That certainly is the question! Like many readers I, too, struggle with the choice between putting a book down and never coming back to it or carrying on and finishing a book even though I’m not particularly enjoying it.
On the one hand, I read fiction purely for pleasure. So, surely, if I’m feeling miserable whilst reading a book, it would be only logical to put it down and never come back to it, right?
But, on the other hand, it annoys the crap out of me to know that I gave up on something.
I have (sort of) DNF’d books I really haven’t been enjoying for whatever reason but in the back of my mind, I’m not thinking, ‘I never want to read a single page of you again.’ No, I’m instead thinking, ‘hmmm, but I might enjoy you someday.’ And so I keep the book on the off-chance that I might like it maybe in the future. Which is ridiculous!
For example, I tried reading Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (Robyn Schneider) a couple of months ago but really disliked it. I found the narrator to be incredibly juvenile and judgmental and sexist. Take this quote:
“…most of the girls at Eastwood, or at least the ones worth noticing, all looked the same: blonde hair, lots of makeup, stupidly expensive handbags. The new girl was nothing like that.”
Um, are you serious? Looks like we got a special snowflake on our hands!
That lovely little piece of misogyny was found on page 28. I decided to give it 20 more pages (which I definitely shouldn’t have bothered with) and then DNF’d it.
BUT IT’S STILL ON MY SHELVES!?!?
Consciously I’m thinking, ‘I HATE THIS BOOK.’ But subconsciously I’m thinking, ‘but so many people enjoyed it… therefore, it must be good… mustn’t it!?’ Hell, I thought I’d really enjoy it, too. And that’s probably why I keep it on my shelves. That, and I invested my money (and my time) in the reading experience. But, every time I look at it, all I’m reminded of is the bitter disappointment I felt whilst reading it.
On a brief side note though, I actually feel completely different with library books. I’ll read a few chapters and, if I’m not really enjoying it, I will have no problem whatsoever putting it down and taking it back to the library and forgetting all about it. So money definitely plays a part in the DNF’ing process for me, too, as well as the not wanting to give up on a book. Perhaps even more so considering the amount of library books I’ve done this with.
I go back and forth with this ‘to DNF or not to DNF’ mindset all the time. And it’s frustrating for two reasons: 1) The unenjoyable book is taking up valuable shelf space that could instead be used by a book I’ll probably enjoy a hell of a lot more; and 2) It just stresses me out. I don’t want to have books on my shelves that I didn’t enjoy reading. I want my shelves to be full of books I adored and I want to feel happy when I look at them, without feeling so ughhhhhhhhh.
So, I need to come up with a solution to my internal struggles. At the moment, I allow myself to put down a book if I’m really not feeling it. But I also allow myself to believe that I’ll get back around to it someday and give it a second chance (and third and forth and fifth…).
I really need to put an end to this. I need to start being a tad more ruthless with the books I own, just like I am with library books. I just need to get rid of the books that brought me no joy whatsoever even if I do think that maybe one day I will enjoy them. I need to get over this weird fear of mine and start cutting out all the negativity!
That’s the plan anyway! Hopefully I’ll be posting an update of the books that I’ve managed to let myself part with soon. I need to learn how to completely DNF a book without feeling guilty about it. As they say: so many books, so little time!
What are your thoughts about DNF’ing books? Do you get as stressed out about it as I do? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to know how other people feel about this topic!