The Dreadful DNF

Let’s talk about that thing no one wants to admit to – the decision to not finish a book.

Last week I was really struggling with the 1st book in the Millennium series, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Really. Seriously. Struggling. I kept picking it up, dredging through another chapter or two, and then putting it back down before I ripped my eyeballs out in boredom. Ok, I’m being hyperbolic… But not by much. When I started this blog entry, I was about a third of the way in to the book and found it to be INCREDIBLY boring and uninspiring. Correction, the prologue was intriguing for me. After that, total snoozefest! I didn’t find the characters interesting, there was nothing in the plot pulling me in and making me want to continue reading, and there was entirely too much information about financial journalism (a topic I have exactly zero interest in) that I needed to sludge through in order to get to anything of plot-related significance. So after one last failed attempt, I put the book into my DNF [did not finish] pile.

To clarify, I was not in any way saying that it was a “bad” book or that it deserved a low rating. Obviously, this book appealed to many people since it is an international bestseller and was the inspiration for a very popular, highly rated movie. I had just decided that it was not the right book for me… and that’s okay. It was also perfectly okay for me to put the book down unfinished.

Let me repeat that, because it’s important.

It’s okay to admit that a book isn’t working for you and it’s okay if you don’t finish it.

In the not-so-distant past, I used to force myself to finish every book I started. I would tell myself it was a waste not to make it to the end and find out what happens, since I had already invested so much time in the book. However, the truth is, even if we read a book every single day of our lives from a very young age, we still will not read even a small percentage of the books that are out there; and more and more books are being published every day. The real waste was all of the time I spent finishing a book I didn’t like, instead of reading something more enjoyable. Because of that, a couple years ago I decided I would never again feel guilty about not finishing a book that I’m not enjoying. I have never regretted that decision.

Now in this particular case, I ended up staying in the hospital with a close family member who had a stroke over the weekend. My cell phone was dead and I didn’t have a charger with me (so no access to my Kindle app). All I happened to have with me was the copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo that I had tossed in my purse earlier in the day with the intention to drop it off in a little free library. In between visits from the nurses and doctors, while my relative was resting, I decided to try reading it as a distraction and managed to finish the book. It turns out, this book DID get much better for me and I actually enjoyed the second half. I have already started the second book in the trilogy. However, if I had never finished the book, my life would not have been missing anything. Yes, I would have missed getting to know these characters specifically, but I would have still continued reading excellent books, going on grand adventures, meeting new characters, and exploring new worlds. In short, life would have gone on, and I would have had no regrets.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree with my decision or are you someone who feels the need to finish every book that you start? 


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