Today I wanted to do something new and fresh here on BiblioNyan and chat about not finishing books, as well as share with you some of the books that I have had to DNF (did not finish) recently. Most of these I gave up on due to a horrid reading slump and I didn’t want any negative associations with the book so that I could return to them later. However, one or two of these I had to say good-bye to for the sheer fact that they were wholly unenjoyable; an act that used to fill me with litres of guilt and stress.
One of things that blogging has taught me, specifically biblio-related blogging, is that it’s one-hundred-percent dandy to stop reading something that you are not finding any pleasure in. I used to feel really guilty for stopping in the middle of the book, and as such would force my way through it. In the end, I would find myself feeling so bloody frustrated and put-off by the thought of picking up another book. That is a sure-fire way to kill any passion—seeing it as a daunting chore and unwanted task, instead of a genuine hobby that brings you joy. But then I began to read articles from other bloggers who would share their bookish self-care routine of putting a difficult book aside without hesitation in lieu of something far better. It completely blew my fucking mind.
I still remember the first book that I ever DNF’d. I won’t share the title for it as it was a super hyped book and I don’t want to contribute to it negatively. But it was something that fell so short for me. I was expecting it to be fast-paced with multi-faceted characters and excellent world-building, but it lacked any realm of world-building whatsoever, and turned into a sex-fest of stupidity. Thinking about those articles that shed positivity on breaking-up with a current read, I took a deep breath and put that sucker away. When I started another book, about a day or so later, I felt such a huge weight of regret and anxiety. I would think about the DNF’d title and begin to panic, legitimately panic. A profound feeling of being an inadequate bookworm and blogger began to fill my veins. Man, things had gotten so ridiculous that I would dream about the book sprouting arms and legs and vampire teeth and then coming after my ass for bloodshed. I know… weird as all fuck.
One morning I was chatting with my cousin about this dream and my inherent negative thoughts on what I had done. He laughed his ass off, in my face, until tears were streaming down his own. I punched him in the arm. But his laughter had really put into perspective how unbelievable my sense of guilt was, unbelievably superfluous. It was so damn funny because it was so bloody ridiculous.
Not finishing a book did not make me a bad bibliophile or bookworm. It made a human being who understood that subjecting myself to something that was a bad experience, or unnecessarily harmful, would take from me the one thing that brings me the most joy in life (aside from my cats and Milo, of course, and Sir Betrothed too): reading. It meant that I was placing my mental, emotional, and bookish health first, which is the spice of life, the one that holds all the power of the universe, like Melange (boom, Dune reference).
An argument can be made that if you request a book for review prior to publishing, or if an author/publisher offers you a book for review purposes, and you accept, then you are obligated to read the whole damn thing in order to review it properly; that if you don’t do that then you are being inauthentic, unethical, or some other bullshit like that. Well, it’s exactly that: bullshit, bollucks, gobar. Sometimes the fact that you were unable to finish a book—it was too boring, it had offensive material, had personal triggers, etc.—is indicative of the quality of said book. You are more than within your rights to write a review, or a critique in this case, of why you felt the need to abandon a book. You don’t need to have some complex and intricate reasoning behind it either. It was boring is a total and completely legitimate reason for not finishing a book!
Every reviewer is very different, each one unique with their own reading styles, preferences, routines that all affect the type of reviewer they will be. I’m a brutally fucking honest reviewer who blatantly expresses what I didn’t like or what I loved, even if I am a huge fan of the author or genre. Additionally, I point out that my opinions are my own and someone else may feel very differently than me, which is totally okay. So, depending on the kind of reviewer you are, you may not feel comfortable DNFing books specifically for review, or you may not care to express a reason for dropping a book is pure boredom. That’s one-hundred-percent okay!! My ultimate point is that if you do do these things, then don’t kick yourself in the ass for it because it DOES NOT depreciate your value as a reviewer, reader, and all-around book lover.
The stigma surrounding the act of DNFing books is completely unwarranted. You’re not going to keep watching a film or playing a video game that puts you to sleep, makes you feel disgusted, uncomfortable, or offended, so why should you be obligated to read a book that does the same things? Easy: you bloody well shouldn’t.
In the past few years, since I began blogging and acquainting myself with healthy habits of all sorts, I have found that being able to close a book I don’t like brings me blankets and blankets of relief rather than the stress and guilt it used to shroud me with. Sure, I will still feel bad about it for a short while (maybe an hour or so), but if I find that I cannot stop thinking about the title that I just DNF’d, then that is a sign that I’m not quite done with it and I will pick it back up and keep working through it. I’ve learned to read signs that my mind and body give off, which helps to prevent me from feeling regret or other negatory BS. Nevertheless, if I’m done and if my reasons for being done don’t pertain to battling the Boss Monster of Reading Slumps, I turn my back on it and never look back. I just put on my shades, sip my Milo (or YooHoo) and chase my kitties towards the horizon. If you find that you aren’t enjoying a book anymore, or at all, then you should do the same. Life is too fucking short to waste time on things that don’t bring us joy.
Bloodstar (Star Corpsman #1) by Ian Douglas
This is a military science-fiction novel that I was having a really great time with when I first began reading it, however I was bitch-smacked by the Slump Monster and ended up having to return it to the library without finishing it. However, I did find this book and its sequel at a local used bookstore for a dollar each, and bought them both! I know that I will probably love this duology quite a bit, so I eagerly look forward to the day when I shall pick it back up.
Necrotech (SINless #1) by K.C. Alexander
This is a cyberpunk science-fiction novel that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with. I DNF’d it for two reasons, both of them reasons I mentioned way back at the beginning of this damned post: I was not enjoying it nearly as much as I had hoped, and I was gut-punched by the Mistress of Reading Slumps. I like the world-building and I find the technology to be very interesting, but the main character is difficult to relate to as she’s rather self-entitled and immature. So, one day I would like to try and finish the book. But I’m in no significant rush to do so.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
This is an #OwnVoices British-Punjabi contemporary novel that I picked up because it was an #OwnVoicess South Asian book, and also because the hype surrounding it made me weak and interested. The hype was something that baffled me, after I made an attempt at reading it. I could not connect to any of the characters, even the ones that had some serious family trauma and dysfunction. I think I’m just not the target audience, or my personal cultural experiences made it more challenging for me to relate to the culture clashes and the like within this novel. Since I found myself more annoyed and dreading the idea of reading more of it, I put it aside and haven’t looked back.
What do you think about DNFing books? Do you do it, or not do it? Why so? What are some books that you have DNF’d lately, or considered DNFing?
Thank you so much for visiting me today. Until next time, keep reading and keep otakuing. 💜
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