My 10% Rule When It Comes To DNFing and Why I Follow It | The Dreaded Did Not Finish Discussion

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Paper Bindings | My 10% Rule When It Comes To DNFing and Why I Follow It | The Dreaded Did Not Finish Discussion




When I first started reading for fun, I adamantly refused to put down a book for any reason. 

I may have skim-read through the boring bits, but I’d never even heard of the term DNF. (Did Not Finish)

I’d finally just decided that reading was fun, and the whole concept of putting a book down honestly never occurred to me at all.
At the time I was changing over from reading about 5 required school books a year to over 200 because reading was enjoyable books a year. 

Everything I read was new and exciting to me, even when it wasn’t. I put up with a lot in books then that I never would deal with now.

RELATED: A Quick Look At My TBR And The Truth About Being A Book Hoarder | What Is The Value Of A Star? Ratings Over The Years

But after 5+ years of being an avid reader, I am here to tell you that the perception that you must finish everything you start is a joke.



Reasons why it is okay to DNF a book:

  • You will never love every single book that has or will ever be published. And it is okay to admit that. Not every book is for every person. Never let anyone tell you that it is wrong that you did not enjoy a particular book.
  • Your TBR pile is too large. Why waste your time on books you’re aren’t enjoying?
  • You own too many unread books. Again, why waste your time when there is another book waiting for you, begging you to pick it up?
  • Reading slumps. Personal confession: If I force myself to read a book that is boring me, aggravating me, etc. my desire to read anything at all plummets. If you take a look at my history of reading slumps, anything not triggered by some sort of personal event, was because I forced myself to read ‘wrong for me’ books.
  • Someone out there could be waiting for that book to enter their lives. If you borrowed it from the library, return it for the next person to check out. If you own it, consider donating to the library or a group that needs books. If you have a used book store near you, sell it to them (please do not sell ARCs) and use the money to buy the next book on your TBR pile.



So what is my 10% Rule?

It is very simple and easy to follow, especially since Goodreads tracks the percentage of the book that I have already read: If I am not hooked on a book by the time the first 10% is over with, I set the book down. 

If it is okay for editors and agents to make a decision about whether they want to read more of a book and potentially publish it based upon a few pages, then why shouldn't it be okay for a reader to judge whether they want to read a book in just the same way. 

I always try to give any book I read several chapters for me to get into it, because some books do start off in such a way that makes you question if you've made a mistake in picking it up. The Lunar Chronicles turnout out to be one of my favorite series in recent years but did you know I was tempted to skip it after I read the first chapter? I dutifully stuck with it through the rest of the sampler, and the next thing I know I was at the store with the first two books in my clutches. 

I have been known to stretch my 10% Rule to 15% when it comes to ARCs I have received or books I have requested, because I feel guilty for not enjoying them. For various reasons, guilt is a very hard thing to tell yourself not to feel when someone else is counting on you to read and review a book.

Fighting this emotional response is something I still struggle with today.




Why I Instituted my 10% Rule:


If you push me for an emotional response, I’ll give you one. If you push me for a thoughtful response, I’ll give you one. So, logically, you can assume that if you get my hackles up, bore me to distraction, etc. then you will get a response based upon that.

If I’m forced to read all 300+ pages of a book that I am not enjoying, I have found that my reviews are less helpful than they would be if I just quit reading when I wanted to.

But how can that be, you ask?

People write reviews based upon facts and emotions. You can try to be objective and provide details to prove you points, but books make you have emotional responses. At least, that is what I’ve found with most reviews. 

You like the characters. 
You hate the world building. 
The plot bored you. 
The ship made you shriek with joy.

If you think about it like that, then the conclusion that my unnecessarily more negative emotional state influences my reviews is not really that difficult to imagine. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has been pushed too far? It doesn’t go well.

After all, saying “I hated this book. It was so boring.” Is a lot different than saying, “I tried to get into this book, but the first blah-blah pages where filled with useless exposition and whining characters. *provides examples*”

When people get emotional, we aren’t always as articulate as we need to be.




Things You Can Do To Alleviate The Guilt of DNFing Books



  • Look at your friends’ status on Goodreads. Have they read the book too? Were you alone in your thoughts or did others feel that way? If you need to feel vindicated in your decision to stop, use what you see there to do so. If you need to be reminded that other people will enjoy this book, use what you see there to do that. Scroll through Goodreads, push through your guilt, write your honest review, and then put the book out of your mind. The publishing world moves on.
  • Look at your bookshelves. Allow yourself to be remind of all the books you have enjoyed over the years. Pick up an old favorite and scroll through it. Remember how you felt reading it, and let the guilt fade away.
  • Do something completely unrelated to books. When I need to balance my emotions I grab my phone, blast Pandora, and go for a walk/run. Not only is exercise proven to help you feel better, I find it a great way to clear my mind before focusing on the things I want to focus on. I have bulleted several of my favorite recent posts while on my morning run with my dogs.
  • If you are the type of person who needs food to feel better, I would caution you to be careful how you handle this. Eating to feel better will only leaving you feeling depressed about how many unnecessary calories you brought in, take it from someone who lived that path. You do not want to bury your feelings with food. Instead, bake something or prepare a meal to share with friends and family. You may find that the act of getting together with people you care for is ten times better than eating alone, and you might not even need to eat anything to feel better.

Do not start a new book until you have worked through the emotions that last one had left you with. You will just end up pushing those feelings on the new book, which will in turn push you towards not enjoying that one as well.



Now I Have Some Questions For You:

  • Do you ever put down a book? It is more of a “DNF, I won’t ever read this book again” or a “putting on hold, maybe in the future” kind of thing for you?
  • Am I alone in noticing the number of books I DNF grows each year? I’ve gotten better about picking up only books I’m reasonable sure I’ll like, but I’m also a lot quicker to DNF a book than I used to be.
  • What makes you decide to DNF a book? Character? Plot? Writing?
  • Do you have some sort of guideline you follow, like my 10% Rule, when it comes to DNFing a book?
  • How do you handle the guilt of DNF a book/ARC for review?

6 comments:

  1. Oh this is a great post, and so timely for me personally. I do DNF, but have been pretty unsure about when to stop trying to like a book. I am struggling with a VERY popular book right now. I have put it down twice. I just need to make a decision and stick to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like my 10% rule because that seems to be about where I start to resist reading a book if I am not into it. I tend to give review books a little bit more to hook me in since I know they aren't the finished copies and it is possible what puts me off is taken out of the final copy.

      Personally, if I were you, I'd ask myself:
      *Do I care about the characters themselves?
      *Do I care about the character's struggles?
      *Do I care about the plot itself? It is interesting? Does it captivate my attention or do I find myself more away of my physical surroundings instead of what is happening in the book?
      *Does the writing bore me? Confuse me? Aggravate me?

      And perhaps the most important question of all: (some variation of the following)
      *If this was the last book I ever read, how would I feel knowing that I spend my time reading it?

      I think the more honest you are with yourself when you ask some tough questions, the more okay you'll be accepting the fact you want to put a book down.

      I never found a single book that everyone in the world likes, and I don't think there is anything wrong with saying, "You know what? This book is just not written for me."

      Hope you can make a decision you are happy with.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Delete
  2. Man, I really needed this post. I've actually only officially DNF'd ONE book. Under the Dome -- because it was like 92389203829 pages and I was so bored. I googled the plot and I am SO happy I didn't invest any more time into that book. However, I haven't been able to do it since. What I do is put books "on hold" and pick them up later. But I do want to DNF (that's odd to say) haha There are a lot of books that I force myself through and I can definitely see the difference in reviews and my overall mood.

    I'll definitely be using some of these tips. I might try out 20% instead of 10% though :) Thanks for this!

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many years ago, when I first joined Goodreads, I'd add all my currently reading books to the currently reading shelf and leave them there until I finished with them. Sometimes, it took me a while to get to them. I don't think that's all that different from having and "on hold" shelf that I see so many people have nowadays.

      Sometimes I think separating yourself from a book or series helps you accept how you feel about it. There are many books I was on the fence about but added the next book in the series to my TBR and planned to buy them. But this past year when I purged my Goodreads TBR shelves and organized them, I was able to use that distance to remove a lot of them because I found out which one I truly cared for and which ones I didn't.

      In my reply to the previous comment, I shared this thought and think it might help you too:
      "Personally, if I were you, I'd ask myself:
      *Do I care about the characters themselves?
      *Do I care about the character's struggles?
      *Do I care about the plot itself? It is interesting? Does it captivate my attention or do I find myself more away of my physical surroundings instead of what is happening in the book?
      *Does the writing bore me? Confuse me? Aggravate me?

      And perhaps the most important question of all: (some variation of the following)
      *If this was the last book I ever read, how would I feel knowing that I spend my time reading it?

      I think the more honest you are with yourself when you ask some tough questions, the more okay you'll be accepting the fact you want to put a book down."

      If you try having a 20% Rule, I am definitely curious as to how you'll do with it. I think knowing that it is okay for me to quit a book has allowed me to be more honest with my feelings and thoughts as I read books. I wish you the best of luck in finding a balance that works for you.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Delete
  3. DNF-ing boks is definitely something I find myself doing more frequently as I get older/read more books. I find that I put less pressure on myself to enjoy something if I realize it's not for me, because there are SO many other books out there that I am dying to read. Still, I can tend to get stuck in a book I don't like because I hate feeling like I've wasted my time and I'm stubborn! It's awesome that you've created a rule of thumb that works for you so you don't get stuck in that rut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So far from talking with a lot of people, I think we all tend to DNF more as we get older and read more. It makes a lot of logical sense when you think about it. I definitely support the putting less pressure on yourself when you read. I'm glad you're able to DNF when a book is not right for you.

      I've always wondered if not DNFing books plays a big role in blogger burn out? People always seem to come back saying something like they'll now be blogging for themselves and reading what they want to read.

      i understand now wanting to feel like you've wasted your time. I think that's why I started skim reading books before I would DNF them in the past. I feel that a lot towards review books, but also books I've spent money one. I don't want to waste my time or limited book budget.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Delete

Thank you for visiting and taking the time to sharing your thoughts with us.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...