Why do I struggle to DNF?

thoughts orangutan

I’ve talking a bit lately about how to DNF and books I’m glad I DNF’d, but I haven’t actually got into why I find it so hard. With this discussion, I’ve been wondering if it’s always a mistake to DNF or (equally) if it’s a bad idea to keep going. So I’ve written a list of reasons why I struggle to DNF. Some of these reasons are good… some not so much- let’s get into them…

dune#1 FOMO– this is probably the biggest one for me personally. There are so many books out there that are acclaimed or a BIG DEAL in some way- and I can never quite forgive myself for not liking each and every one of those (ridiculous, I know! but that’s why I’ve powered through books like Dune, despite not liking the writing style from the start) A huge part of me always wants to know what the fuss is about and doesn’t like the idea that I’m somehow not getting everything I could out of books. If this is my sole motivator for continuing with a book I’m not interested in or don’t like, I’m just going to have to learn to let go.

mrs dalloway#2 Because I like to persevere. For me personally, I have a very positive association with perseverance. I like to see things through, no matter what. So, if I give up on a book, I feel ridiculously guilty. It even makes me pick up books again, like  Mrs Dalloway, long after I’ve DNF’d them!

 

lolita#3 The shame– this is kind of a combination of #1 and #2. I feel an overwhelming sense of failure if I can’t make it through a book I’m not enjoying (which is rather silly, since this is a hobby, not a job!) I also don’t like the idea of admitting I couldn’t make it to the end of a book. Thus, I tend to power through, long after I should’ve just called it quits.

 

a separate peace#4 For work/uni– of course, sometimes I am obliged to finish something whether I want to or not. And that kinda sucks, especially in the case of Lolita or even a Separate Peace, but it’s part and parcel of life- sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.

 

NutshellMcEwan#5 So I can review it– this is in part another sense of obligation (though of course I rarely do ARCs and more rarely still dislike them). However, it also comes down to the fact that I take (a twisted kind of) pleasure in being able to drag a book I didn’t enjoy. And how could I review something properly if I haven’t finished it? Of course, I could just review what I’ve read so far or *shock horror* not bother to review it at all… which I actually do with a fair amount of books I’ve finished anyway 😉 (plus, if the reason I didn’t like it is because I was bored, I won’t have much to say regardless!)

magician's guild#6 The occasional book that proves me right. We’ve all been there once or twice: picked up a book, found ourselves hating it, yet *miraculously* just as we’re about to throw the book at a wall or coming to the final act, the book rewards our patience and we end up loving it. For me, the most memorable example was Magician’s Guild– a book I’m still a bit meh about, but a series I’m crazy for! If I’d given up on that, I’d have really missed out (there’s that FOMO again) so with that in mind, I sometimes push on.

bringing down the duke#7 If I really like the concept. This goes hand in hand with the last one. If I saw something in the concept and have faith in the story, then I’m going to have a tough time giving up on it (especially if it was super hyped!) I can keep going as long as I have the merest glimmer of hope (…which is sadly so infrequently rewarded).

 

ordinary men#8 Some books are hard, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. Similarly to #7, I do like to pick up the odd challenging book and that can have its downsides. A book can be tough for any number of reasons- difficult subject matter, complex writing etc. Often, it is for the best that I power through, even if I’m not enjoying it… but then, with books like Ordinary Men and Gulag Archipelago they’re not exactly meant to be enjoyed. And that’s okay- I just have to be a bit more prepared to persevere with those books and remember why I’m trying to read them in the first place.

happily ever after#9 I may have been in the wrong mood when I picked it up. As a self-confessed mood reader, I’ve had this on numerous occasions. And it doesn’t help that I don’t always recognise what I’m in the mood for… or in some cases ignore my mood entirely. Recently, I felt like reading thrillers, but with everything going on I convinced myself I must want to pick up fluffy contemporaries. All this did was make me slumpy (and make me give up on two contemporaries in a row: Happily Ever After and V is for Virgin). What a waste of reading time!

Now that I think about it, most of these are pretty positive reasons to keep going… it’s just those handful of times that I’m clinging to a book longer than I should. I know that if I’m only reading something out of a sense of misplaced shame or FOMO, that’s not good enough. And I have to recognise that if I’m in the wrong mood or it’s just not clicking, I may have to abandon it for the time being (or maybe I should just cut my losses). Ultimately, I have to be honest with myself and DNF for the right reasons.

So, how about you? Do you struggle with DNFing? Why? Or, if you are an experienced DNFer, what are your secrets? Let me know in the comments!

Books I Successfully DNF’d!

orangutan list

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I give myself enough credit for DNFing. No matter how much I tell myself that it’s good to DNF, that life’s too short, that I don’t have to finish everything I start, I still feel like it’s a shameful secret that I’ve given up on something. So today, I thought I’d start working on that attitude by *celebrating* some of my successful DNFs! Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll get better at singing about my DNFs across the blogosphere. Okay *deep breaths*, it’s time to confess boast about my DNFs:

happily ever afterHappily Ever After– Let’s start off with the book that inspired this recent spate of posts- a book I embarrassingly proudly DNF’d in March. In fairness to the book, this DNF in part came down to my mood. I thought right now I needed to read contemporaries… but that just isn’t the case (apparently I’m craving something a little bit darker). However, the reason I read 70% of this and quit was more to do with the fact the story felt entirely unnecessary. I fell in love with its predecessor, Cinder and Ella, because it offered a fun Cinderella retelling. This not only lacks the charm of the original, it also feels like filler.

v is for virginV is for Virgin– annnd this one is straight up embarrassing. I DNF’d this shortly after Happily Ever After, not only failing to learn my lesson that I wasn’t in the mood for contemporary, but also going for a book by the same author (in fairness, I have liked her books before, so I imagined it was a blip). As with Happily Ever After, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this, I simply wasn’t feeling it.

murmur of beesMurmur of Bees– this is definitely a case of it’s not the book, it’s me. I can see, objectively, that this had beautiful writing and strong characterisation. I just… knew immediately that this wasn’t my sort of story. I struggled through about half of it, before realising I didn’t want to do it anymore.

 

to the lighthouseTo the Lighthouse– putting this on here is more like a promise to myself than anything else. As I’ve mentioned before, I never like stream of consciousness and so have always clashed with Virginia Woolf. This was no exception to that rule. A little part of me really thought when I put this down that it wouldn’t be forever. Yet, as I realised after finally completing Mrs Dalloway last year, that would be a BIG MISTAKE! For my own sake, I should leave well enough alone! So, for goodness sake Future Me, heed this list, stop whatever it is you think you’re doing and don’t pick this up- else you’ll make a liar of us both!

wickedWicked– oh man, this was atrocious. I *hated* the writing style and was bored throughout. I can’t actually remember if I made it to the end or not, but I’m counting it because I definitely remember abandoning it on several occasions (and if I did finish it I must’ve skimmed, because I don’t remember it!)

 

mysteries of udolphoMysteries of Udolpho– I picked this up solely because it’s referenced by other famous works… and it wasn’t anywhere near their league! For a book about mysteries and naughty monks, it was a very dull tome indeed. After trying to read a few very dull pages every few weeks, I realised no amount of cool points for reading the book mentioned in Northanger Abbey would make this worth my time. At least I sort of get the joke about people reading this sensational novel (it feels a bit like making fun of Twilight, maybe…?)

otherworldOtherworld– this was just completely meh. Other books have done this story better (try Ready Player One) and with more interesting characters (that aren’t simply obsessed with the length of their nose). It felt like a celebrity cashing in on a tried and tested story- it’s only a pity that they didn’t do a better job of copying other’s works.

 

And that’s all I’ve got! I told you I’m not that good at DNFing! Do you have any books you’ve proudly DNF’d? If so, why did you give up on them? Let me know in the comments!