EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

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FOR FUN!!! > The DNF Pile - awful or brilliant?

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message 1: by Kellyn (new)

Kellyn Thompson (authorkellyn) | 5 comments Around the age of fifteen, I made a resolution that I would always finish any book I started. The main reason for this was principle -- I was a very slow reader. It seemed like the teacher would assign a chapter for homework, and it would take me FOREVER to try to finish it, and often I could not do it in time (at least not with homework from all my other classes as well -- I hope they've figured out this issue by now). So, out of principle, I wanted to finish the books that all my classmates finished. I also thought if I forced myself to read through the words, I would get faster at reading. This is mostly true, though I am still very slow. Another reason, minor in comparison, is that I love closure, and I hate quitting.

But recently I've seen more and more "DNF" (did not finish) categories on Goodreads and book blogs, and I am thinking, "should I have this, too!?!?!?!" (exclamation points because it is exciting and terrifying for me to consider)

On the one hand, I hate to give up on a book. Books are full of thoughts and ideas that I did not come up with. Even if I hate the plot or the writing or it drags on forever for one reason or another, I truly believe you can learn something from any book and take something from it. But on the other hand...I'm kind of liking this idea of moving on if it's not working for me. Maybe life is too short to finish every book.

What do you think? Do you have a DNF pile? Why or why not?

(Yes, this post is a result of temptation because I am considering DNF-ing the book I'm currently reading.)


message 2: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (catjackson) Yes, I do have a DNF pile. I feel no guilt at putting down a book I'm not enjoying. I read for enjoyment and there are already too many other things that must be done that I don't really enjoy (maybe get a sense of completion from, but not enjoy) that I won't waste time on a book. There are also so many other books I could be reading. I'll be starting my Doctorate next year too and doing plenty of assigned reading, so my leisure reading MUST be something I like as I'll get to do it so infrequently.


message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian | 307 comments Funny you should ask - I just created a DNF tag yesterday. I, like you, hate giving up on books. However, it occurred to me that there have been books that, for one reason or another, I never ended up finishing. Since these books are all sitting in my TBR shelf and not a Read/DNF shelf, my compromise is that my DNF tagged books stay on my TBR shelf with my honest intention to try again sometime. I have not yet encountered a book that is so bad that I drop it with no intention of finishing or trying again.

Similarly, I also have a "pause" tag for books I am "currently reading" that I am taking a break from (usually because the library needs it back before I finish).


message 4: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 702 comments I was in the same boat as you that I love closure and hated the idea of not finishing a book. I am, and always have been, a fairly quick reader so it was especially annoying to me to think that with just a little more time I could just flat out finish a book that was annoying me (which I still do sometimes). But now I have a DNF list that I use fairly sparingly. I have decided that with so many books I want to read in the world, I don't want to waste what little time I do have for reading on books that I just don't like or just can't get into.

But I also agree that every book does have a take-away (even if it's a THIS IS A HORRIBLE WAY TO WRITE!) and some books are worth the "slog". So it is sometimes a hard choice to make and I generally tend towards the "just finish it" side. The first book I DNF'ed was The Liars' Club by Mary Karr - and I always intended to come back to it. I found the narrative voice interesting, but for some reason at the time I couldn't get into it, it was a library book, and I had about 10 other books from the library at the same time so I was like, "I'll set this one aside for now." And that just opened up a new possibility for me. Like, "it's ok to not finish a book!! WHAT?!?"

I only have 5 books on my DNF list so far (which averages to 1 a year since I started it!), but they are each there for a reason and it has allowed me to skip books that I just don't want in my life, either at the moment or ever, and get to ones that I do.

Life is DEFINITELY too short to finish every book. Be free, be free!!


message 5: by Maurita (new)

Maurita (mauritajoyce) | 13 comments I am someone that reads very slow as well. I have only two books that I did not finish. I feel conflicted as I always want to finish what I start especially as it relates to goals and books. However, there are so many good books out there and I want to get to as many as I can before I die. There is no worse punishment that trudging through a book you hate. I want to read books in which I can lose myself. I’m seriously considering creating a DNF list today. Life is just too short!


message 6: by Sj (new)

Sj | 46 comments I'm completely on board with not finishing books, for various reasons.

One I recently experienced was with a book I just felt like I was polluting my mind by continuing to engage with the author's warped one - I choose not to spend my personal time with people I consider toxic irl, so why would I do it with via books?

I also think along the lines of the 'life's too short' theme that a lot of people mention. For me I think life's too much damned hard work to waste time and energy on something that isn't nourishing my mind and being in some manner.

I also think I'm getting better at deciding when not to persist with something - like my radar is getting better at gauging the wavelength the author is on and whether that is something I'm prepared to engage with. And GR has been great for checking out 1 star reviews of things I'm struggling with to see if they tally with my experience so far - often they do and ppl say things like "I kept reading hoping this would improve but it didn't and I wish I had just DNF'd it" ... I am so grateful for those reviews, sometimes :)


message 7: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Life is precious. I don’t spend my free time reading something I know I will hate. I give books an honest try and unless it is part of a challenge I am trying to complete (to intentionally expand my reading boundaries) I am very willing to DNF the book.


message 8: by Marcos (new)

Marcos Kopschitz | 1766 comments Agreed, Melanie.

There are very few books I DNF. I take care choosing, read a lot about books and authors, in newspapers, magazines, reviews in GR an elsewhere. So, when I decide to read a book I am at least well informed and reasonably certain I like or may like the author, or his ideas, or the subject, etc. I never start a book without some previous research. But if it comes to not finishing, no problem at all.


message 9: by Allegra (new)

Allegra | 250 comments As a fellow slow reader, I think there's even more reason for a DNF. Life is short and there as SO MANY good (and/or enjoyable) books. Besides, whether you call it DNF or go with Brian's Pause, the books are still there if you change your mind. The list also serves as a warning to others. If you really want a book out of your life, you can delete it from all of your lists.
I don't have DNF but I have Long-Term Hold, and whether it's because I'm dreading each page or my renewals have run out, I tag the occasional book and write my place in the note. (What I did in school stays in school, but I congratulate and admire your perseverance.) Sometimes I go back, sometimes it gets better, sometimes the break and/or removing the pressure helps.
Alternatively, I think some books are "important" (for social/intellectual reasons), so I'll push myself through, even if that means setting x-pages per week or just letting the book take as long as it takes.
Whatever you decide, do what makes you happy.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I don't DNF books often, but I am starting to do it more. I have DNF'd two books this year so far (The Water Knife and Suspect). I used to read books all the way through no matter what but I believe I have discovered that reading books you hate is a primary cause of the dreaded "reading slump." So now I call it quits whenever I get to a point where I dread picking up the book or when I reach a point that I don't want to read one more single word of it.


message 11: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1055 comments Sj wrote: "... just felt like I was polluting my mind by continuing to engage with the author's warped one - I choose not to spend my personal time with people I consider toxic irl, so why would I do it with via books?

... life's too much damned hard work to waste time and energy on something that isn't nourishing my mind and being in some manner....

whether that is something I'm prepared to engage with."


Sj articulated my reasoning very well. Whether I'm reading for fun, or reading for enlightenment, whether it's short, or long... if it's not worth my time & energy, I stop reading it.

My custom shelf is "DNF/skimmed/reference." That way I can put any book that I didn't fully read on it. And yes, I do write reviews of books that I DNF. In fact, they are some of my most careful reviews, as I am trying to let ppl know that maybe it's not a bad book, maybe it's just me... or maybe it is a horrible book. But I almost never *rate* a DNF book, because there's always a chance that there's something redeemingly wonderful in the part I skipped...


message 12: by Marcos (new)

Marcos Kopschitz | 1766 comments Very good contributions, Cheryl, Kerri and Sj!


message 13: by Tammy (new)

Tammy I think it depends on the DNF book. I've gotten through 400 pages of Don Quixote twice now, but am not willing to concede defeat. I will complete it when I have time. If we're talking about a pure beach read then I couldn't care less if I finish it or not. Catch 22 was really hard for me to get into, but I ended up loving it. Keep an open mind. A book that bores you at 30 might have more meaning to you at 50.


message 14: by Allegra (new)

Allegra | 250 comments Tammy wrote: "I think it depends on the DNF book. I've gotten through 400 pages of Don Quixote twice now, but am not willing to concede defeat. I will complete it when I have time. If we're talking about a pure ..."

Don Quixote is a tough one for me too. It's been a while, but since you've reminded me, maybe I'll schedule in another chunk soon. That's one I would like to finish someday


message 15: by Kellyn (new)

Kellyn Thompson (authorkellyn) | 5 comments Wow, these are great suggestions! I do feel a little bit better (and freer!) about the possibility of DNF-ing the book I'm reading now. I admit that when I was reading through these comments, I was reminded of several books I wish I hadn't wasted time finishing. But I think I'm just not emotionally ready to say goodbye to a book I haven't finished, just yet.

So, for this book I still have 200 pages left in and is due back to the library tomorrow (can't renew it because there is a wait list for it), I will make a new pile fore these books with a short summary of what I've read so far and a note of why I am putting it on hold.

Now, I just have to name it... TBC (to be continued), TBFAT (to be finished another time), OHTL (On Hold Til Later)...???

Yes, I will spend my time coming up with a name for the pile, instead of finishing the book.


message 16: by Jeri (new)

Jeri (jerireads) | 7 comments I as well promised myself to finish every book, finding that in some cases it added to me hating the book more.. (Lady Chatterly's Lover) and not inclined to want to read more of the author. Lolita was another such book, I then after decades passed tried the audio version and found much to enjoy about the experience of the author's story telling. So, definitely create a DNF, it does not have to mean forever. :-)


message 17: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) I have a dnf pile. I also have a wall banger one. A wall banger is a book I finished that made me so angry that I wasted my time it hits the wall.


message 18: by Kellyn (new)

Kellyn Thompson (authorkellyn) | 5 comments Renee wrote: "I also have a wall banger one. A wall banger is a book I finished that made me so angry that I wasted my time it hits the wall."

hahahaha!!! That I can definitely relate to. I have thrown two books at the wall, but not after finishing them. It was right after reading about real science in today's real world but used in a completely wrong way in the novel. It's a huge pet peeve of mine when authors try to force real science to fit their fiction instead of just making it up -- I mean, seriously...it's fiction.

Then, after a huff and a deep breath, I picked the books back up and finished them, anyway. But perhaps that should have been a sign that they belonged in a DNF pile.


message 19: by Melanie (new)

Melanie I am moody reader sometimes. I know I will like a book after starting it but my mood changes and I don’t feel like reading it right then. So like others mentioned, I pause the reading and come back to it at another time.

With 200pages left, if there is not a desire to finish it quickly, it’s okay to DNF. Especially if you predict the rest of the book.


message 20: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) I'm getting very good, the older I get, at DNF-ing a book. But I'm also getting very good at knowing when it's just not the right time for me and said book - when forcing it will not make a good result for me or the book, so i've been known to pick up holds from my library and drop them right back in the returns pile. I'm sure the librarians hate it, but it's probably better than me renewing a book 3 tines in hopes that I will eventually feel like reading it. There are way too many wonderful books in the world to force myself through something.


message 21: by Sj (new)

Sj | 46 comments Renee wrote: "I have a dnf pile. I also have a wall banger one. A wall banger is a book I finished that made me so angry that I wasted my time it hits the wall."

excellent ... I had been pondering a category name for 'books I have read but regret having done so' that was a bit more succinct


message 22: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1055 comments Ella, I doubt very much the librarians hate it. They still get credit for 'circulating' the book, which helps funding. And they very likely understand your motivation... I've done the same thing myself and I'm sure we're not the only ones.


message 23: by Mél (new)

Mél ☽ (wudya_lookatthatcrescent_) I used to take finishing books I do not like as a challenge. Lately, however, things have changed, and my DNF pile is growing bigger and bigger. I think life is already fraught with responsibilities that are pushed down our throats, and books are supposed to be a pleasure, not the opposite.


message 24: by Catie (new)

Catie Currie | 97 comments I'm in the same boat as Kerri. I was going to post my own reasons until I realized that she said everything I wanted to in her first paragraph :P Out of curiousity, what book are you reading, Kellyn?


message 25: by Melanie (new)

Melanie I tell my students finding a good book is a lot like dating. You have to try a few “first dates” before you find a keeper. Abandoning a book early is just part of the searching process. DNF is like breaking up because you realize you’re incompatible.


message 26: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1055 comments Melanie, this is great!


message 27: by Mariana (new)

Mariana | 542 comments I have a great deal of conflict about not finishing a book, mostly in GR, because I can't mark it as read and I won't pick it up again, so it's on the "almost read" pile. What I do is browse them, skip paragraphs or entire pages, going for the conversations and skipping long descriptive and really uninteresting paragraphs. I get the general idea of the book without boring myself.

I dated twice in my life so I don't understand the dating process, dating is not a thing where I grew up but my browsing process is closer on what's commonly done (you browse around and if the person is attractive you go for it :D)


message 28: by Kellyn (new)

Kellyn Thompson (authorkellyn) | 5 comments Catie wrote: "I'm in the same boat as Kerri. I was going to post my own reasons until I realized that she said everything I wanted to in her first paragraph :P Out of curiousity, what book are you reading, Kellyn?"

The Address by Fiona Davis. Several friends have recommended it. It is not a terrible book, and maybe I would have liked it a year or two ago; maybe I'll try it again another time and love it. I'm just not getting into it right now, though.


message 29: by Bethany (new)

Bethany (beth-ever-reading) | 5 comments I have found with some books that I put down, if I pick it back up later sometimes I like it. I remember hating a book but when I went to reread it I actually enjoyed it


message 30: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1055 comments That can happen, Bethany. There are def. books that meant nothing to me decades ago that I now appreciate.

I find that it usually happens the other way around though... there are lots of books I've saved to reread, hoping that with more maturity, experience, etc., that I'd get more out of them... but then it turns out they're bad books and it's not that I wasn't a good enough reader to 'get' them.


message 31: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) It has to be very, very bad for me to give up on a book. In fact, I decied that on Goodreads that if I finish a book, the lowest rating I will give it is 2 stars. Books I can't finish get only 1 star.


message 32: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow | 93 comments I find it very hard to DNF books and will generally persevere with boring or problematic books however, there are two occasions where I will have less qualms about DNFing

1) If the author is outright offensive (Platform)
2) If I can't get on with the style (The Supernatural Enhancements)

Bad story elements I can get over but I know the style isn't going to change so if I don't like it I know it's not for me.


message 33: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Jess wrote: "I find it very hard to DNF books and will generally persevere with boring or problematic books however, there are two occasions where I will have less qualms about DNFing

1) If the author is outri..."


I sympathize. I DNF'ed one book because the author overloaded it with vast amounts of exposition.


message 34: by Shelley (last edited Jun 28, 2018 05:39PM) (new)

Shelley | 109 comments Great question/dilemma. I think the answer varies by person, and even over time with the same person. I used to feel guilty if I did not finish a book. Having given up reading for fun and then returning to it, my perspective has changed a bit. I generally do not start a book unless I really want to read it. However, having finished a few books that left me feeling like "that was a total waste of my time" I have decided that it is perfectly okay not to finish a book. My daughters are huge readers, and I have told them many times that if they do not think they will enjoy something I picked up for them, they do not have to read it. It is okay.

That said, I do still try to finish certain books. For example, I joined this book club to encourage myself to read more classics. So, if I start a classic, I am pretty committed to finishing it, even if it takes quite a while because I am not enjoying it.

I have also found that sometimes a book will just be okay for quite a while, but I end up truly liking it in the end. So, unless I'm nearly bored to tears or find the book highly offensive or have some other strong reason for not enjoying it, I generally will not DNF it unless life just plain gets in the way.


message 35: by Joan (new)

Joan | 7 comments Jeri wrote: "I as well promised myself to finish every book, finding that in some cases it added to me hating the book more.. (Lady Chatterly's Lover) and not inclined to want to read more of the author. Lolita..."

Lolita on audiobook was brilliant. Jeremy Irons did such a great job with the narration. I loved it!

I have never DNFed a book before but I do take breaks from books I cannot really get in to and read something else in between. It took me 2 years and 2 months to finish the unabridged version of Les Miserables, but I did it. I feel it is a personal choice whether you DNF or push through and what works for 1 person does not work for another. Either way, as long as you are comfortable with your reading style.


message 36: by FloorM (new)

FloorM | 9 comments I don't start a book if I don't believe it will be good and usually my intuition is right. It's been very long since I haven't finished a book, but yes it has happened. I don't think it's something you should feel guilty about, it's just not fun to read something you don't want to. I don't have a DNF shelf on goodreads though, it rarely happens so I don't really keep track of it.


message 37: by Karen (new)

Karen (rhyta) | 79 comments I have found it easier to DNF books in recent years, since I have so many I want to read and I realize I am running out of time! Most times I will give it a couple of trys and quit. I think my one good experience with forcing myself to finish a book was Carl Sagan's Contact. The first third of the book was like reading a science textbook and it was so hard to slog through. I actually started and stopped reading it 5 times over a 2 year period. This was a case of being worth the wait after I got to the midway point it got really good and I couldn't put it down. Unfortunately, I have not had the success repeated since.
I keep a DNF shelf just for me to see the titles, maybe I will finish another one and enjoy it...


message 38: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1055 comments I just had trouble getting into Learning the World: A Scientific Romance but am glad that I persisted. I sometimes have to remind myself to not be too hasty when DNFing. Fortunately I did check others' reviews before putting this one down, and enough ppl liked it for good enough reasons....


message 39: by Linda (new)

Linda | 571 comments I used to read books all the way to the end because I felt guilty not finishing a book. But now, if there is one that is just dragging or I just dread picking up, I put it on a DNF shelf. I look at that shelf occasionally and see if there is one I want to try again. I have finished a couple of them.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

If a book is just so poorly written that I can predict what is going to happen by the halfway point then I think it's just not worth finishing. It's totally okay to have a and like because sometimes you pick a book that just isn't flowing with you.


message 41: by Jemma (new)

Jemma (captainjemima) Like others, I used to finish every book I started, but now if I know I don't want to finish it I will leave it behind and move on to something else! No guilt, now. :)


message 42: by lethe (last edited Aug 05, 2018 07:40AM) (new)

lethe | 94 comments I am definitely in the 'life's too short to read bad books' camp.

I have a DNF shelf on Goodreads, but I do not have a (physical) DNF pile.

The DNF designation is for books I didn't finish because I disliked them too much, or because they left me stone cold. Either way, I usually skim through the rest of the book to see if I would miss anything. So far, that has never happened :)

I do not have a DNF pile because I either borrowed the book and could return it without regrets, or I owned it and removed it from my collection.

Books that I feel deserve a second chance because for whatever reason I wasn't in the mood or it wasn't the right time for them, are put on my 'I've started so I'll finish' shelf on Goodreads. My equivalent of the 'pause' shelf :)


message 43: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 702 comments Lethe I am the same about the “pile”. I sell the books I don’t like to a local used book store for points and then trade for other books. It’s the bright side to having owned a crappy book :)


message 44: by ☘Misericordia☘ (last edited Aug 06, 2018 04:42AM) (new)

☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣ (misericordia) | 7 comments I'm all for the DNF. If there isn't one, it needs to be introduced to one's reading habits:
- for one thing, you know you will have to finish the book even if you dream of chucking it from the nearest bridge, so you start reading new things with more restraint and even try to limit to safe topics or you might stumble on something horrible and force yourself to read it in full (!),
- for another, imagine there is a pile of goody-good juiciest books waiting and you, by some evil magic, are stuck with reading something unbelievably horrible or dull or taudry or... ,
- overall, I think it's the 'eat your veggies first' philosophy, which might have been good for us as kids but is not bringing in any positives today.

Bottomline: There rarely are books worth suffering through them.


message 45: by Pixiegirl105 (new)

Pixiegirl105 | 53 comments There have been around 3 books in my life i haven't finished. 2 of them I plan to still finish. I think of it this way...instead of the DNF pile, I just have a pile that I will eventually finish. There are alot of books out there that with maturity got better and I understood them better than when I tried reading them around 12 years old.

Another reason I don't have this list is that I genre hop. Sometimes I might be trying to read western but my mind is craving supernatural and so on. I usually have a considerable amount of books checked out from the library in case I need to switch genres for this reason.

Maybe using the veggie analogy, your mind is craving meat instead of veggies? Or dessert instead of meat. Try going back to them...it just might be you weren't in the right mood....
So I don't have a DNF list.


message 46: by Sera (new)

Sera (seracatty) | 14 comments I used to struggle through books I hated. Because of pride or perfectionism or something else. I just felt like I had to finish them. Until I figured out I was wasting precious time on things I hated and that I ended up disliking every single one of them in the end anyway and they made me lose my joy of reading.
I don't have rules for DNF-ing en it's not like I do it all the time, But if I'm struggling and I can't make myself pick it up and continue... It's eventually going on the DNF pile. Books I want to give another chance later go on the 'on hold' - pile.
If I hate a book that much, it's either just not for me, which is always a possibility or it's just a crappy book and I don't feel like I owe it to anybody to finish it. If an author would've wanted me to finish it, they should've written a better book. I do often refrain from rating them though. Unless I really hate them.


☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣ (misericordia) | 7 comments Pixiegirl105 wrote: "Another reason I don't have this list is that I genre hop. Sometimes I might be trying to read western but my mind is craving supernatural and so on. I usually have a considerable amount of books checked out from the library in case I need to switch genres for this reason." You're a lucky girl))) sometimes my genre hops turn out to be abysmal)))

Pixiegirl105 wrote: "Maybe using the veggie analogy, your mind is craving meat instead of veggies? Or dessert instead of meat."I totally agree with you on that account. This is precisely why I'm reading different stuff and several books at a time! Otherwise my DNF would've been totally unmanageable)

It's just that sometimes I'm tempted to pick really horrible stuff:
Meat or A Clockwork Orange or Snuff or Cows or the most inane ever: You're Sharp Enough to Be Your Own Surgeon or For Married Women Only: Three Principles for Honoring Your Husband or Beat Your Way to the Top: Masturbation as a Technique for Business Success... I've got a whole collection of such trash that I looked at to see just what exactly the deal was with these people :)


message 48: by Kathy (new)

Kathy I’ve recently come to terms with not finishing a book and being OK with it. I have a few books I didn’t finish but in the past I would go back and finish them because I felt like I “should.” In the last year I’ve finally given up this idea and become OK with not finishing a book, just because it’s not for me doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. Also, I’ve been expanding what I read and trying genres I wouldn’t normally read so I’m bound to find books I don’t care for and don’t finish. That being said I never thought of a DNF list and I love the idea!!!!! Thanks for the idea and sharing this topic.


message 49: by Jemma (new)

Jemma (captainjemima) Glad to hear the DNF pile has liberated you, Kathy!


message 50: by Nora (new)

Nora Briggs (abriggman) | 430 comments The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton I cannot read beyond page 58. I cheated and read the last chapter and now I dislike to book more than before. I added my first book to the DNF shelf.


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