I was commenting on Aralyn’s post over at Paper Addictions & Magic about why people might DNF books when I realized just how often it seems I find myself trying to explain why I don’t DNF. And so I figured, why not just make a post about it?
It seems I’m in the minority with this (nothing new there), so it might be good to have an explanation out there to explain to all the DNFers why us non-DNFers do what we do and force ourselves to finish books we dislike. And of course I’d love to hear if any of you have other reasons or why you do DNF books.
This is actually going to be a brief discussion by my standards, so let’s get to it!
What does DNF mean?
For anyone not familiar, DNF = Did Not Finish. So to DNF is to stop reading a book partway through.
My History of DNFing
Just in case anyone is wondering, I have literally not DNFed a book since… maybe 2013? That was during the time period in which I had drifted away from my bookworm ways, so I really can’t be held accountable for my bookish actions ;-) Seriously though, I tried re-reading both Interview with the Vampire and Catch-22, books I had LOVED in high school, but they just didn’t capture my attention the same, and I ended up accidentally DNFing them. I didn’t mean to, but I put them down at some point and just never picked them again. Since I had already read them, I guess I wasn’t all that worried about finding out how they ended, and that was that. But as I said, since I started reading again in 2014, I haven’t DNFed a single book.
Why I Don’t DNF
– I feel like I gain something from every book, including the ones I dislike, so it’s never a waste of time to me. (I even have a whole post about the good things about bad books!)
– In fact, stopping partway through is what would feel like a waste of time to me because then however much time I already spent reading would be wasted since I wouldn’t have gained anything or gotten a full story. And eventually all those half-books would add up.
– My curiosity gets the best of me. Even if I hate the characters, I want to know what’s going to happen.
– Most books have at least some redeeming qualities that I do enjoy.
– On rare occasions, books actually do get better, and I end up liking them by the end. Sometimes a twist changes the direction of the story, puts different characters into focus, amps up the action/stakes, or makes things more interesting. Or sometimes there’s no real twist but certain things that didn’t make sense or bothered me get explained and I realize they actually did make sense all along. So I swear this has happened to me!
My Overall Thoughts
As you can see, my reason for DNFing isn’t that I don’t know what I like or even that I truly think the books will get better (even though it has happened, I know it’s rare, and I don’t expect it to happen), it’s just that I can’t bear to leave a book incomplete because it feels like such a waste to me. I get that other people would rather waste a small portion of their time rather than waste hours of their time reading a whole book they dislike, but I simply see it in a different way. Once I commit to a book, I commit ;-)
But does that mean I’ll never DNF a book ever for the entire rest of my life? Probably not. There might come a day when I change my mind, or find a book so terrible I can’t go on, or start reading an 800-page book I already can’t stand at page 100. And when that day comes, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it so that you can welcome me to the DNF club!