Thoughtful Thursday • Do you DNF books?

Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughtful Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Is Fun Again. This week:

Do you DNF (do not finish) books?

Do you call it that or do you call it something else? Do you tell people when you DNF a book or do you act like you never read it at all? How have your DNF habits changed over the years?

Yeppppp. I do indeed, though that wasn’t always the case. I’d just stop reading books and never pick them up again, but there was no conscious decision behind it. I sort of DNFed books before that, but I wasn’t entirely aware of doing so. I don’t mind letting other people know that I’ve DNFed a book. I’m not sure if we’ll include DNF reviews on our blog, since we’re pretty new (I should discuss this with Ren right away >.>), but I don’t see any harm in DNFing books and admitting to it. Why pretend that you never read it at all? If I did that and somebody told me it was sooooo amazing and I should give it a try, I’d have a hard time not awkwardly agreeing to read it and then hating myself for lying to them because lol, nope, I won’t pick that up again. Pretending I didn’t DNF a book is like not telling people you really really hate Brussels sprouts and then having to eat them when they invite you to dinner because it’s the polite thing to do.

Last year I figured I should make an “currently abandoned” shelf for the books because sometimes the timing is just not right and I intended to pick them up later again. And then recently I finally caved in and made a DNF shelf on my goodreads because I was pretty much lying to myself about some of those abandoned books. I’ll probably never pick them up again, so why pretend? I actually think having a DNF shelf and admitting to myself that there are books that I simply won’t ever finish because of reasons is going to help me a lot. And I can still mark as currently abandoned the books that I do intend to read but where the timing was just wrong for me.

Like I said though, I used to sort of DNF before I was aware of what DNFing was and even before I admitted to myself that I wouldn’t pick it up ever again. The amount of those books increased over the last two years (only a little though), but I can distinctly remember two books that I DNFed when I was younger. It gave me quite some grief actually, because back then I believed in finishing all the books and not completing one was a great shame for me.

One of them was a German “Backfischroman”, a novel (well in this case a collection of novels) aimed at young girls. The term (which translates to “fried fish novel”, I kid you not) spans novels for young teenage girls written between 1850 and 1950 and I think that particular time frame may have been why I DNFed it. I must’ve read three quarters of it but the last novel in it was just so boring and plain. Obviously novels from that time would be much more conservative and homely but really, reading about the protagonist in her grandmotherly years (the series started when she was fifteen) was kind of excruciating for little nine-year-old me.

The other one was — don’t hit me, please! — Lord of the Rings. I know everyone and their grandmother loves it but it just wasn’t for me. The general air of boys only club coupled with endless battle scenes just didn’t do it for me. I was twelve at the time, maybe too young, but I don’t regret not finishing it. There are things in life more fun than torturing yourself with a book you don’t like. ;)


12 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday • Do you DNF books?

  1. I’m with you. If it’s not cutting it, let it go. There are too many books in the world to get all down on yourself for it.

    Anyone who hits you for not finishing Lord of the Rings can slap me too. I got about 50 pages in and realized I didn’t know who the majority of the MANY characters I had already met where or what was going on — and more than that, I didn’t care. It just didn’t grab me. And I for sure didn’t want to be taking notes for a book I was reading for pleasure!

    • It was a very slow read for me and I just gave up when there was some kind of epically long orc battle that simply never ended. I totally know what you mean with the note taking. I’ve tried that before with a book I knew I loved but wanted to read it in a different language and eventually I just said eff it all, I’m either going to enjoy this and stop looking up things and making notes or treat this like a horrible assignment and start hating it.

  2. I DNF all the time. I never used to – I’d flip to the end if I had to, just to see – but now I jettison books like someone chucking luggage from a sinking hot-air balloon. I think it’s to do with getting older. I have more confidence in my own judgement, and so much less time, and so many things on the TBR…

    • Hah, I can empathise with that. I’m not quite there yet where I’m absolutely confident in my own judgement (stupid guilt welling up and making me give books I dislike a second chance despite knowing better), but really my TBR thanks me for DNFing when I do it.

  3. Silly Isa, we’ve talked about DNF reviews already. :P
    Anyway, yep, I totally agree with you. I love The Lord of the Ring but I can totally see why other people would find it boring, and there’s plenty of books that I DNF that you loved. Forcing someone to finish books they don’t like is silly, only English (or Italian, or German) teachers would do that, and it’s a big reason why I stopped reading for a few years after high school, being forced to read so many boring books written by boring older men completely drained my interest in reading.

    • I didn’t bother editing, lbr. Also, your taste and my taste happen to clash a lot, it’s a miracle we actually do like some of the same things (aside from Harry Potter, duh). I used to read so much when I was younger before the whole analysing and interpreting and essaying started in high school, and then I just sort of stopped because it wasn’t very fun anymore (also because no more new books because lack of funds and lack of libraries).

      But seriously I feel like you can pick any random school in the Western countries (I just wanted to say commonwealth… Lunar Chronicles, damn you) and 90% (if not more) of their curriculum will consist of books written by boring white men. Preferably old ones. It’s just so frustrating and there was no pleasure at all in reading those books. School, why must you make reading such an abhorrent thing??

  4. Hey I loved Lord of the Rings but it totally isn’t for everyone. So don’t even feel bad. I know a few people who really don’t think it was all that great that are still huge fantasy fans.

    I totally DNF these days but it takes a lot for me to do so.

    • Hahaha, some of my friends would murder me for not having enjoyed (or even finished) LotR, so I don’t like owning up to it due to unnecessary judgement. >.> Not that it’s any of their personal business what I do and don’t like. But man, people…

      • I know exactly what you mean! Some people go all “oh I can’t believe you haven’t read this bla bla bla”

        What I find to be especially funny is that a lot of people assume I’ve read the books they’ve read (in real life of course) just because I read constantly. And what they tend to read are like Oprah book picks

  5. I think I made it through LotR back when I read it (I was about 11, right before the first movie came out), but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it. I totally get why people start it and don’t finish, it can be really boring at times (ents are so slow, I can’t believe I made it through those chapters). Since the movie adaption is done pretty well (and sums up pages of prose about nature in a few shots) I always tell people to try them insteadXD

  6. Pingback: What’s Up Buttercup • April Edition | Words in a Teacup

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