I spend a lot of time hanging around the cyber book community – be it booktube, bookish sites like Bookriot, book blogs, browsing book lists or Goodreads – and one term that I’ve recently stumbled upon quite frequently is “DNF” or “DNFing” as a verb. What does this mean? Did not finish, basically it means you were reading a book and you decided to drop it – it wasn’t worth your time anymore and so you decide not to finish it. There are sides to this term – some people think it’s a bad thing, to keep giving up on books, to have a pile of half-read books that just don’t count to anything. Some people think it’s a good thing – you save your precious time to things you actually enjoy.
I was always the type of person to persevere through a book once I’d read a certain amount of pages. It wasn’t actually a specific page count so much as it was the time I had invested, and the percentage of the book I’d already consumed – if I was more than halfway through it felt like such a waste not to finish it. I’ve always been of the mind that even when you don’t enjoy a book – or even dislike it, you can still learn and/or gain something from it. Sometimes you realize you dislike a certain trope or way of storytelling, sometimes the text is not challenging you or it’s too challenging – no matter the problem it can still be a rewarding experience in one way or another even if it’s not always enjoyable. On the other hand – I also believe that some books just have to be read in the right time, and a book that could’ve been great in a different point in your life just didn’t do it for you in the present.
The argument for DNFing books you don’t like/enjoy is usually that there’s a limited amount of time, and an endless amount of books waiting to be read. That’s definitely true – scary scary thought.
So what am I even trying to say? Well, the last month has been a rather stressful one for me. School and life circumstances has been challenging me on so many levels that I just haven’t been feeling quite like myself. And during this time, I’ve read – I’ve finished at least one book and given up on two – for different reasons. The first one I gave up because it was different from what I was expecting and although it wasn’t bad – actually is was pretty interesting, I felt resistance towards it and didn’t really want to keep reading. The other book was so dense and interesting that I felt it not the right time to be reading at the moment when my head was drowning in school work. So this was definitely the right book in the wrong time – I plan to get back to it in the future.
I’ve lived by the “50 pages and then choose” motto for a while now – I give a book 50 pages to get me stuck, and at that point I decide to continue or drop it. If I continue, I persevere to the end no matter what. But one of the books I gave up I’d read more than 50p, the other less, and I didn’t feel bad about it at all. Instead I’ve been focusing on other books that I have been enjoying.
I still feel like I haven’t quite gotten across my point – maybe there isn’t one. I guess I’m realizing that it’s not such a bad thing to drop books when it doesn’t feel like the right time or what you are wanting to read now, but on the other hand I think always dropping books because you’re not enjoying it can make you lose out on important and/or useful experiences and lessons – about yourself, about writing, or about something entirely different. A balance is what I’m striving for – and to listen more to my gut rather than a strict rule of reading 50 pages (or even percentage) of a book before deciding, to trust myself but also to question myself now and then.
So, what are your thoughts on DNFing books? Approve, disapprove? Maybe you have a different approach than my 50p border?
Until next time, Happy Reading!