This week I thought I’d cover two topics that can be seen as a little controversial in the book world (although I’m not entirely sure why) and the first is DNFing books. DNF stands for “did not finish” and it always seems like people are either for it or against it. I can understand all the arguments; I’ve been on both sides at one point in my life or another. Right now, I’m all for DNFing books. There are so many books that I’d like to read and not enough time in my schedule between work, blogging, writing and life to read them all, so if a book isn’t connecting with me, I’m going to put it down.
There was a time when I felt guilty about that. Writers put a lot of time and effort into the books that they write; if you start one, you can give them the time it takes to finish one, right? Well, sure, you can. But I also think writers want people to enjoy their books. If I had books on the market, I know that I would. I also know that a book isn’t going to connect with every single person, so if someone isn’t enjoying my book, I think I’d rather they put it down and find a book that they will enjoy. Reading should be a pleasurable experience–or appreciated, if the book is about a topic that isn’t exactly enjoyable. If you aren’t enjoying it, let it find its way into the hands of someone who will.
When deciding not to continue a book, there are two general “guidelines” that I like to follow.
READ TO A SET NUMBER OF PAGES
Set a number of pages that you will read before deciding not to finish a book. First impressions aren’t always accurate, and while the first chapter might not grab you, there’s a good chance that later chapters will. I always say that I’ll read to page 50, but for a longer book I generally shoot for somewhere between the 50 and 100 page mark. I chose 50 pages because that’s what a former teacher once said she reads to. I’ve also found that with a lot of the books that I read, 50 pages is a good indicator of whether or not I’ll connect with a book, but I haven’t reached the point where I feel like I’ve invested enough time that I should just finish it to see how it ends.
DETERMINE WHAT ISN’T WORKING FOR YOU
What exactly is it that isn’t working for you? Are you not connecting with the characters or is the plot not as gripping as you thought it would be? Is it not holding your attention? Determine why you want to stop reading the book and if it’s something that’s a deal-breaker for you in a book, it’s probably time to say goodbye. If you can’t quite put a finger on what’s bothering you, it might not be the right book for you at this time. Those are the books that I like to set aside to return to later. If I’m not interested in that book at that time, I’ll give it another shot later (and oftentimes, I love it!). But if you set it aside and have no desire to pick it up again, it’s time to pass.
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