Ooooooh saucy title, controversy… what could this be about?
In the book community online I often see readers of SFF debating about whether they should ‘DNF’ (Do Not Finish/Did Not Finish) a book. They tweet about it, ask other people’s opinions and essentially worry about whether they should put themselves through more pages of bad writing/bad plot/bad characters/lack of this or that etc.
Whenever I see one of these tweets or questions I stop whatever I’m doing and immediately tell them yes, dnf that book!
The thing is, and here’s a great example for myself, if you are having these thoughts then you are clearly not enjoying the book (or possibly the medium you’re reading it through) so why do you have to ask? Fear of missing out, fear of judgement, fear of shame?
I had heard amazing things about The Sword of Kaigen and I really like the culture and way of life that is in Asia so for me it was a no-brainer. I really wanted to read it. Last year I spent about £17/$24 dollars on this paperback, self published book and even though it was double the price of a normal book I knew it was going to be good because of the hype surrounding it from Goodreads reviews and the community buzz.
I got to about 60% before I DNF’d it and I wanted to DNF it before this point but I kept holding on and hoping it would get better. For me, it didn’t. For reasons I won’t go into, I just didn’t enjoy it, didn’t get the hype behind it and felt that essentially I had been mugged off paying double for a book I didn’t enjoy and even felt let down by. (I also DNF’d Elantris this year.)
Now this is not to say that The Sword of Kaigen is not a good book. The ratings on Goodreads and the love it gets from the community will confirm it is loved by many readers but for me I just didn’t enjoy it so I DNF’d it. The shock when I put out a video on my booktube last year. Easily one of my most watched videos, if not the most, because people just couldn’t get that someone would DNF a book this good.
I think It’s important to note that I DNF’d TSoK not worried about what others would think about me not liking it because I wasn’t trying to fit in anywhere and probably more importantly, everyone is different and we enjoy different things in our books. If however, I had spent time slogging through a book I didn’t enjoy, what would that give me? The knowledge that I fit in with the other people who enjoyed it? Yea maybe but it would definitely give me boredom.
Too many times people are worried about whether they should DNF a book but have you ever thought about how precious your time is? Let’s just have a look at something that can help and might help you put that book down next time.
In your lifetime you might read 40 books a year for 50 years (ages 21-71 and this is a good number because many of us will live past 71 but also many of us won’t always squeeze in 40 books a year with work/family/children/etc).
Now if you take 40 books and multiply that by 50 years of reading them you get 2,000 books. (I appreciate that in this equation people would have started reading before 21, may read more than 40 books a year and will read past 71 but the point remains)
Can you really afford to have wasted one of those 2,000 slots on a book you didn’t enjoy? It sounds like a lot but if you read a lot of books that number will fill up quick. I mean look at your TBR pile (to be read) and see how many series you have yet to even start. Plus the boredom, the unhappiness you get… Life is too short to be wasting your time doing something you don’t enjoy and time wasted reading a book you don’t enjoy is time you could be spent loving a different book! It is not a crime to DNF a popular book.
Free yourself from the paper chains the next time you aren’t enjoying a book and relief will wash over you, giving you the freedom to pick a new book to get into and give that book you didn’t enjoy to a charity shop for someone else to pick up. Sucker.
If you like science fiction and fantasy books then consider joining The Oasis Discord here – it’s free and has a great community, buddy reads, community reads and much more!