January 26, 2015

In Defense of the DNF

I recently read an article in which the writer had recently reached the milestone of 1,000 books read in her lifetime.  I quickly glanced at my Goodreads "books read" tally and saw I was still roughly 150 books away from that mark.

Then I noticed my "to-read" list.  It has a whopping 2,218 books on it.  Granted I barely read in high school but still at this same rate it will take me 70 more years to hit that number.  So you know, I'll reach it when I am 105.

105, people.

This is not including the books that will come out in the next 70 years that I will want to read.  When you include that it quickly spirals out of control and down the rabbit hole.

It is a depressing fact well-known among serious readers that there is not enough time to read all the books, but just because it is well-known doesn't make it any less despairing.

When you think about it in terms of only 2,000 books left to read in a lifetime, DNF'ing books that just are not doing it for you seems like less of a guilt-ridden choice.  I could be reading a book that has swept me off my feet, or I could spend my limited time slogging through a book that I am trying desperately to get into.


I've never been one to feel pressure to finish a book I really don't like or care about, but now I feel even less guilty about DNF'ing a book that I feel simply MEH about, too.  This is not to say that I will never finish a book that I am not 100% enjoying, I will.  Sometimes for the morbid curiosity of discovering whether the book had a point.  The main idea is to ensure I feel the book I am reading is going to be a good use of my limited reading time in this life - I enjoy it, I learn something new, I learn what I don't like, I can give helpful feedback to the publisher/author, whatever.

I still consider between 50 and 100 pages a good enough trial run for a book. If 100 pages in I am still not wrapped up in the story, it's not going to improve probably, right?  And if it loses steam halfway through, I am not going to feel as bad about putting it down then, either.

 I would much rather read more of the books that remind me why I love reading.

Oh!  I will be right back.  I have another book to add to my TBR pile.

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