There are a number of problems that we bibliophiles come across in our lives but, whilst choosing our next read, which books to take on holiday and deciding wether to colour coordinate or alphabetise our shelves are all daunting tasks, there is no feat as impossible as deciding if we should 'DNF'.
'DNF', though I'm sure you all know, means 'Did Not Finish'. It's a taboo topic and often bare goodreads shelf. Nobody wants to admit they spent hours of their lives on a book only to give up halfway through. Nobody wants to get halfway through a book and not finish it and not be counted towards their reading goals. But sometimes... Sometimes we just have to let go of the tome we thought we would love but actually kind of despise before it ruins the rest of our books for us.
The number one way to get yourself into a reading slump is to continue reading a book you are not enjoying. I'm sure we all know that. But what about the books we are somewhat enjoying but are just...
. . . . . ?
Recently, I was reading The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. I was so excited for it... but, having went from reading a bunch of 100-200 page books to a 400 page historical romance based around the rich, upperclass society of 1899 Manhattan, it was a struggle Oh my goodness. It was killing me. It's just so slow. And confusing. I mean, there's just so many love interests and like... there's having a love triangle and then there's needing to stop reading so you can write a diagram of who likes who. No, seriously. I had to write a family tree of sorts to keep track with who was related to who and who was friends and which person liked that one but that one likes this one who likes this other one that wants the original person and agh.
I did manage to finish the book and it was alright but I seriously think we could have done with about 200 pages less and, in all honesty, I don't have plans to continue the series as of yet. It definitely falls into the older YA category and I think my mum would enjoy it more than me - maybe in two decades I'll want to pick it up again!
I wonder, should I have stopped reading the book? Hindsight shows me that I wouldn't have missed much at all had I gave up on the book and unhauled the whole series but at the time I had no idea if it would suddenly pick up and become the best book I'd ever read. So, that begs the question: should we DNF books? Should we judge books based on the first 50 or 100 pages? Should we spend time on something we aren't having fun with because of the slim chance it will redeem itself in the end? I don't know. We could give up and move on to better books but then spend the rest of our reading lives wondering if we should have kept going or we can force our way through, hoping it will get better and then resent that book for as long as we see it.
I suppose it's an individual choice. I don't have strong opinions either way - I've DNF'd books before but mostly ones I just wasn't getting into at all from the start or realised I wasn't in the mood for, but I've also, as with The Luxe, kept going to finish the book. Sometimes this results in a slump but other times - such as this - I've went on to read another book and actually flown through it.
In a way, reading a long, slow book has helped me kickstart my reading mojo and meant I finished a 350 page book in two days and probably enjoy it more than usual. I guess this does depend on which book you pick up after. Had I went for something that wasn't what I expected or more serious then I may not have had this experience. Or maybe I'm just discovering the genre I love. For years I've been known as the 'contemporary queen' by a few friends though I did claim to love all genres, but lately most contemporaries aren't grabbing me and I'm buying a lot of mysteries and thrillers - so clearly my preferences are changing as I grow as a reader and a person in general (I am 21 next month.. I still feel about 14... help me).
As the darker days of Autumn creep in, it makes sense I'd be looking for darker thrillers, but I'm really just generally enjoying a good ole lighthearted mystery. I'm also stockpiling a bunch of historical fiction for winter but more the Ruta Sepetys type - plot driven and educational, not romance/character based.
Being a reader is weird. When you officially start seeing yourself as one - when people start to know you because of your love of books and obsessive collecting of them - it becomes more than a hobby. It's a lifestyle. You realise just how many books there are in the world and just how little you can actually read - even if you read every second of every day. We pressure ourselves to read the best books but also to read as many as we can - and that's great. But I think we get so hung up on this fact that when we start a book and spend maybe an hour reading it and only managing 50 pages or 100 because we aren't enjoying it we get upset. We've spent valuable reading time on a book we aren't liking. But if we give it up those pages have been for nothing. If we put it on our DNF shelf then goodreads won't accept those pages in our end of year stats.
But the thing is, reading 50 pages and throwing the book away from our lives isn't a waste. It's teaching us more than a book we are liking can do. It's teaching us about ourselves. It's showing us what we don't like. As an ex-bookseller, when someone asked me for recommendations, it was 100 times easier to show them books which had them coming back to the store and thank me for when they said 'I liked this but I really didn't like this or this'. It helped narrow down options. If someone says 'Oh I like Twilight' then you end up recommending all the popular vampire books - but if they say 'I read The Vampire Diaries' and hated it' you get a glimpse into what they actually want.
Well... This is my least favourite part of blog posts. I struggled with videos as well.. The ending.
I'm doing well at rambling lately. I have so many thoughts in my mind but I'm unable to produce a coherent article at the moment due to my unexplained exhaustion. I know I mention it a lot but it's just what it is. I am so tired. all. the. time. I'm hoping that I can find a way to combat it and then get back into writing and be able to create great blog posts with a good structure and thought process and you know... good writing and grammar. But for now, my blog is a place where I lie in bed and type out whichever words come into my head and hope for the best.
Those of you who read this are the best. Even my mum doesn't hahaha!