Today, The Tattooed Book Geek’s latest blog post is about books that you DNF (did not finish) – and the reasons why you would stop reading a book. Every reader at some point is faced with this issue, and every reader essentially has their own ‘policy’ in regards to whether or not they should continue on with a book that just isn’t up to par for their tastes.
I’ve broached this subject a little bit in previous post’s but I think it’s important to address the issue directly in a post strictly about the topic.
For starters, it is quite difficult for me to DNF a book. I figure that I made the initial investment in getting the book to begin with, that, in the least, I should soldier through a book despite how difficult that may be. Over the years however, I have developed a bit of a ‘policy’ in regards to DNFing a book.
Secondly; unless a book is atrocious, I NEVER openly admit to myself that I “did not finish” a book that I’ve set down and never picked up again. I don’t want to make that ‘break up’ with a book official. My official book break-up’s (like ROBOGENESIS by Daniel Wilson) are quite different. I gladly tell people how terrible those books are because I feel it to be almost a public service.
But yes, there are plenty of books that I’ve started and simply set aside with a bookmark in place where I had last left off. These books I feel ashamed to tell people that I hadn’t finished. This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations where I realize that it’s not the books fault that I haven’t continued on with it – it’s just not the right time for me to be reading that particular book.
But when it comes to non-fiction books – my views on DNFing a book are quite different – I don’t.
I have an inability to DNF non-fiction. I’ll slog through even the most boring and irritating non-fiction book no matter how long it takes. I recently read a non-fiction book about the history of the post office that was nothing short of worthless. This book could have been far better – I mean, the Wikipedia entry on the subject is more stimulating than this book was. Why the author hadn’t included any anecdotes from the MILLIONS of people who’ve worked for the Post office or interviewed any of the people who played historic roles in the shaping of the Post Office is beyond me.
Instead all you got was this very dry narrative that got worse the more you read it.
I should have DNF’d that book – but I didn’t, and I didn’t because some part of me believes that with EVERY nonfiction book, if read, you will gain something from – whether it’s a new insight or a new fact in how the world works. To DNF a nonfiction book, then, is some sort of sin I feel I’ve committed.
This is also the reason why I didn’t DNF The Forgotten Man.
Currently I’m reading WALKAWAY by Cory Doctorow and for awhile I contemplated setting this book down and, essentially giving up on it (I’ll go into this more when I get to writing my review). The reason that I have, for now, chosen to continue on with the book is that I read multiple reviews that the book does get better after the half-way point and, admittedly, I am seeing this occur.
What I’m trying to say is that I search out reasons to CONTINUE with a book even when all I want to do is set it down and move on. I want to give books as much of a chance as I can. Even with ROBOGENESIS I kept pushing myself to “just read 20 more pages” until finally I couldn’t take it any more.
There are a few genres that I rarely touch howevr due to my DNF rate being so high with them – the primary genre that I DNF is fantasy.
Fantasy novels just have an inability to hold my attention. This is why I refuse to read Harry Potter – I tried and DNF’d the first book almost a decade or so ago. I can’t even name one fantasy novel off the top of my head that I’ve enjoyed – aside from maybe the Six of Crows/ Crooked Kingdom duology.
What are your views on DNFing a book?