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Red House Books is going through a bit of a update!

I've always had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted this space to be but I've been detoured from my path by...lots and lost of other people's opinions and ways of doing things...

I'm committed to this little chunk of the interweb but I've also branched out into other places so! Now it's time to think of Red House Books as more of a hub of all things me! And Me is a hell of a lot of book love!

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Monday, February 18, 2013

My first DNF and what it really means


Did. Not. Finish.

3 simple words that can mean oh so much.

Before I started blogging, I never used these words in connection to my reading. Believe it or not, before blogging, I finished EVERY book I ever started. Meaning, if I read more then a chapter, I read every chapter.

Since I've started blogging my 'stats' have done down a little. What that means is that in the past 4 years I can count on one hand the number of books I've started but haven't finished.

1 was for a tour - it wasn't a book I liked at all and it was actually really really hard for me to pick it up each day. But I did! Until I ran out of time and had to pass it on to the next blogger. I even considered buying it (even though I really REALLY didn't like it) and I think I even had it added to my Amazon cart before logic kicked in and stopped me from paying almost $30 for a guilt trip.

1 got lost in my house for a bit. By the time I remembered it, I also remembered I added it to a recent library donation bag and it was long gone. By the time I remembered to buy another copy...I couldn't remember what the book was!

3 are sitting in my house in a neat little pile. I put them down for various reasons - book marks in place. And even though they aren't my favorite - they will be finished soon.

And...that's it!

Some might argue that these are all DNF books. And I guess, technically they are. But for me, it's not that simple. With each of these 5 books, there was always the intent to finish. Time, money, forgetfulness and laziness don't count. At no time, with these 5, or with any book I've read did I make the conscience decision to STOP READING AND NEVER FINISH.

Can you see the difference?

I know bloggers, and readers who DNF books all the time. Everyone has their own reasons. I mean, there are only so many hours in a day we can spend reading. Shouldn't we be more careful about how we spend that time?

Until recently I thought I was doing a really good job managing this precious time. I know what I like, I know what I don't like. I trust some people's opinions  I don't trust others. I'm careful about what I read. I'm really good at knowing my own mind and I'm really good at knowing when a book isn't going to appeal to me.

But. BUT!

There are so so many books out there and they are coming at me from so many different directions. Publishers and authors asking me to review, BEA and all it's overwhelming glory, NetGalley making it so easy, Goodreads and the virtually limitless access to information and possible wishlists.

Am I still careful? I like to think I am.

But you know what?

I make mistakes! I say 'yes' to a review only to actually start reading the book and ask, 'what was I thinking!'. I pick up a book at BEA because everyone is so excited about it only to bring it home, take a really good look at it and know it's just not for me. I hit that Request button only to regret it the moment the 'You have been approved' email comes back from NetGalley.

Why do I do these things? Because I'm human and I make mistakes and as careful as I am and as careful as I strive to be I will never be perfect.

And what this really boils down to is the fact that I've been spending my time reading...and not always enjoying it. Reading is not a chore. It's source of happiness and goodness in my life.

And you know what?

It's finally happened.

I've been reading a book for the past week or so. My first clue that I wasn't loving it was the fact that it was taking me so long to finish. But I kept reading. I took some notes, I wrote down some thoughts for a review.

And then, the other night I just couldn't do it anymore. I was in the middle of a sentence and I just stopped. And I put the book down and I knew I would never pick it up again.

I didn't consider it beforehand. I didn't weight the pros and cons of the book in my head before coming to the decision that it wasn't for me and I needed to spend my time on something else.

I simply stopped reading.

And I walked away.

I knew it was a DNF book and it was a little terrifying  What does this mean for me? Why did I give up so easy? Why can't I just MAKE myself finish this book?

It took me a while to figure it all out but you know what? I didn't fail at anything.

I made the choice to read a book and I made a choice to stop reading a book. It's really as simple as that.

Am I a worse person for it? No.

Have I shamed myself in the eyes of this book's publisher? No.

Have I tarnished my 'good name' by not posting a review of this book? No.

I've done nothing wrong and I have no reason to feel guilty. I didn't request the book (from NetGalley) knowing I wasn't going to read it. I would hope no one would do that. I did intend to do read and review it and I tried my best and now I'm done. I haven't hurt anyone. I won't be posting about the book and I will let the publisher know why.

And I'm done with it.

And I feel ok.

Will this happen again? I'm not going to plan for it but perhaps it may.

What I have done is open myself up to the possibility of having 'on my record' DNF books. It happened once and it could happen again if it does all will still be right with the world.

I would love to hear your thoughts on DNF books and what they mean to you.

Thank you all for listening :)


  1. Prior to this year, I was in the same boat as you. I wanted to finish EVERYTHING, and if I didn't then I felt bad. Not horrible, but a little guilty.

    This year, I made a promise to myself to not worry about it. Read what I like. If I come across something that isn't working, then put it aside. No harm, no foul. And so far, it has worked out amazing. I don't feel weighed down. And I feel like I am enjoying books again. I am not focusing on them as review or not, just books.

  2. It happens to me quite a bit. I think that's why awhile back I started only accepting eBooks for review. It's a lot easier to admit, "I can't do this." When the author hasn't spent the money to send me a print copy.

    I would rather not finish a book and force myself to read something that isn't working for me then to force myself, get bitter, and give it a bad review.

  3. I do not like to DNF books. Somewhere last year I got caught up with some reading groups reading certain books and I felt kind of obligated to try and read the books even though they did not compel me.
    After I DNF 5 of them I decided to be more careful with choosing my books and not picking up books I actually do not want to read anymore.

  4. Since I only recommend books on my blog, as opposed to reviewing books, there are plenty of DNFs for me these days.

    I try my best to read with the mindset/eyes of a book's intended audience, so if it starts to fall flat, I just give it up.

    There's no way that I'd ask a teen to spend their precious time (and their own/parents' money) on a book that's only so-so. That's why my Policies page states outright that I never guarantee that I will write up a book for BooksYALove, regardless of how I acquired it.

    And besides, life's too short to plow all the way to the end of a book that doesn't work for you...

  5. I feel moderate guilt over DNFing books but I will do it. I have so little time as it is that I can not justify forcing myself to finish a book that I am not enjoying. I probably put down 3-6 a year. Some are review books that I thought would be better than they were, some are book club picks that I just can't get into.

    I remind myself that this is a hobby...and a free book is not "payment" for reading and reviewing it. I do my best to honor the intention of a review book and actually review it, but I make no promises.


Thanks a bunch for visiting :)