It’s summer! Usually that seems to mean less obligations. More time for relaxing! Fun in the sun! But this year seems to be the busiest year I’ve ever had, with trips to take, weddings to go to, and my own wedding to plan. I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to get more selective about the books that I’m picking up and request less ARC/egalleys and I do think I’ve been doing a good job of that, but sometimes even the books that I THINK I’ll love don’t always turn out to be amazing for me.
I’m currently in a situation where I’ve started at least three different books and making it about 20% into them, I can just tell I’m not enjoying them. I’m not one who’s afraid to DNF and I always feel like I have good reasons to when I do, but it’s still feels like giving up sometimes and I just hate that feeling. With three books that I’m just not into recently, I feel incredibly guilty contemplating the big bad DNF for all of them, but sometimes not finishing a book is not a bad thing.
Firstly, putting a book down is a good thing for my reading schedule. If I’ve given the book a fair chance (which I always make sure I do), then what’s to stop me from saying that this book just isn’t working for me? I know I have a busy life. Besides that I have a busy READING life. I have a whole bookcase of books that are begging to be read, not to mention all of the other ARC copies — both physical copies and egalleys — that I still have to get to as well. Sadly, many a book has gone unread for the time being because I’m working my way through other books… So why force myself to finish a book that I’m just REALLY not enjoying and not spending that time on other books that I could be reading that I may totally love? It’s a better idea to just mark as DNF, know I gave it a really good shot, and move on to something that I’ll really enjoy.
DNFs often seem like the mark of death for a book, but really, I think it’s kinder than making myself finish something I’m really not enjoying. Sometimes I know it’s a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me” — and it truly is. There have been a lot of books that I really didn’t enjoy or that I chose to put down because I could tell they just didn’t jive with my reading tastes, and that’s okay! Not every reader will love every book. I do the best that I can to pick what I think I’ll enjoy, but sometimes I’ll try to get into it and just realize this book and I were never meant to get along. I think it’s a nicer thing to mark the book as DNF, explain why I wasn’t enjoying it, and move on instead of forcing myself to finish and writing a one or two star review saying how much I didn’t enjoy it. This system may not work for everyone because some people rate their DNFs as a one star book, but I don’t rate my DNFs for that reason — sometimes I really do think a book is that bad, but most of the time, I know it just wasn’t for me and I don’t think an author deserves a one star rating from me because I just wasn’t the intended audience! I think stopping what I was reading and not rating the book is far kinder.
Putting a book down also takes away that stress of feeling forced to finish it! I feel terrible not finishing review copies because I really do feel that obligation to read them since they were given to me for that expressed purpose… But I’ve been in a couple situations before where that weight has just been lifted off my shoulders once I decide to put a book down! I think that’s how you know you made the right decision!
And if all else fails, you can always come back to it! Even if you give the book away, you can always come back to it again. Maybe see if it’s at the library, borrow it from a friend… But if you feel that guilty about not finishing a book, you can always come back to it later! Maybe that will really tell you how you’re feeling about a book too. I usually put books aside and come back a couple days later just to see if I’m really feeling like I don’t want to finish, and usually my feelings haven’t changed, but it’s always good to have that option if you need it!
When it all comes down to it, I ask myself one question: If I weren’t blogging, would I keep reading this book? I never had a problem putting books down and walking away from them before I started blogging and before the days of ARCs in my world. Even if I had purchased the book or someone purchased it for me, I just didn’t feel any sort of obligation to read it. If I wasn’t enjoying it, I wasn’t enjoying it and I was picking a book to read for fun. Blogging is my hobby and as much as I do want to do these books justice and also feel responsible for reading ARCs I receive, I just have to know that not all books will be right for me.
I do still feel guilty for marking books as unfinished… but sometimes that’s a very beneficial thing to my reading experience, my blogging career, and even to the author. It seems like the most negative thing you could possibly do, but I don’t really think it’s terrible. I really try to finish the books I pick up, but sometimes I just have sort of cut my losses, so to speak and realize that a book just may not be ideal for me through no fault of its own.
So tell me! Do you DNF? Do you feel guilty for putting books down or is it just part of the natural cycle of choosing books? Do you always feel obligated to finish or do you think it’s better to just walk away if you’re not enjoying a book?
A big thanks to Christina, Nikki, Ginger, Estelle, Lauren, and Leanne for a great Twitter conversation about this topic and helping inspire this blog post!