Are you a did-not-finish-er…..?

bookpile4From being a very young reader, I was always under the impression that when you started a book, you read it through to the final page.  I’ve read hundreds of books in my 30 odd years that I just didn’t enjoy but I still struggled through to the end.  I don’t know what I thought would happen if I just gave up and set the book aside….Maybe a bolt of lightening from the God of books? Anyway, for whatever reason, I ALWAYS finished every book that I started.

Then, about 8 months ago, I was reading a book and really struggling to get through it.  I set it on my knee (for the hundredth time) with a sigh and looked over at my six foot bookcase which was stacked with books that I still had to read and I decided to rebel. Why should I make myself unhappy for another couple of days, reading a book that I clearly wasn’t enjoying and just couldn’t get into, when I had so many more books waiting for me? Wasn’t reading supposed to me a hobby, a pastime, a fun thing?? I closed up the hated book and set it on my shelves to try again another time.  I’m not unfair, the author has put an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears into their book so it’s only fair that I give them a fair chance and maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this particular book at this time.  I then started a new book and, guess what? No bolt of lightening, nothing. I’d been stressing myself out for no reason.

Since then, I don’t waste time struggling with a book that I’m not enjoying or can’t get “into”. I don’t give up in the first few chapters, I always give each book a fair chance because, let’s face it, sometimes the good stuff doesn’t start at the beginning of the book but some slow-starters turn out to be wow! when you keep reading.

My other rule is that, if a book is a did-not-finish, I don’t review it.  I don’t think it’s fair because I’d be judging a book on reading just a half or two thirds of it.  It wouldn’t be fair to the author.  The only books that I now read in their entirety, even if I’m not enjoying them, are books that have been sent to me for review.   I read ARC’s and review books from start to finish so that I can give a clear review of what I thought. I don’t count these books as reading-for-fun (although I usually DO enjoy them!), more like a reading-for-work so it doesn’t matter what my thoughts are while reading, I read the whole book.

What about you? Do you continue to read a book to the bitter end, even if you struggle with every page? Or are you a rebel like me who thinks that there are just too many other books out there that still need read and why faff about on this one that you’re not enjoying? I’d love to know what you all think!

Happy Reading

Alison x

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11 thoughts on “Are you a did-not-finish-er…..?

  1. Hi Alison 🙂

    Oh,what a great subject! We discuss it every month at Youth Culture Denmark. I’m the old editor who runs our wordpress site, but also write editor reviews, and then we have 5-6 girls in their teens, who review YA mainly.

    We are VERY different. And it wouldn’t be fair to say how the girls themselves are feeling about DNF-ing a book. But I must admit, that I – as an adult – aren’t the best reader. I have this terrible combination of being a perfectionist, being stubborn and then I’m an easily distracted reader.

    It’s always easy with the pageturners, where you love the writing style and the narrotor from first page. Actually that’s also the easiest novels to review, but maybe also the most boring reviews, because everything is positive and about how this book work great.

    The hard ones are not the books, that you didn’t know, but took a chance with, it’s the books which almost everyone talks positively about on Goodreads and Bookstagram, and that you don’t like. Even if I hate the writing style and the narrator (like I did in ‘It’s kind of a funny story’ by Ned something with z’s), I really struggled to DNF it.

    I know a lot of teen girls feels the same, but it’s isn’t popular at Instagram/Bookstagram to make a comment about you hated this book, that someone just bought, photograped and posted a picture of, is it? 😉 So then the feeling grow even stronger inside yourself. The readers who hated a book at instagram doesn’t tell about it, because it’s not very nice to say at others post, and if you DNF’ed a book, you rarely post a picture of it at instagram. So especially Instagram kind of hypes the most popular mainstream titles, and everyone who doesn’t like them, feels they are kind of bad readers, since they didn’t like what everybody liked. It takes a really strong personality to think otherwise.

    It’s the inner voice that tells you “Hey, everyone else likes it, I know it’s boring now, but the good parts must come soon.” And when you keep on and the good parts doesn’t come, you’re devastated. I am, and since I’m an very easily distracted reader, I quickly lose the joy of reading, so after many nights when I don’t DNF a book, which I should had, I takes days or sometimes weeks before I start reading another book. Simply because the book I found boring kind of choke me.

    (It’s a common phrase in Denmark, that school teachers choke the young students with boring classics, so that they completely lose the curiosity in finding exciting books – and many never reads books after hard months in school with ‘Mice and med’ (Steinbeck) og ‘Lord of the flies’)

    Also, I lost the joy of reading while we reviewed a lot of danish ARC’s. Like you, we always read them from first to last page, and we wrote about them for hours, even if we hated it. Then we had to analyse what we hated and to tell our opinions about it.

    I guess it’s from ARC’s we got the feeling, that we’re doing something criminal, if we DNF a book. But now where we quit the Danish ARC’s and jumped to English YA we buy ourselves or loan at the library, it isn’t a crime anymore. It’s actually a human right. But I takes a long time to realise that, especially if you’re raised to be dutyfull in school and at home.

    But we dicuss it really often now, me and the girls writing at our blog. A bad book that’s looking at me every night and my bed shelf, and that I have to turn down with “Not tonight, honey, I got at headache’ really spoiles the reading joy and the good reading rhythm, so we’re trying to DNF the books we don’t like after well, I guess about 50 pages.

    Also, we have talked about the same view as you mention. That there are a world full of great YA’s, so many that there will be thoundsands that will be our cup of tea. And wasting time on a book, we don’t like, also ruins the opportunity to use that time to read a book that would fall in our taste.

    So right now, I have promised myself to DNF books I don’t like after the first 30 maybe 50 pages. But still, it is hard, and I struggled with it as late as this weekend, because I read an absolutely great review from another really good blogger like you. And she made this book sound so great. And the when I bought it, I felt it was boring and only for children, but it was hard to DNF it, because I have promised her to tell what I thought about it. So I guess it also has a lot to do with not wanting to disappoint yourself and others. You would really, really REALLY like to have a great journey with the book, and when that doesn’t happen it takes some guts to call it off. Like it is really hard to leave from a party, you looked really forward to, but that was just really disappointing. You kind of hope to the last, that the mood will change. 😉

    Best wishes from Peter, Copenhagen, Denmark 🙂

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  2. I try to Always finish the books that I start, but I’ve also come to accept that sometimes a bok jsut isn’t fo rme and that I need to let it go and just read something else.
    I currently have 6 books shelved as DNF (on goodreads) 3 of them will stay unfinished forever, the other 3 i might give a second chance someday.

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    1. I usually leave them on my shelf and give them one more go, just to check whether I’d been in the wrong frame of mind the first time. It’s rare, however, that I change my mind and I just have to admit that some books just aren’t for me 😩

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  3. My motto is YOLO, I mean you only live once so why waste your time reading something you won’t like while thousands of other books are waiting for you to read? 😀
    And I also don’t add unfinished books to my goodreads unless stated that I DNF it.
    And I rarely review unfinished books

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  4. Hi Alison!

    I already follow you on Instagram, but having a nosey at your blog today & love this article ❤

    If I'm not enjoying a book, I will stick with it as long as I possibly can, then set it aside to try another time (like you said, reading's supposed to be fun, so if it's not making me happy, I shouldn't read it). Normally this is because I'm in the wrong frame of mind to concentrate on it or because it's hard-going and I feel like something lighter!

    The bad thing about doing this is, when you eventually pick it up to try again, you have to re-read it all to remember what had happened!

    I'm yet to post my first review (a new blogger), but I highly doubt I would ever review a book I hadn't finished – it's not fair to comment on something you don't know fully!

    Keep up the good work!
    — Teri x

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    1. Thanks so much for reaching out! I feel just the same. It definitely wouldn’t be fair to review a book which I hadn’t finished. It was my decision to put it aside, not the author’s. And maybe, just maybe, that book would have been wonderful if I’d carried on for another couple of chapters…..we’ll never know

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  5. I am a chronic ‘finish reader’- I am as you beautifully said with the book into the bitter end! I love this post! ☆

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    1. Thanks so much! I always was the same but (since my tbr shelves now consist of two six foot bookcases and are still growing) I’ve had to take the decision to put a book aside if I’m really not enjoying it. With some books, reading was beginning to feel like a chore instead of giving me the excitement it usually did.

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