Books,  Reading

Let’s Chat: DNFing Books

Okay, so, full disclosure, while I am totally on board with quitting on a book that’s making me miserable, there’s this subspace called “mild interest” that lies between enjoyment and misery where I’m willing to keep reading to see what happens but I’m not really enjoying myself and just wanting it to be over.

This is where I often don’t know what to do. On one hand, if a book is say, 350 pages long, and I’m 125 pages in, I feel like I’m almost done and might as well finish the book. On the other hand, I don’t really think it’s worth it, and I’m actually decidedly NOT almost done with the book. There are so many stories out there. I’m really only going to find a small percentage of them interesting.

So my unwillingness to quit reading a book that I’m not enjoying doesn’t make any sense to me. Time isn’t infinite. Why am I slogging through books? I literally read two books last month that I spent at least half the book wanting it to be over. Why did I do that to myself? I should only read books that I’m enjoying.

I think in some cases that it has a lot to do with how long it takes me to get the point where I want to quit. There’s a certain “return on time investment” that I’m reluctant to let go of. So, I push through so I wouldn’t have “wasted my time?” You could easily make an argument that I’m still wasting my time when I’m reading a book that I hate.

Last week, I forced myself to finish a book that I knew I wasn’t going to like about 30 pages in. The book is 325 pages long. So I forced myself to read 300 pages!! All because I didn’t want to spend 7 days slogging through a book only to DNF it and not have anything finished yet. Because I’m pretty sure if I’d tried to read this later in the year, I wouldn’t have bothered with it. So, I shouldn’t have bothered with it now.

I should have at least set it down and picked up another book and maybe gone back to it later. Or never. When I’m annoyed with a book and forcing myself to read it, my opinion isn’t going to get better. Neither is my mood.

I was thinking about that book earlier this week while I was slogging through two different ARCs. Neither one of them sucked, but I wasn’t enjoying myself. On one, I quit 13 pages in because I just didn’t think it was very good. Nothing interesting was happening, and the writing wasn’t very good either.

On the other book, I quit on page 24. Yeah, maybe that’s early, but I felt like I was being asked to push a 50 pound square boulder up a mountain, and they’re like, “It’ll totally be worth it.” And I’m like, “It should be worth it now.” Set up should still be interesting. And in this book, it actually was mildly interesting. I just didn’t care. Because I was pushing a boulder up a hill and it was making my brain hurt. So, it wasn’t interesting enough to be worth the trouble.

When I think about it, the fact that I would read a book that’s making me miserable or even mildly unhappy just because I don’t want to quit is so ludicrous. Reading is a hobby. HOBBIES SHOULD BE FUN!! I wouldn’t watch a movie that’s giving me grief, and movies are a hell of a lot quicker to get through than books!

So, I quit on two books yesterday, and I feel really good about it. I felt free. ^_^

4 Comments

  • Tonja Drecker

    I stopped reading and turned down reviews for more books the last month or so than I have in all my years of reviewing. At times, I wonder if I’m getting too picky and not giving the books a chance…but these books really aren’t great (imo). There are a few books I pushed through because they were not really captivating me but not really horrible, horrible either. I hate those because I really should just shove them aside. And you’re right about the investment return…if a book get me almost halfway through and then goes sour, I continue on, hoping it will get better just because I’ve already gotten so far. But you’re right about not wasting time with a bad book. There are SO many good ones out there and there’s not enough to time read even a tiny portion of them as it is. Go get those good books!

    • Krystal Jane

      Yes! Let’s get after all the good books! You’re definitely not being too picky. We really can tell pretty early on if we’re going to like a book or not, and there are so many options better suited to our tastes out there. Cheers to us prioritizing those great reads. 😀

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