DNF-ing Books

Did Not Finish.

To me, that’s the worst thing you can say about a book.  It means there wasn’t enough there for you to get through it.  The plot and the characters and the world and the writing weren’t enough.  Not one single aspect.  As an aspiring author, I think that would be the worst review I could get, worse even than a one-star.  At least a one-star reviewer got through the book.

So I hate DNF-ing books.  Hate it.

But recently, I’ve been doing it more often.

Now, it used to be that I would only DNF books for two reasons.

First, I accidentally picked up a later book in the series, in which case, oops, put you aside until I read the books that come before you and then I’ll come back to you.  Unless I get through the first book and say nope not continuing that.  In which case, I didn’t feel too guilty.

Second, was for the reasons I listed above: nothing about the book appealed to me in any way, shape, or form, and it was just so boring or unappealing or offensive that I literally could not sit down with it.  If I began to dread reading a book, that was a sure sign that it would end up unfinished.  In which case, I felt horribly guilty.  Especially when the book in question was something I’d been assured I would like.

Now, older and hopefully wiser, I’ve managed to accept that not all books appeal to all people.  And it’s not a crime to DNF a book that doesn’t appeal to you, especially when you’ve got a TBR list that’s a hundred books long and growing, because really, there’s only so much time in the world.

What is a crime is trash-talking that DNF’d book.

There’s a difference between critiquing and trash-talking, and most people are good about sticking to the first.  But saying ‘I hate this book it’s a horrible book nobody should read it how did it get published’ is not critique, it is trash-talking.

Critique is saying why you didn’t like it, so that other people can go, ‘okay, those are things that I don’t like, so now I know not to read this book’.  (It’s also so that the author can learn what did and didn’t work in their book so they can decide what to fix or keep, but we won’t go into that today).

When I DNF a book now that I’ve got a book blog, I try to keep negative comments to a minimum and simply say something like, ‘I didn’t like any of the characters, so this wasn’t for me’ (seeing as I read more for character than anything else sometimes, that’s the most important aspect of a book to me) or something like, ‘this book bored me’.  And if people ask for clarification, either online or in real life, I try to keep it to reasons why I didn’t like it rather than going off on a tangent about how it sucked (because really, a lot of the books I DNF don’t suck – they bore me or give me no one to latch onto).

In fact, I find it easier to keep reading books I hate than books that bore me because that hate propels me to finish.  I think that’s why I’d rather get a one star review than a DNF as an author, because to me DNF-ing implies boring while one-star implies hate, and at least that way I’ve instilled some emotion into the person reading.

Why do you DNF a book?  Do you find it difficult or easy, or does that depend on the book?  And any authors out there, would you rather get a one-star review or a DNF review?

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