So, during my time in the reading community I have discovered that there are two types of readers; the ones who persevere and the ones who Do Not Finish. I’ve also noticed that there is some debate about actively marking a book as DNF; I myself have struggled with which category I wanted to be in. When a book appeals to you and you’ve invested time, energy, and money into it the last thing you want to do is give up. Recently I have made the decision to alter my own perception of not finishing books and I thought I would share them here for any other conflicted readers out there!
As recently as a few months ago I refused to not finish a book, and if I really really couldn’t I wouldn’t tell anyone and pretend I was still reading it; that I hadn’t given up. There was a part of me that felt really guilty if I wasn’t feeling it. I felt bad for the author and wanted so badly to keep going in case I was wrong and it did get better; but I also felt bad in myself. I had this weird notion that I wasn’t ‘the reading person’ if I stopped halfway, or even two thirds of the way through; almost like a was a phoney or a pretender. Retrospectively, I know this is wrong, nobody should feel like that. I mean, I never get mad at myself if I turn a movie off before its finished, so why is a book any different?
I believe that it’s because books are more personal. Theres an intimacy with books; the closeness of the pages, the images you make in your mind, the way the words make you feel. In a way the story is yours as well as the author’s. That’s actually when I realised that maybe it is ok afterall if I don’t finish a book. If it is such a personal experience, I cannot expect every single book to connect with me on an individual level. Everyone is different right?
And from there I began to think about it even further. When you browse a book and you put one back on the shelf, you don’t get mad at yourself because it’s just not what you wanted to read, theres no guilt associated with that and rightly so. There should be pride associated with the fact that we’ve tried a new book, a new author, or a new genre because even if we don’t finish it we’ve learnt more about what we do like in the stories we read. We’re expanding our knowledge, our repertoire so to speak. In trying these different books we may discover some things we like; maybe a new writing style, the voice of a narrator and maybe because of that we’ll pick up a different book by that author and fall in love with it. Everything is trial and error in life and books are no different.
Forcing yourself to finish a book you’re simply not feeling just isn’t worth it. Resentment builds and you end up projecting negativity about the book and possibly more; it puts unwanted pressure on yourself and ultimately could be time spent reading a book you actually enjoy. So, my fellow readers; those who persevere I applaud your optimism. To my fellow readers who sometimes DNF; thats ok too because theres always another book for us to read.