Ah, the age-old dilemma every voracious reader or book blogger encounters at least once in their life: what to do about books you want to DNF.
For the uninitiated, DNF stands for Did Not Finish—an acronym used to describe a book that you, well, did not finish. In this post, I take this to mean that a person has stopped reading a book and has no plans on finishing it ever (as opposed to just temporarily dropping or re-shelving it for eventual reading).
As a reader, quitting a book is fuss-free, but for us book bloggers, the pressure to finish books is even realer, especially when it comes to ARCs or other books we receive for review. In many of these cases, reading is not solely for pleasure anymore (though hopefully a large aspect of it still is); it is also so we can give feedback and be useful to the larger reading, writing and publishing community.
I quit books. I’ve quit many, many books in my lifetime, and I’m sure I’ll quit more. Usually it’s because of one main reason: my time is limited. We only have 24 hours a day and 7 days a week here! I already have enough trouble trying to balance between work, life, family and friends, I certainly don’t have the time to read books I don’t enjoy.
In saying that, I do occasionally finish books I don’t enjoy because of various reasons, many of which are examples of the sunk-cost fallacy and definitely NOT a good way to make decisions. But alas, here I am! The following are the types of books I tend to not DNF, regardless of how much I want to.
1) ARCs or books I’ve received in exchange for an honest review.
When I receive an ARC or a book for review, I feel obligated to give an honest feedback. Some people opt to simply explain the reasons why they’re quitting the title and that’s completely fine, but to me, I’d rather finish the whole book and then review it in full.
At least this way, I can in all certainty say that I’ve given the book a fair chance and that I know what I’m talking about. Thankfully, sometimes the book ends up surprising me and I end up enjoying it too—Rebel of the Sands comes to mind here because I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the book and was so, so tempted to just put it down, but I powered through anyway because it was an ARC. Thankfully I ended up generally enjoying it.
2) Books I’ve purchased.
Money is hard-earned, guys, especially when you’ve got other expenses such as food and rent and bills. When I dislike a book I’ve purchased, I usually just temporarily re-shelve it—believing that one day, one day, I’ll be in a very particular mood for that particular book. 😛
I’m definitely likelier to put down books I borrowed from the library or e-books than physical copies I own. My investment is little, so I don’t feel as bad or wasteful not reading cover to cover.
3) Hyped books.
In my experience, a hyped book tends to go both ways—either it surpasses my bloated expectations or it’ll fall off the cliff into the abyss so hard, so fast I can’t even see it anymore.
But so it goes: I’m much more willing to give hyped books more of a chance than obscure (for lack of a better word) books. If so many people absolutely love it, maybe they see something in it that I don’t. Maybe it’ll get better in three chapters. Maybe in time, I too will love is as others have.
4) If I’m past the halfway mark.
If I’ve read 50% of the book, I’m a lot less likely to quit it than if I’ve read, say, 5% or just barely started. My thoughts usually go along the lines of: I’ve come this far, might as well. Even though I hate this… but might as well.
5) If it’s a part of a series I’ve been following for a while.
This is sunk-cost fallacy at its finest, I swear. It’s no secret that I have a complicated relationship with the Throne of Glass series. Here are my ratings thus far, and you can really see that none of these books, bar one, have received favourable reviews from me:
In all honesty, a part of me thinks I should just drop the series altogether — I feel like it’s a bit unfair for me to keep giving it low scores, and I’m actually also about 80% sure the fifth book won’t change my mind. Another part of me, though, feels like I’ve invested an x amount of time already, so I might as well just see it until the end.
6) If it’s a book I was SUPER excited about.
Call it denial, but I’m definitely less likely to DNF a book if I’ve mentioned wanting to read it many, many times. It’s like I feel if I wish hard enough, read long enough, the book will turn out as wonderful as I envisioned it to be.
7) If it’s a book by an author I love.
If it’s a book by an author whose books I’ve really enjoyed before, I’m much more likely to give the book a chance. There’s a bit of a benefit of the doubt here for sure, along the lines of: This is an author who has impressed me before, surely this book will as well… maybe in three chapters. Five chapters. OK, ten. OK… maybe not.
Do you DNF books? Why or why not? If you do, what kind of books do you DNF and what kind of books do you not DNF? 🙂