Thursday, March 9, 2017

Do You Keep Track of Your DNFs?

The House of Leaves - Burning 8
via LearningLark on Flickr
I’ve always considered the right to DNF fundamental to my happiness as a reader.

This was especially true during the summer before eighth grade. I’d just discovered a message board where I could discuss books with other kids my age. I got quite a few recommendations, and I put many on hold at the library. Many were amazing! Many were not. And, with so many books to read, those that fell in the latter category were not finished and promptly returned.

The question of the DNF (Do/Did Not Finish) pile crops up every once and a while in the blogosphere. Some people don’t DNF anything, ever. Some DNF without a second thought. Others give books a chance to prove themselves before DNFing, and certain readers make an effort to pick out books they know they will like, eliminating the need to DNF all together.

It’s a varied practice, but I find that even those who staunchly refuse to DNF have at least one title that proved an exception. Time constraints, serious boredom, uncomfortable materials, and other offenses can really get to a person sometimes. And I said we could name one title, but I’m curious. Do we keep track of all the books we don’t finish?

I didn’t in eighth grade. I didn’t even like keeping track of the books I did read. I have no idea what I gave up on—but that’s okay. The books I tossed out then probably wouldn’t mean much more to me now.

I did end up adding a DNF page to my reading log in 2015—I wanted to remember that I’d tried The Young Elites and didn’t like it. I didn’t give it much thought after that. I added one other book over the next twelve months.

I have DNFing on the brain now, however, because I’ve DNF’d six books in the last four months. What is even up with that? I know I thought I’d like four of them, but here I am, shipping these books off to be enjoyed by some other person while I stare at my list and wonder where I went wrong. Did I overestimate how much I like reading romance novels? Am I allergic to the romantic problems of thirty-somethings? Are they just actually bad?

I don’t know. It is, as they say, a mystery. Still, the fact that I keep track of my DNF’s has enabled me to think about this subject at all. It makes me wonder if I’ll find a pattern, and when my next DNF will show up.

(Hopefully it won’t be in the near future, though. I’m ready for a good read at this point).

 What about you? Do you keep track of the books you DNF?


14 comments :

  1. I wouldn't worry too much. Everyone goes in streaks where absolutely nothing can please them, but then another book comes along and it's freaking amazing. This just means you have a 5-star book right around the corner. :)

    I used to hate DNF-ing, but I think as I've gotten older and felt the pressure of how little time I actually have to read, I've given myself the luxury of being able to toss a book aside without feeling guilty. I'll usually give it at least 50 pages for a truly good shot, sometimes even 100, but no more than that. (Otherwise I will feel pressured into finishing it, lol.)

    I don't know how others feel about this, but I also like to add books I rated DNF to my Goodreads challenge. I feel like even if I didn't finish a book, 100 pages of something I loathed feels like 300, and I should be rewarded for that effort since I could have been reading something more pleasurable. Just my take on it.

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    1. Thanks. :) It can be difficult to get through that lag, though, so I'm glad it won't last.

      I feel you on that one. Especially once a break the half-way mark, I feel compelled to get all the way to the end. I usually stop before that point to stay on the saef side.

      I don't add DNFs to count towards my reading goal, but I do add them to Goodreads. I do it more to let other people know that I had a difficult time with a book. Especially if everyone else is loving a book, I like to think it is useful for people to know it isn't for everyone.

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  2. I don't actually DNF so I'm not much help here! Honestly, though, it's something I'll have to start doing if I ever hope to conquer my TBR (not possible).

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    1. Yeah, I don't think we'll ever actually conquer our TBRs unless people stop publishing books for a while. And I realize DNFing isn't for everyone, but thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  3. You know, I never thought about it before. I keep a track of my DNFs with Goodreads. I think my reasons are the same as yours, I'm really just curious to see a pattern in the books I DNF. On the other hand, how do you decide which books are resolutely DNF? Maybe when we stop committing? Some books I've barely read over the course of three years but I haven't marked them DNF. Haven't lost hope quite yet. :')

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    1. Maybe we'll understand some great truth about ourselves in the end, eh? Maybe, maybe not. When I write down my DNFs, I do write down whether or not I want to try reading them again. Some of them are too long to fit into my schedule at the time I get them, or I might appreciate them more with a little more life experience. It's okay to keep the flame for some books!

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  4. I do keep track, though I don't usually count books that I put down after the first few pages. If I've read a couple chapters and still couldn't get into it I'll officially count it as unfinished. This was something that used to bug me a lot until I got to college and realized that I just don't have the time to waste on books I don't like.

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    1. That's true, and a good distinction to make. But that's fair—I know that college makes it difficult to get reading for fun into the schedule. It's disappointing, man.

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  5. I've never actively tracked DNF books. It's kind of rare for me to not finish a book once started, unless it really hasn't grabbed me within the first 10-ish chapters or so (I guess I try to be optimistic about the book turning out to be a good one?). I DNF books for different reasons, and if it's one I never plan to pick up again, I usually remember it—so I guess that's technically tracking, but in a more passive way. I'm not sure there's a pattern to DNF books for me though.

    Hopefully your next reads will be great ones!

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    1. If you don't have many DNF books, I'm sure that the ones you do will be easy to remember—especially if their awfulness overcame your indomitable optimism! Those of us who are not nearly so positive may not have that much brain space, though.

      Thanks, Jamie!

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  6. I'd never not finished a book, so I had no reason to keep ta DNF list. All of that has changed. I now have a every reason for that list. I find many books I just can't finish and for many reasons: really bad prose, grammar errors and stories that seem to go nowhere. . .fast or are so like others in the category that I feel as if I've already read the book.

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    1. The reasons we stop reading are certainly diverse and varied. It's okay to stop for any reason, though, and I know that I've wanted a book that's a little more "new" than others, too. Thanks for commenting!

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  7. I haven't really had a list of books I've DNF'd, because it seems like a lot of work if you're not even going to bother reading it. for me, i try to give the book a chance to redeem itself before absolutely letting go.

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    1. It is a little bit of work, although I use a spreadsheet more than Goodreads, so it takes me personally only about three seconds. Still, it does show that we give things a try. Good plan. :)

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