A Bookish New Years Resolution: Don’t Be Afraid to DNF Books

Confession. I used to be massively afraid of DNFing books. Even if I was hating it, even if I loathed every single character and wasn’t getting an ounce of joy from the book I would keep ploughing on until finally I finished the last page and laid the book to rest. And what did I feel? A big sense of accomplishment at finishing a book that challenged me? Did I experience a big moment of clarity where I realised I had been foolish and actually loved this book? No. I just felt annoyed that I had spent loads of time reading a book where I didn’t even care about the resolution (see what I did there?).

So why did I keep reading these books? Believe me, this is a question I have asked myself a million times, not only philosophically but also when I’ve just finished the book, and also while I’m reading the book. While one half of my brain prattles away only just barely taking in what I am reading, the other half is screaming at me just to put the book down, because why am I still reading it? I think, I have managed to come up with a couple of reasons.

  1. Commitment – this may sound funny and clichรฉ and I’m not sure if I’m completely putting two and two together and getting five, but in general I am a very committed person. When I have started something I am going to finish it and I just think the same used to be true of books.
  2. Time and investment – so basically there was this vicious cycle type thing going on where I would kind of, not enjoy the beginning of the book but think it might get better so I kept going. When it didn’t get better I was around half way and I had already put so much time and effort into getting that far, I needed to finish the book so that I had something to show for it.

You know what I had to show for it more often than not? A reading slump, that’s what!

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So, at the tail end of 2017 I DNF’d two books, interestingly a contemporary and a fantasy. Also interestingly, books I know a lot of people liked and loved. These books were:

  1. It Only Happens in the Movies – Holly Bourne
  2. Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake

I had picked both of these books up for different reasons. The Holly Bourne because it was a contemporary (my main genre) and seemed like something I might like. Three Dark Crowns because I loved the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo so much (I wonder if I’ll still be gushing about these books at the end of 2018? I feel like the answer is probably yes!) that I’ve been trying to be a bit more open minded about fantasy.

Despite these different motivations and the different genres of the books my reasons for DNFing were pretty similar, and when I say pretty similar I mean EXACTLY THE SAME. Basically, I wasn’t into them and I wasn’t enjoying them. It Only Happens in the Movies came first and I had read a few chapters, not got into the story or connected with the characters and I just thought, why? Why am I reading this when I’m getting pretty much nothing out of it? The same happened with Three Dark Crowns, it was just not working for me.

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Now that I’ve made that big leap of faith and DNF’d a few books (and realised that I really should have DNF’d Passenger earlier in the year, that book was a waste of my time) I’ve come to realise something which is probably news to me and not to anyone else in the known universe:

DNFing a book doesn’t make it a bad book, it just means it wasn’t the book for me. I mean I won’t lie, sometimes it does mean it’s a bad book because they do exist, but, as was the case with the two (three including Passenger) that I have mentioned, they weren’t bad books, I just didn’t connect with them. In all three cases I know people have adored these books and I am so happy for you guys, I am so happy that you managed to get something from this book that I didn’t. It’s great. It’s what makes blogging and the book community so wonderful, we’re all different!

Along with this point comes another that I think was something I experienced before I started blogging but I think it’s become more prevalent since: I always want to find some deep meaning as to why I don’t like a book. Ok, maybe not that deep, sometimes it’s ‘there’s a love triangle, get that thing away from me’, but a lot of the time I keep on reading just so I can figure out why I’m not getting or not enjoying a book. Why do I do that? I mean, don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s cool to read a book you don’t like and be able to share your views and opinions, I mean, I’m not going to lie I quite enjoyed reviewingย 13 Minutes earlier this year, not because I like being negative (because I don’t by a long shot) but because I was quite passionate about the reasons I didn’t enjoy it. The problem occurs when there is no passion there, either positive or negative, when a book is just giving me nothing. Well note to self: sometimes that happens, DNF and move on.

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I think my last reason for DNFing more in 2017 and not being afraid of DNFing this year (or at least trying to) is stress and pleasure reading. For me, reading has first and foremost been for pleasure and when I’m reading books that aren’t making me feel anything, where is the pleasure in that? Nowhere, that’s where. This year is my last semester of my English undergraduate degree which, I’m not going to lie, makes me pretty happy. No more reading like three books a week! No more exams! It does mean though that up until June things are pretty stressful so I need my pleasure reading to be a refuge. For that to happen I need to spend time reading books I enjoy and not forcing myself through ones I don’t. Also, in September (if things go my way) I will be starting my teacher training (how did that happen?!) which is amazing but I’m not sure how it will affect my reading. Will I read less because I’m really busy? Will I read more because I will have less actual course readings to do? I don’t know but what I do know is that during this time I want to be feeling stuff about the books I read, be that, like I said, good or bad stuff.

So there we have it. I don’t normally make any New Years Resolutions but this one just felt like it needed to be done. Hopefully I won’t be reading many, if any books this year that I am tempted to DNF but if it does happen, I’m going to try and have the courage to put that book down.

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What is your opinion on DNFing books? Which books have you DNF’d recently? Have you ever DNF’d a book it felt like everyone else loved? Do you have any bookish goals/resolutions for this year?

As always, happy reading!

P.S. I do have one more resolution this year that I have mentioned in a couple of previous posts:

Be more Nina Zenik. ย 

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23 thoughts on “A Bookish New Years Resolution: Don’t Be Afraid to DNF Books

  1. This is a great resolution. There are so many good books out there to read, after all. I think a book that I DNFed that everyone loves is The Grisha Trilogy. Couldn’t even make it 50 pages in before I had to stop.

    – Caidyn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I just don’t have time to spend on books I’m not getting into! Ah ok that’s really cool, DNFing series is quite interesting actually because like I said, I finished Passenger even though I knew it was the first in a duology/series and had no intention of reading the second book and now I’m just like, why?! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really need to read this post today, so thank you! I really really hate to DNF books, even when I know that they’re bad for me or that I simply can’t connect with them. I know that is not the worst thing ever and that you haven’t to keep on reading when the book is boring you out of your mind, etc.. but I find that it’s nearly impossible to me to abandon a book… and yet yesterday I DNF a book, so today I am swinging between feeling so proud of my self and feeling guilty as hell!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww you’re so welcome, I’m so happy I could help you out! I was exactly the same, I just could not get myself to put a book down because I felt bad about it but really interestingly once I had done it a couple of times it got easier because I felt so much better after I had DNF’d and started a new book I liked much better! I think we should be really proud of ourselves that we are taking this leap forward in our reading lives! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Same, it’s just so difficult to make that decision to actually take the bookmark out and put the book aside! In terms of goodreads I think I’ll just remove it from my shelf, pretend it never happened, haha! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

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  3. I used to struggle with DNFing books, too. Then I started DNFing in the summer and I didn’t look back haha. One book I DNFed recently is Who Runs the World…it’s supposed to be about a matriarchal society which I was all about. Once I started reading, the chapters were messy and basically no quotation marks. It was so bad and I knew I couldn’t handle reading the rest of it.

    Some of my bookish goals are to read the entire HP series (2 books down!) and read 10 non-fiction books. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! That’s really what I found that DNFing is really hard until you do it the first time and then I found it pretty liberating! Ooh those are great goals! I’ve got a goal quite similar to you HP one actually because I’m hoping to read the whole Percy Jackson series this year but you’re way ahead of me, mine might have to wait until summer!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly!! Feels like I’ll DNF anything now haha.

        I’m going full-steam ahead on HP and I’m ready to start the 3rd book, but I want to try to read what else is on my TBR.

        I’ve never read Percy Jackson, either! I’ll have to check that one out next. Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this!! I usually never dnf books- I just torture myself and power through them even if they suck or even if theyโ€™re something Iโ€™m not enjoying as much as others seem to enjoy. But ever since I tried reading Illuminae, and saw that it REALLY wasnโ€™t something I didnโ€™t enjoy, I finally decided to be okay with just letting go off books I donโ€™t seem to enjoy at all.
    This is a great resolution!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Exactly, I always used to do it because I just couldn’t face putting the book down but once I had done it once and realised that the world didn’t actually end it has become loads easier! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Hopefully I can actually carry through this resolution this year! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I very rarely DNF books. Mostly I just realize I’m not in the mood for a particular book at that moment and I set it aside for a while and then try it again when the mood actually strikes. The only book I DNF’d in 2017 was King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man I envy you! I always try and tell myself that I’m not in the mood and that I will come back to a book later (whether I finished it or not) but I never end up actually doing it! Yeah before I DNF’s these two books I can’t actually remember DNFing a book for years but because reading has become such an stress-reliever for me I just don’t want to read books that aren’t interesting me! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, that is a perfectly understandable reason to DNF a book. I think I’ve reached the point where I can tell myself that it’s okay to DNF a book if I’m actually not interested in it, but with many of them I can see that it is a timing issue and I can try again later.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha thanks! Yeah exactly, I think what I’ve found recently is that it’s mostly about being comfortable with the thought of DNFing and that probably makes me more tolerant reading some books because I know that if I’m not enjoying it I can DNF guilt free!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Now, I won’t do a full review or give a rating for a DNF’d book. If I had a handful of DNF’s then perhaps I would do a collection of what would basically be short opinions on them, but I feel like a review and rating is only fair to something you finished…or at least read 80% or so. But that’s just me.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to hate DNFing books, probably because if I commit to something, even i I hate it, I have to see it through. But lately I haven’t been forcing myself to read all the popular books just because everyone is readinng them and I have been allowing myself to DNF them if I truly don’t enjoy them. My policy when DNFing is to at least read half the book though, because there are some truly brilliant books which have awful beginnings and i don’t like to judge too much on the first three chapters.
    I really enjoyed this post ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes exactly, I always used to feel so bad dnfing! That sounds like a good policy, I wish I had your resilience because if I don’t connect with a book within the first few chapters I am so tempted to put it down!! Thank you! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›

      Liked by 1 person

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