, but if the characters are two-dimensional, or the dialogue is cliche and utterly predictable, or there’s absolutely no plot (and I do mean absolutely no plot, because I’ve been surprised by some minimal-plot lit fic, but in those cases, the writing really has to sing and the book has to be incredibly thought-provoking), or the book is so poorly written and/or edited that I just don’t see why the publisher even bothered… then yeah, that’s an automatic permanent DNF. But it’s also an obvious and predictable DNF, which means it doesn’t happen very often because, like most readers, I try to weed those books out in the first place.
  • It’s a tougher slog than I anticipated. This could mean that the plot beats are too far apart and the narrative sags, or that the writing is too ponderous and heavy, or even that the subject matter is simply more difficult than I expected. Whatever the specifics, if the book is just a hard go, I may put it down for a while – or forever, if there was little about it that pulls me back. I go through spells where I’m drawn to heavy and ponderous books, so DNFs of this type happen fairly often when I’m in one of those phases. And it’s typically a 50/50 chance as to whether I’ll pick them up again. I also DNF books for this reason when I’m in the mood for and expecting something lighter and get a ponderous tome instead. This is what happened last month with Martin Seay’s The Mirror Thief: I absolutely love the premise and there were some real highlights, but they were too few and too far between, and the writing felt a bit overwrought in places. I do hope to pick it up again, but we’ll see.
  • Let’s be honest: Sometimes I just see a squirrel. I get really excited about a new book and dive headlong into it before finishing something else (or multiple somethings else) I’m already reading. Sometimes that works out; sometimes I’m able to alternate reading them and finish both without any breaks. But more often, I end up putting one of them down for a bit so I can concentrate on the other. And occasionally that means I just don’t pick the put-down book back up. DNF by squirrel, let’s call it. Honestly, this is probably the most common reason I DNF a book, but it’s also the least likely to be permanent. Because if the book is actually good and memorable, I will almost always circle back to it. This is what has happened a few times with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I really enjoy reading them, and then some highly anticipated new release comes out or I stumble on something magical at the library or a bookstore, and – “Squirrel!” – I’m distracted and off on a tangent again.

Do I review books I’ve DNF’d?

If I have something to say about a book, I’m going to write about it, regardless of whether I finished it.

I should note here: I don’t review books formally or for a living; otherwise, my answer would probably be different. But for the purposes of my little blog, I write whenever I feel I have something to say, and that’s not restricted by whether I made it to the final page of a book.

If a book felt flat-out awful, I might write about why I felt it was so awful or what might have made it better. But since I try to weed those books out in the first place, that rarely happens. If the book was a tough slog, I might write about what made it so tough to get through and whether I feel it’s worth the effort anyway. And if I DNF a book because I saw a squirrel, chances are I’m going to come back later and finish it, and then, if I have something I want to say about it, I’ll write about it.

No matter the reason, though, I never include DNF’d books in my monthly page counts.

What about you? What is your take on DNF’ing books?

2 thoughts on “DNF’ing Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s