Tuesday, 27 February 2018

5 reasons you should probably give up on that book you've been 'reading' forever

I have a shelf on my Goodreads account which is called 'DNF' (Did Not Finish) and since the beginning of the year, it's been growing more quickly compared to previous years. Whereas it had roughly 4 books from my 3 years of Goodreads use pre-2018, it's now sitting at a healthy 11 books long. I have officially embraced DNFing and I'm writing to convince you to do the same. Here are some signs that that current read might be better off left unfinished...

You look at the book and your heart sinks

We’ve all been there. We take the book with us everywhere we go in the hope we feel inspired to pick it up (we don’t). We put the book on the bedside table and it stays there for a solid 3 days months. Every time we look the book we think “oh god don’t make me do it”. As soon as I feel like this, I know it’s time to ditch the book because I could be using this time I’m spending avoiding the book in question by reading something I might actually enjoy.

If you do pick up the book, you get angry from reading it

Things that would only mildly annoy you normally, for example a protagonist’s stupid decision, now justify the throwing of a book across the room. Release the anger, DNF the book, and move on with your reading life.

Every time you talk about what you’re reading, it becomes a rant about how bad the book is

A good sign for me when I’m reading a book that is a possible DNF is my partner saying “wow this doesn’t sound like a great book”. If I can’t think of a convincing rebuttal or justification for continuing to read the book, then I know it’s time to put the book to one side.

9/10 the book never gets better

I used to be so reluctant to leave a book unfinished because I always had a small glimmer of hope that it would get better, and that somewhere along the line the book would redeem itself. This rarely happens, and the turning point came for me when I read My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood: I didn’t want to continue reading, but I did want to know what happened so I flipped through to the end and skimmed the pages to grasp the events. This ended up bugging me more because all I could think was “this is RIDICULOUS” and since then, I’ve never used the “it’ll get better” argument.

There are too many books in the world, and you haven’t got the time to read them all

This hurts, and I’m sorry, but you can only read a finite number of books in your lifetime, and the publishing industry isn’t going to put its business on pause for a year to allow you to catch up (I know, I’ve asked). In fact, the number of books being published each year is growing. It’s time to accept that your reading time is precious and who wants to waste precious time on a book that’s less than enjoyable?

Sure, it's not all fun and games. I recently DNFed The Essex Serpent and I feel a bit left out because I just didn't get the hype and couldn't understand why I wasn't enjoying it as much as everyone else. In the past, I've DNFed Agatha Christie books and it's caused a personal crisis because I tell anyone who will listen that she's my favourite author. But it all comes back to unenjoyable books really not being worth you time. So start putting books down when they're only half-finished, and see how it changes your reading life.