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Today I thought we’d take a look at books we DNF, a topic that’s been broached many times before on various blogs but never on my blog. So, while it’s not an original idea for a post, it’s original to my blog and well, you all know I’ll put my own sarcastic and fun spin on it! 🙂
I’ve been lucky with reading and DNF’ing books. The only one I can remember not finishing before I started blogging was The Silence by Tim Lebbon, I didn’t agree with something that happened at the end of the first part and decided that the book wasn’t for me, I’m fairly sure that I had a ‘no fucking way’ moment and even though I was enjoying the book I stopped reading. Last year, while blogging I read a couple of books that I didn’t enjoy but didn’t consider DNF’ing them either.
A couple of weeks ago, I read a book called The Truants by Lee Markham and I really struggled with it, finding it to be the first book that I was seriously considering DNF’ing since I started blogging way back in March of 2016.
I did actually finish the book and you can find my review !!HERE!! if you want to check out my thoughts and why I didn’t enjoy it. It was a real struggle, I couldn’t shake what had happened at the start and the question of ‘do I want to keep reading’ plagued me throughout the rest of the book, I even took time away from the book while I decided if I wanted to finish it or not. The book itself is only 250 pages and I’d already read 50 pages at the beginning. That only gave me 200 pages to get through, which was the main reason why I actually bothered to finally man up, say ‘fuck it‘, grow a pair and finish reading.
Yes, I was also interested to see how the story played out, I admit that. I guess we all have a sick infatuation with putting ourselves through the wringer at times, continuing on with things when we know we shouldn’t. The main reason though was the short length I’d got left to read, I thought at the time that 200 pages isn’t much and I was able to get through it, but if the book had been a hefty fantasy tome of 650 pages and I’d still got 600 pages left to read, then I wouldn’t have finished it, I’d have thrown in the towel, tapped out, quit and failed.
The whole experience got me to thinking, how long do you give a book before you DNF it?? Why do you DNF a book?? And, what do you do with books you DNF??
Firstly, this is a question for you all without any input from me. In hindsight, I’ve come to realise that while those 200 pages in The Truants didn’t kill me, they were longer than I first thought and looking back, I now realise that I could and should have been reading something that I enjoyed! Simply put, there are far too many books as it is without bothering with those you don’t enjoy, ain’t no-one got time for that! Can you say ‘Drew is dumb’ because here I am! Let’s all chant together, you can clap like The New Day and in a similar vein to ‘New – Day – Rocks’ you can use ‘Drew – is – Dumb!!!!
Let’s make this perfectly clear, there’s no shame or guilt in DNF’ing a book, whether it’s a review copy or a book you purchased yourself. You tried it, it wasn’t for you and you chose to move on. There’s nothing wrong in that at all.
So, my fellow bloggers, how long do you give a book before you DNF it or do you finish every book that you read???
Secondly, let’s look at why we DNF books.
There’s a variety of reasons why we don’t finish books, not just bloggers but readers too (cos, you know, bloggers are readers too, I have to make that point just in case any fuckwit is still proclaiming otherwise).
If you don’t engage with the characters then there’s a good chance you won’t finish a book. If you find that you don’t care about their fate then what’s the point in continuing reading about them? Are you bothered if they live or die? Fail or succeed? If the answer is ‘no’ then why carrying on reading the book?
Are you bothered about the story? Is it generic? Stereotypical? Captivating? Engrossing? Do you want to find out what happens? Surely if the book pulls you in with a captivating story then you’ll eagerly devour the pages but likewise, if you find the story generic and familiar (you keep thinking I’ve read this exact story before just with a different title by another author) then what’s the point in reading to the end?
You might lose your eyes:
Going blind is nothing to joke about and I don’t mean that hence ‘losing your eyes‘ and not ‘eyesight‘. What I mean is that you might be sat outside in the sunny weather, reading, maybe bird watching (the feathered variety and not the female) when suddenly, you spot a raven! You might think ‘wow, GRRM has sent a raven to tell me when Winds of Winter is finally being released‘ only for the bird to claw and peck out your eyes. Flying off with your eyes dangling from its beak, to chow down on them when it gets hungry. No eyes = no reading which means you wouldn’t be able to finish the book you’re currently reading and hence, technically it would be a DNF!
If the book is slow paced and nothing much happens you might find your attention wandering, or find yourself skimming the pages until the next big event. If the book is slow and laborious and you find it a struggle to get through, then you might well give up.
Each author has their own style, does the author’s writing pull you into their story or do you feel detached from the book? Do you as a reader like an author’s style? If you struggle to connect with the writing style used then you will find the book a slog to get through.
I had a few books from Netgalley last year that had terrible formatting and a few Kindle books over the year’s too, both paid for and free and while it’s only an occasional occurrence in ebooks, the shoddy ghjkhfuckhghfff formatting aashfuckghhh does lower gfhfuckdsghj the enjoyment in gjgdfuckvjiu reading, as I have just proven with the illegible words slipped in (sniggers) between the proper words in the previous sentence and you find yourself struggling to even read the pages with the dodgy formatting. Anyone spot the real word hidden within the illegible babble?? It’s the same in all four!
Grammar and spelling:
For me this isn’t a big deal, I doubt I’d know what the correct grammar was if it smacked me upside the head anyway! I can totally understand how to some people it would be a deal breaker as it can be construed as unprofessional. In fantasy (the best genre) you quite often find the wrong words used (off the top of my head The Traitor Son Cycle which I love suffers from this) and yes, it does take you out of the moment, but it’s not a big deal when you add in a number of made-up languages and words that are incorporated, just mildly irritating. However, for any genre, it is slightly annoying as you question if the book has been proofread.
Voices in your head:
If you hear voices in your head (not necessarily the ones that whisper and tell you to kill people, there are others too, or you might just be possessed by a particularly mouthy spirit that tells you what sarcastic comments to make) then they will influence your reading. If you always obey and listen to them regardless of how crazy their advice and they tell you to ‘stop reading‘ then, you will stop.
Something that transpires in the book:
When reading, it’s irrelevant if you are loving the book or not, you come across an event/course of action by a character that occurs during the story and you completely disagree with it. It goes against your morals and/or beliefs, subsequently ruining the book for you and making you stop reading, thinking WTF?! Really?! Hell no!! Are you fricking kidding me?!
Your time might come to an end. You die, your candle burns out, your light fades, you might be murdered, hit by a train, devoured by flesh-eating ants or piranha, sat on and squashed by an elephant or maybe, just maybe your head might explode from straining to hard on the toilet! Depending on how you lived, you find yourself up above or down below. Though as everything is actually a sin, when my time comes, I’ll see you all chilling with Satan. Where I will be forced to read smut books and listen to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift for all eternity – shudders at that horrendous prospect! But, if you croaked, then you will, unfortunately, be unable to finish the book you were reading, ergo making it yet again, technically a DNF.
Maybe the book just doesn’t pull you in, there’s no hook that makes you want to keep reading and you find the story to be a complete snooze fest. Nodding off to sleep, to wake with a start, finding drool on your Kindle/tablet/book only to try a few more pages to discover that you’ve dozed off yet again and that puddle of slobber has grown!
It’s just not for you:
It happens, you start a book, there’s nothing wrong with it, it ticks all the boxes that make for a great read, only to discover that you’re really not in the mood for it, so you DNF it to come back to at a later date.
Have I missed any reasons to DNF a book??
I’ll throw this one in as a bonus.
Do covers affect if you finish a book or not?
Maybe you have a book that has a truly awful cover that makes you barf every time you see it. You think to yourself ‘time for reading‘ only to pick up the book and look at that cover, barf! Would you be able to read the book if the cover made you sick or would the book end up consigned to the DNF pile?! Obviously, you could just have a sick bucket next to you whilst reading. Or, you could tear off the cover or cover it up somehow, defacing the book…..but could you really do that when creasing the spine is a travesty, would you really deface a book to read it?! 🙂
If you read crime/thrillers that feature a dead body on the cover do you need to finish the book to see if the killer is caught? If you read fantasy and the book features a specific scene, do you read until you’ve got to that scene just to find out what happens? If a book of any genre features a character you like (even if you hate a book you might like a character) do you feel the need to finish so you can find out their fate? Can you tell I added those bits just to pad this section out before I get to the fun stuff!
OK, the fun stuff! If heaven forbid you read smut books, you know the ones I mean, those x-rated books that feature an image of a male with glistening granite oiled abs on the cover (the book cover version of top-shelf booby magazines, only with abs instead of bosoms) do you need to finish the book because ol’ Studley on the front is staring intently at you? You DNF the book and put it away, only for everytime you walk past your bookshelf Studley’s eyes seem to follow you, imploring, begging “why won’t you finish me off? You started, got a grip and then just left it hanging” – obviously I mean the book you dirty minded people! Does a Studley on the cover persuade you that you need to finish him off?! 😉
FYI, yes, I’m fully aware that the cover of a book holds absolutely no relevance whatsoever to whether or not you DNF it! I merely thought it was funny and it amused me! 🙂
Thirdly, what do you do with books you DNF??
I don’t mean, do you throw the book away? Bury it in the garden – out of sight, out mind? Set fire to the book and watch it burn? Or, you could find an exorcist to purge the book, getting rid of the evil spirits found within that are polluting it?
When you finish a book, you write a review, maybe straight away, maybe a few days or even weeks later, after you’ve had time to sort out your thoughts and feelings, but in the end, you will review, it’s part of being a book blogger.
Do you rate books that you DNF? If ‘yes‘ do you point out and make it clear that you only got so far and rate what you read? Or, do you rate the complete book under the assumption that it wouldn’t have improved?
Do you write a full review even though you haven’t read the entire book? Or, do you just offer your thoughts on how far you got and explain the reasons why you DNF the book? If you write a ‘full‘ review for the entire book then, I’d have to ask and question how could you review a complete book if you only read part of it?
Do you post your review on your blog, Goodreads and Amazon, the same as you would for a book you had read? Or, do you just post on your blog or on Goodreads and Amazon instead?
Some people don’t like to be negative on their blogs, they might find a DNF review to be a negative type of post and decide against actually writing a review. Perhaps instead, they just email the author or publisher privately to explain why they DNF the book, keeping it personal instead of public. Would you agree with this? Or, do you think that your blog readers have a right to know why you DNF a book?
I haven’t had to do this yet and hopefully, I won’t. But, there’s always a chance that I will DNF a book as you, unfortunately, can’t love all the books that you read. For me, when/if it happens I think that I’d write a post called a ‘DNF review‘ with no rating and just offer my thoughts on why I couldn’t get on with the book.
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