What is DNFing?
This post is happening because I’m in the midst of whether or not to DNF? Do you DNF? It’s not really grammatically correct to ask do you “do not finish” or “did not finish”, but that’s the beauty of language and this age of everyone loves acronyms. LOL. But really, do you DNF? I don’t.
I’m not against it, I mean I’ve done it a few times, on purpose. (If I didn’t do it on purpose I don’t count it unless I pick up the book (so to speak) and say yeah I’m not going to read you after all.) It’s hard for me to give up on a book, even if I’m not enjoying it. That really doesn’t make sense, do I really have time to read something I don’t like? After all, there are literally tens of thousands of books, plus, to be discovered by my brain and yours. There are 196 books on my Goodreads want-to-read shelf, and I promise you that list will grow because that list doesn’t include every sequel or installment in series I’ve found and have yet to learn I like.
If I find a new author and I like their work then I’m going to see what else they’ve written. I’m probably going to follow them if I like them a lot. So in the case of Patricia McKillip, I have a lot of back reading to do. No I don’t read every book by every author I enjoy but it’s possible that I could (in theory). Every year hundreds, thousands of new books are published, many are debuts. That means more authors and series to add to my list. Unless I learn how to read a book a day, it’s safe to say I’ll never get to every book I might want to read out there.
So it is I keep asking myself, do you DNF? AHHHHHH! It’s so hard! Even after everything I just said about all the books out there, when I’m reading a book I feel like I HAVE to finish it. There’s a stain in my mind when I see those books I said OMG I can’t do this. What if it got better after I quit? But what if it never did? What if the ending kind of makes it worth it? Then just read the ending. But where exactly is the ending?
My great aunt and I had lunch the other day and we talked about this DNF. Do you DNF my dear aunt? Her answer wasn’t yes or no, but in summary it was yes. She will flip forward a dozen or so pages and if it gets better, great, if it doesn’t she skips to the end and reads the ending. At the very least, you gotta know how it ends right? She agreed, why spend time reading something you don’t like?
When I searched Goodreads’ lists for “DNF” I got 15 results, not all relevant. The top of the list was “The Most Begun ‘Read But Unfinished’ (Initiated) Book Ever” with 2,334 books in the list. The list was created in July 2008, has 653 likes, and 12,383 people voted on the list. The description states that this list is not about books being bad, just really difficult to finish. The book at the top of the list is Catch 22 #1 by Joseph Heller. Next is The Lord of the Rings series. There’s Ulysses, Moby Dick, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, Dracula, The Catcher in the Rye, A Brief History of Time, 1984, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Interview with the Vampire (love that movie), Eat Pray Love, The Great Gatsby, The Origin of Species, and I’m skipping a lot of books on the first page. Little Women, The Time Traveler’s Wife (another great movie), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (my dad read this to us when I was kid before bed we’d gather and listen), American Gods, Gulliver’s Travels, and book number #100 on this first page is The Red Badge of Courage.
There are 24 pages total. Granted this spans 10 1/2 years of people voting and adding books, I’m leaning towards surprise there’s not more! Perhaps I don’t understand the severity of 24 pages of about 100 books… On page 24 we find Portrait of a Killer – Jack the Ripper, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants #1, The Hate You Give (strange as it has a 4.55 star average rating, though I haven’t read or seen it), The Lost City of Z, To the Ends of the Earth, and so many more as I only picked out some titles that sounded familiar to me. While I’m more than curious to scan over some of the other pages, I do not have the time. Do you DNF any of these?
Another list is titled “Books Not On My Shelves That I’ve Started But Could Not/Did Not Finish”. Their description is ” Books not gripping enough or interesting enough to be worth finishing–or adding to a DNF shelf.” There are 68 books and 30 voters, started April 2012. Not so many here especially given almost seven years. The first is On the Road by Jack Kerouac, the second is Catch 22 (again), and the last is Inside Outside by Philip Jose Farmer.
There’s a “DNF” list, “Sorry Couldn’t Finish Reading”, “Books We DNFed In 2015”, “Books you have abandoned this year in 2018”, “Books I Decided Not to Finish”, “Books We DNFed in 2016”, “First Half Good, Last Half Disappointing/Bad”, and many more. A lot of these don’t have many voters, the first list I mentioned was the only one that passed 1,000 books or 1,000 voters.
Then of course there are plenty of blog posts dedicated to DNFed books and the topic of DNF. One blogger, at Sophie’s Corner, writes how she has a hard time DNFing books. It seems we all come back to the fact that there is so little time and so much to do. She created a list of criteria she’s going to use going forward. One such set of criteria I haven’t considered is triggers and explicit content. Do you DNF books for these reasons? I would but I haven’t picked up a lot of books trigger me in this way. I’ve read some gruesome books and taken interest in them but most of the time I don’t read a lot of that. I don’t read horror. But if I happened to pick up something and the blurb didn’t forewarn me so-to-speak but the story bothered me, I think that this is quick reason to DNF.
Book Steff is another blogger who finds it difficult to DNF books. I’m finding more and more that it’s common for people to find this difficult to do. She has a 100 page limit before she’ll DNF a book, more if it’s a chunkster as they call books 450 pages or more in the bookish world. (Of course it could be 500 plus pages depending who you talk to.) She emphasizes that you should allow yourself to put a book down that just doesn’t fit you. Don’t be ashamed. Interesting angle…
The biggest reason I even think about DNFing a book is because I can’t get into it, I just don’t care what happens in this story or to the characters. The reason I even finish those books is because I can’t stand to not finish a book. But it does frustrate me to get to the end of a book and never forge any connection with the characters or the story. If I’m halfway through a book and I still feel like I’m reading something for school, something assigned to me, I get anxious and pick up another book. I will seriously read other books but come to that one again and again reading pages just because I feel I have to and hope I don’t regret it.
While I’ve not run into a lot of books like this – I’ve found some blurbs and reading samples – I will absolutely DNF a book with loads of spelling mistakes (lack of editing) and overall unprofessional writing. If the story reads like seven year old wrote it but an adult did, I’m not going there. Now we’re into a whole other topic…back to do you DNF…
I could go on, there’s much more, so many more bloggers and lists and reasons for DNFing. Maybe we’ll revisit this in the future, but for now I’m going to leave this here. So what do you say, should we create some DNF criteria this year? What do you DNF & why? Or why is it hard for you to DNF?