I want to start this by saying that DNF’ing is 100% your choice, and this is not meant to say that there is any “right” or “wrong” way to read books because that’s stupid, and as long as you’re reading books, you’re doing okay in life. Because people giving you grief about how you read your books? WOW, goodbye.
My favorite thing to say to those people is: “I could be doing drugs.” LIKE??? Why do you care what I read and how I read and what my book life is like at all? Why is that so important to you? It’s books. It could be so much worse, people.
Okay, rant done. What is DNF’ing?
Oh man, I have a complicated relationship with books I don’t like. I think most readers do, and I think most readers also have this crisis of “oh god am I really about to give up on this book? IS IT WORTH IT???”
DNF, aka Did Not Finish, is a hard thing for me to do, but also something I have done a bit more this year than previously, and I wanted to talk about why.
(Again, I don’t care if you DNF books. I don’t care if you don’t DNF books. I don’t care about how you read books. I am never going to comment on your reading life because hey! You’re reading a book! That’s great all by itself!)
I have a 100-page rule. If, by page 100, I really and truly hate a book, I’ll give up on it. A lot can happen in 100 pages. As I’m writing this, I’m in the middle of reading Spinning Starlight by RC Lewis. I did not like the first 50 pages of that book. I was really struggling to get through it, but I kept going, and what do you know, once the book got its feet wet a little, suddenly I was really enjoying it. I breezed right through the next 80 pages like it was nothing. And I’m definitely going to finish it. But what if I’d just given up after the first 50? What if I said, you know what, this sucks, bye? I never would have known that this was actually a good book.
The 100-page rule comes a little bit from my background as a writer. Sometimes, when I’m thinking about DNF’ing a book, I think about the first 100 pages of any of the books I’ve written. What if someone didn’t like the first chapter, and gave up after it? What if they actually would have started liking it later on? Wouldn’t that tough beginning be worth it? Someday, I’m going to have published books out there in the world, and if I want readers to give it a chance, I also need to give the books I’m reading right now a chance. And you know what, a lot of books take some time to get good. Disliking the first couple of chapters or first 50 pages becomes something I want to get through to see if the author just needed a little time to get their bearings. This book that I’m struggling through might be amazing if I just give it a shot. And if I DNF it right away, I’ll never know.
But, Mary! You have so many books!
(I also don’t care how many books you have. You do you, beau. I support you.)
I have so much life, too! I know, I know. I also have the moments of oh my god there are so many books so little time fear where I’m probably going to die before I get to read all the books I want to, but hey, maybe they’ll figure out immortality before then. I do have so many books (over 500 currently), and let me tell you, I’ve read about 80% of those (I actually did the math for that), and I’m really proud of that. There are so few books on my my shelves that I’ve started and haven’t finished. A lot of that is because I’ve since donated those books, but there are a few that I sometimes wonder if I’ll try again. (Immediately, I can think of two books: Flashfall by Jenny Moyer & The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I’m not really ready to give up on either of those.)
oh my god these memes are killing me
Another HUGE reason that I continue through books I’m not so sure about is my dudes, I spent money on it. Not reading a book is like just setting $20 on fire. That’s not something I do lightly. AND I KNOW ABOUT LIBRARIES OKAY DON’T @ ME IN THE COMMENTS. I don’t use libraries. I don’t have a reason for that. It’s just the way I am. I like to be surrounded by my books. I like to decorate with books. I don’t like borrowing a book because then I feel obligated to read it right away and then I have to give it back, and that’s dumb. I applaud you for using libraries, so please don’t yell at me for not. It’s my choice to buy books.
Louder for the people in the back.
IT’S MY CHOICE TO BUY BOOKS
Can you tell I’m having some personal issues with this blog post? Ya girl wants to set a lot of things on fire right now.
Guys, books are expensive, which is also dumb, but that’s another issue for another day, and when I’m spending anywhere between $10 on a paperwork and $17 on a hard cover, I’m not gonna just toss it into the DNF pile because it didn’t immediately grab my attention.
If I start reading a book and don’t finish it, it doesn’t count toward my reading goal.
I FEEL PERSONALLY ATTACKED
Ever year, I set a reading goal. This coming 2019, it’ll be 100, as it was in 2018, and that’s a lot of books, y’all. That means about 8 books a month. That’s not easy. That’s, at minimum, 2 books a week. Which means OH MY GOD LOOK AT ALL THIS MATH about 1 book every 3 days. Yeah. I’m not a very fast reader, so that means I’m reading usually about 100 pages a day, which takes me a few hours. I’ve figured out that I can read 50 pages in an hour if I’m uninterrupted. And I mean uninterrupted both by other people and by my own damn self. Now, two hours isn’t a lot of time, I realize, but most books I’m reading are 400+ pages, so really, if I want to finish a book in 3 days, I’m gonna need to read more than 100 pages per day, and if I’m DNF’ing a book after 100 pages, I JUST LOST A WHOLE DAY GUYS.
A WHOLE DAY
(I understand reading goals are completely self-afflicted. I understand that I’m setting myself expectations that I don’t actually need to meet. Keep your peanut gallery comments to yourself. IT’S BOOKS. IT COULD BE WORSE.)
When I bookshop, it takes a while. I’m talking hours. I really look at each book with careful consideration. Lately, I’ve even been trying to read the first chapter to see if the writing is going to drive me up a wall before I buy it, but I really do put thought into purchasing the books that I do. I don’t just willy nilly throw some cool titles in my cart and call it a day. I also don’t online shop for books that often, and if I do, they’re usually, like, witchcraft books or astronaut biographies or sequels. So, when I’m in a store, I’m the person sitting down in the middle of the aisle with a stack of books next to me, hunched over one in particular as I try to decide if I want to spend my money on it.
I’ve hung out with this book for a while before it actually comes to reading it, and I’m planning on counting it toward my yearly reading goal, so DNF’ing it? That also takes some careful consideration.
I have FOUR books in my bag right now. FOUR. That’s so unnecessary.
I posted about this once. (A few times.) I like to have options, okay, and DNF’ing a book minimizes those options a little. Don’t like a book right away? Read something else at the same time. You’ll either end up with two books you need breaks from OR a really excellent book to spice up your reading life while you’re still getting into the other book. Spinning Starlight is great now, don’t get me wrong (I haven’t finished it yet, so keep an eye out for my December Reads post to see if I still like it at the end), but I know that I’m going to want options while I’m reading it because it’s not wowing me, so I’ve got a sequel for a book I really loved, a reread, and a romance just in case I need a break.
My dudes, it comes down to this. Should you DNF a book? That’s your choice. Don’t listen to other people. Don’t let other people’s opinions sway your reading life. READ WHAT YOU WANT TO READ, AND READ HOW YOU WANT TO READ. Ain’t nobody stopping you but you. If you want to DNF a book, do it. If you don’t, then don’t. You don’t have to have reasons, and if you do, you don’t have to explain them to people. They’re books, ffs. If you have to explain to someone why you’re reading, you might have a different problem going on.
HOLY SOMEONE SHOW THIS REASONING TO MY DAD
(aside: he’s allowed to give me crap for my book habits, he’s my dad, he’s allowed to give me crap about everything because I do the same thing to him. it’s just funny because he legit cackles anytime I try to explain away buying more books.)
This has been a long, rambling argument, mostly with myself, about whether or not to DNF books. Sometimes, sure. Sometimes, nah. In the end, it’s up to you. So really, I guess this blog was just a way to tell you to stand in your truth. Own your passions. Be proud of the things you love. Be honest always. It literally never matters what other people think. If you’re happy, that’s it. That’s the endgame.