Let me paint a – probably – very familiar picture for you: You see a book. You read a little bit about the book. You might scroll through the reviews, and see some people raving about it. Your friend tells you that you need to read this book. So you do. You start it. You get 50, maybe a 100 pages in. And you’re just not feeling it.
So you kinda want to quit. But at the same time, you really really don’t want to quit. you might feel this weird sense of guilt. I know I do.
Soooo.. What do you do? Do you finish the book because dangit, you’re not a quitter? Or do you decide that this book that you’re just not feeling, is not worth your time when your TBR is already never ending?
Feeling Guilty About DNF’ing
There are a couple of reasons why you might feel guilty for abandoning a book. If you spend your hard-earned money on it, you want to get your money’s worth! But there is another reason that I find very interesting, and that is that allowing yourself to DNF a book might be an acknowledgement of your own limitations. Especially if it’s some kind of classic that is just hard for you to get through, and you feel like it’s the type of book that you ‘should’ read.
For the longest time, I never DNF’d books. I hated quitting a book. I was not a quitter. I would push through no matter what. Abandoning a book felt like giving up. But gradually, as my TBR pile kept growing and my days got busier and busier, DNF’ing became a little easier. I realized how little time I actually had, and that I wanted to use that time to read books I actually enjoyed.
So how do you actually DNF something, then?
Just like with many things, the first time is the hardest. For me, when I actively decide to DNF a book, I never pick it up again later. That book is done for me. It’s a very different feeling then, let’s say, reading a book, then starting another book and putting the first book aside for a while. Because then I (might) pick it up again later if I’m in the mood for it. When I decide to DNF for good I will often actually give the book away or just get rid of it, because I usually do not enjoy having it on my shelf anymore. And when it’s out of sight, I feel a lot less guilty about DNF’ing!
Something else that has helped me with DNF’ing books is that I give myself a certain amount of pages – usually 50 or 75, and after this set amount of pages I ask myself ‘do I really want to continue with this book?’. If the answer is no, I quit. If the answer is yes, or not sure, I will keep reading, at least for a little bit. The reason I do this is because it’s much harder to abandon a book when you’re already 300 pages in, and I usually feel more guilty because I already spend so much time reading this book, and the time feels wasted.
I proudly DNF books now. I simply don’t see the point in continuing a book if I’m not enjoying it. If I don’t want to finish it. I can move onto bigger and better books that I’ll actually enjoy and that will stay with me forever. I still don’t DNF that often, but at least it’s an option now. And that certainly feels good.