Not only has it been a bad week in football for me, I’ve noticed something recently that has me even more disturbed. As Aussie Rules football is the number one sport in the West, it’s got to be something big. I’ve found that I’ve been discarding books at an alarming rate of late. I swear, if you looked up ‘DNF’ online, you’d find my picture. My worry was confirmed when I checked out my Goodreads shelf for books that I could not finish – over half the books there are from this year (considering my account is 8 years old, that’s a lot).
Can you let the sun go down on a book without knowing its ending?
So where am I going wrong? Or, is it not me?
I tend to take pride in the fact that I’m pretty darn good when it comes to choosing books I’ll enjoy. You’ll note that most of the books I review get good ratings from me and I’d like to think that’s part of it. (Plus, it absolutely kills me not to finish a book I’ve spent my hard-earned cash on). Even if I finish a book but don’t particularly love it, there’s something encouraging to make me finish. It might be something as obvious as gorgeous prose or the hope that the horrible character gets their comeuppance. But a did not finish? That’s kind of a failure on my part.
Growing up, we’re conditioned to finish our dinner, finish our homework, finish the dishes. In high school and university, we have to finish the set texts even if we just want to throw them out the window because they don’t speak to us. So perhaps by adulthood, I’ve blindly accepted that finishing a book is like vacuuming – you have to do it. And when you don’t, there’s a niggling sensation that you haven’t quite achieved your goal.
I freely admit I’m a sucker for a good blurb and agree that they’re there to entice you to read the book. But my DNFs lately look like they should have been something I would enjoy – for example, Gothic undertones and a publishing setting (not together – that would have been awesome). Maybe I’m lured by internet hype. Maybe I just made a dumb decision.
Maybe it’s not entirely my fault. My two most recent DNFs were slow to start. For one, at 39% I was still getting background on the characters and I was jumpy to see what was going to happen. The other was 26% before I got fed up with reading every sentence twice and then stopping to put it in context. I wouldn’t say I was only a plot driven reader or one that lack comprehension. Both those percentages were significant investments of time – three to four nights of reading! So what was I to do? Turn to Goodreads for the final judgement – is it me, or is it the book?
Interestingly for these last two books, they fit in to two categories: the reader who adored it and the reader who loathed it. Both of them had more than their fair share of 5 stars and 1 stars. So it seemed that I wasn’t in the minority, which was a relief. A lot of people had similar problems and it’s always soothing to know someone else is in the same boat. But I still kind of feel bad (which is why I’m not naming the books) for not finishing them. On the other hand, life is too short for books that aren’t your thing!
How do you feel if you don’t finish a book? Do you feel guilty? Do you name the book on your blog/social media?