Kernels of Nonsense, #8: DNF’ing

Kernels of Nonsense (2)So this feature was M.I.A. last Sunday because sometimes life happens, but then you know what I discovered? I discovered that I didn’t feel as stressed about having this feature done on time. So I’ve decided instead of making Kernels of Nonsense a weekly feature, I will now be posting every other Sunday instead. This week I will be discussing DNF’ing and the impact blogging has had on this reading habit.

DNF, for those unfamiliar with the term, stands for “did not finish.” I know some readers find the practice of picking up a book, reading a few chapters, and then deciding not to go any further unthinkable. Others are a little more liberal and will drop every book that doesn’t appeal to them right away.

Recently I picked up The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings with the intention of reading and reviewing it for this blog. The problem was after a couple of chapters I couldn’t go on. I won’t get into the details, but I expected something different than what I held in front of me. Here I had a choice, I could strive forward and hope that the book would improve or I could put it down. I already had another book lined up behind it, so I ultimately decided I wasn’t going to read any further.

There are many reasons I may not finish a book. It may be the story is too shallow, too cliché, or the characters are too insipid or down right foolish. If I put down a book, it’s either because I am hating the first few chapters or I have a very strong feeling there will be a scathing review in my near future. Some books are simply not for me and I know if I continue reading them, it will only result in lost time, a very bad review, and something that might look a little like this:

source: http://matineemoustache.tumblr.com/

If I go more than fifty pages into a book, the odds are I’m going to finish it. If I’ve checked out the book from the library and am not enjoying it, there is a greater chance it will go in the DNF pile, and all traces of its existence will disappear from my blog and Goodreads. If it is a book I’ve purchase and I’m tempted to put it down, I probably won’t. I did after all spend money on it and I’m going to get my money’s worth even if it kills me. However, there have been a few books that I bought and refused to read because they were too awful to justify the amount of time it would take to finish them (for this reason I’ve become much more picky about the books I buy). There are times when I’ll make a library run and come home with four or five books, but will end up only reading a couple. I haven’t come across an ARC that I haven’t finished yet, but I’m sure that day will come.

I don’t really have a problem writing negative reviews, in fact I find I have more to say (or complain about) when I don’t like a book. However, since I’ve started blogging, I have a continuous queue of books at the ready so I’m never without an alternative option. Time is precious when it comes to reading and the older I get in the blogging world, the less likely I am to stick with a book I’m not enjoying. Part of the reason for this is that when I look back on the books I’ve given one-star ratings to, I kind of wish I hadn’t spent so much time reading them in the first place.

I’ve noticed some bloggers have a DNF list. The reason I haven’t made one myself is I feel that someone who has actually read the book is probably a better source than I am with when it comes to recommending it (or in this case, not recommending it).

What about you? Are there a lot of books you DNF or are you a reader who sticks to whichever book you pick up? How long do you give a book before you give up? What reasons will make you put down a book?

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19 thoughts on “Kernels of Nonsense, #8: DNF’ing

  1. Great post. I am one of those readers who will always finish a book even if I absolutely hate it. I can’t leave things unfinished and sometimes when I haven’t enjoyed the start of a book it’s ending really makes it all worthwhile. I’m also someone who only reads one book at a time though so sometimes I can be reading a bad book for a long time!

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    • I can’t read more than one book at once either, which is another reason I allow myself to let go of a book I’m not enjoying because as the saying goes ‘so many books, so little time.’

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  2. Love your thoughts on this post, I’ve felt like this on so many occasions but haven’t braved it on sharing.

    I’m with Charlotte on this one, call it my OCD, but I can’t leave a book unfinished either; unless, of course on that SUPER rare occasion. Like, Looking for Alaska, that was one I threw across the room and was more than proud to have placed it on my DNF list. I have my personal reasons, but I hope to never run across a book like that again.

    See you on Tuesday! 😀

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    • It’s worse when you have spent money on a book and it’s so disappointing. It honestly feel like a betrayal. I didn’t name the book in my post, but there is this one book I didn’t finish and every time I look at it, I want to throw it at the wall. I’m not sure why I still own it.

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        • I tried to read this book before my blogging days (It’s The Poison Princess, by the way), so there is no review. In fact there is only one DNF book in my archive of reviews (Frozen), which I wrote pretty earlier into blogging. I make it sound like I have years of blogging experience, but really it’s been less than a year.

          While I do feel it is important to be honest with readers about which books are worth picking up, I personally don’t feel that it would be completely honest of me to write a review for a book I only read a few chapters of. I don’ t keep the identity of the books I DNF locked in a vault or anything, but I also don’t shout it out to the world. If asked about a certain book I DNF, I will say I couldn’t finish it and if my memory is working that day, I will probably give a specific reason.

          This is one of those blogging conundrums: Am I reading for the masses or for myself? Where is the balance? Do I have a responsibility to read everything and warn other readers? Is blogging for me, them, or both? I think everyone approaches blogging differently and for me, because I love to read so much, I have to make sure I don’t start feeling like it’s a burden because then it isn’t fun anymore and I never want to associate that unpleasantness with reading.

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        • Yes! Reading should never become a burden or a “job.” I remember making that promise to myself, before I started blogging about books; I like to share my personal experience with the books I read.

          I love everything about this post, really, I’m glad I am not the only one who has approached these very questions and thoughts! 🙂

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  3. I kind of touched on this in a post I did a while ago – http://confessionsofabookgeek.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/rant-where-have-all-the-reviews-gone/

    I used to HAVE to finish all the books I started, but since I started blogging I’ve become better at DNF’ing, it still doesn’t happen that often, but I’m much more comfortable with doing it. DNF’ing used to make me feel bad, both for the author and for me, what if I’m missing an amazing book that is just slow to start? If I think that now, I’ll nosy around for a few minor spoilers or more in-depth reviews to see if I’m missing anything. I haven’t done so yet, but I plan to do a DNF post every now and then, not to bash the book, as I haven’t finished it, but to say what I didn’t like about it, because other people may LOVE books with those elements I dislike.

    Rx

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    • The slow starting books for me can go either way: I will stick with it or put it off for another time. I don’t condemn these to the DNF, never-gonna-read-you pile, it’s more like the maybe-someday-you-and-me-can-reconnect-but-I’m-not-going-to-force-it pile. It’s the books whose characters or storyline make me inexplicably angry or frustrated that end up in the DNF pile. A good indication is when you stop reading after a horrible, eye-roll worthy scene and ask yourself aloud, ‘Why am I even reading this?’

      A lot of the books I DNF are the ones I have only a passing interest in, so I might pick it up from the library and if it doesn’t pull me in, I don’t feel so guilty about putting it down. Having an occasional DNF post sounds like a great idea.

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      • Lol I love your description of each type of book – it’s like a “it’s not me it’s you” kind of break up story!

        Luckily, I haven’t had too many of those proper eye-roll, I HAVE to stop reading this for my own sanity, books. But I do have a couple I’ll be doing a DNF post on this month. I keep saying I’ll do it and never get to it, but I have some serious scheduling to be doing this week!

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  4. I won’t read a whole book if I really feel that it misses the mark, if it totally different than I expected in a bad way. Too many books, too little time…
    Another reason is if it is a self-pub that has not been edited properly. I just can’t read a book with many grammar mistakes, punctuation and spelling errors. I just can’t, and won’t. Probably why I hesitate to take on any book that is offered directly from an unknown author to me.
    However, I don’t publish reviews about DNF– I just let them slip away. I keep my blog positive and only give between 3-5 stars IF I write a review. 3= good, 4= very enjoyable 5= awesome. Thanks for this discussion.

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  5. Pingback: Weekly Recap| Sep 14-20, 2014 | Oh, the Books!

  6. I wish I could DNF books! I’m one of those readers who has to read till the end just so I can see what happens! I have occasionally DNF’d books but they have to be really, really bad for me to do that and I find it really hard to do. I just feel like I have to read to the end of the book to say I’ve given it a fair chance because some books get better towards the end.

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    • I admire your tenacity! It’s hard for me to stick to books that I know are not up to par when I’ve got a whole line of books behind it a mile long. Some books do improve, but I feel that if I have to make myself read, it becomes more a chore than a pleasure.

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