Saturday, May 18, 2013

To Finish or Not to Finish


 

Lately I've been struggling with To Be Read pile. Actually that is a massive understatement. "Grappling" or "wrestling" or "being crushed beneath like the pea under all those mattresses" would be more accurate, but let's go with "struggling". Basically, I have bitten off more than I can chew, TBR-wise. Factor in a particularly busy week with very little reading time, and panic has set in.

This is when I start getting trigger-happy with my books. I need to read fast, because I've got so little time. So I'm hoping all my books grab me early and suck me right in, so I can finish quickly and move on to the next book. But sometimes... well, most of the time... it doesn't happen. The book isn't grabbing me. Or the book is just plain bad. I'm on a reading deadline, or I've got a ton of backlogged books, or I just bought a brand new shiny hardback I've been dying to get to. So what do you do?

Do you finish? Or do you give up?



I'm really, really bad at giving up books. I usually force myself through them. Sometimes I stop reading the book that's not grabbing me, go for something else, and come back to the first book some time later. I've got like twenty books on my Kindle that I'm only partially through. Every now and then I come across a book that I absolutely cannot finish, but it's very hard for me to make that decision. Especially if it's a book I've been given to review. Then I'm obligated. They've spun me gold and now I have to give them my first born child. Or something.

I hardly have a scientific process when it comes to DNFing a book. I should, probably. Weigh the merits of x and y and z and how statistically likely it is to improve and whatnot. I'm more DNF-y when I'm particularly cranky or stressed or hungry. It's hard to say what things in books prompt me to commit strongly to a DNF as opposed to my usual just-read-really-really-fast-and-suffer-bravely mode. I can handle shitty writing, characters or plotting (to an extent), but I'm quick to put the book down if I come across something truly offensive. I guess that's my usual to finish or not to finish criteria.

Some days, though, nothing can please me.

But sometimes I feel like I'm betraying the book if I give up on it. Or the author, or the publishing gods, for my own conscience. But mostly, there's a shamefully strong part of me that CANNOT LOOK AWAY from the really bad books. I'm kind of a book masochist. It's almost like they're car crashes and my eyes are glued and the rage is building inside and oh my God so many snarky comments rushing into my head if I don't get them out I might die. And before I know it I've read the whole book. I end up reading the crappy things, and then I get to post angry gifs and ranty reviews, but my head is just a little bit dumber, and I'm no longer sure I made the right call in not DNFing. So. It's always hard to decide whether I should stick with it or not.

And then there are the days where I'm particularly cross and I read the first sentence and just go, "Ugh. The opening sentence referenced weather. The whole book is a catastrophe." But that's rare and mostly just means I haven't had my coffee yet. Sometimes, I really can tell right away that the book and I are not going to jive, or it's an unmitigated piece of crap, or is racist or sexist or something, and I deserve a gold star for making it even five pages in.

 


 So how you feel about giving up on books? Do you always stick through? Are you DNF-happy, meaning do you tend to give up on books a lot or easily? What's the final straw for you when deciding whether or not to stick with a book?

24 comments:

  1. I am horrible at giving up books. I just can't do it. And I can't do what you do either with the whole stopping and moving on to something else but coming back later. Oh no. I have to only read one book at a time and it has to be from beginning to end and I cannot touch another book until it's over. It's horrible! You would think I'd learn to DNF and just get it over with, to save my sanity, but I can't! There really is a sense of guilt that comes with it, and a sad optimism that surely it'll get better... If only that were true. ><

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    1. I wish I couldn't stop-and-start reading. It causes me to lose track of a LOT of books. I need to get better at DNFing for my own sanity also!

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  2. I have such a hard time DNFing books as well. Recently I just DNF'd The Diviners after much contemplation: I had stopped reading it in October at 46%... clearly in MAY it's probably not going to happen but it still took a lot of internal coaxing :P I almost always stick it through, especially when it's a review book. Sometimes I just can't help it though and it's so boring I feel like poking my eyes out BUT I also leave most of my kindle books "?%" read as well, I start a million of them convinced I will someday go back. It's hard for me to do.

    Lauren @ Lose Time Reading

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    1. Oof. I've got some books I started in October/November too. I should probably relegate them to the Never TBR list also.

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  3. I hate not finishing books, but sometimes I have to. I simply cannot read the whole thing; I recently did this with Starcrossed. The characters and the writing were driving me nuts. I don't really have set rules about DNFing....I just quit if it really boring or bad, and I'll usually give it around 50-100 pages, I guess. Once in a while I'll push through the whole thing in hopes that it gets better - Crossed by Ally Condie being an example - because so many people seem to love it. Nice post. :D

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    1. UGH I am reading Starcrossed right now so I know exactly what you mean.

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  4. I think we've talked about this before, but unlike the people who have commented above me, I usually don't have a problem DNFing. If a book is so awful that I can't bear the thought of returning to it, then it's screwing with my productivity and getting in the way of all the other books I need to read. A lot of times, too, if I really want to DNF but think the book might get better, I'll skim a few reviews. If the book looks like it'll still suck, I toss it.

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    1. I know, you're so good at DNFing. I am tres jealous. I sometimes do that, too--check out the reviews on Goodreads of people whose opinions I trust and/or usually jive with mine.

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  5. I know we've only recently truly become friends, one day we'll email or you know text, but seriously this sounds like something I wrote, Chandler.

    I hate not finishing books, but I've become better. Since my TBR list is pushing 500 even with a recent clean out I have to be pickier. I have been good lately at picking horrible books which means a good portion of the way through I'm like "back to the library you go!" Which is weird, when I was in school I'd finish anything and now I'm like PRECIOUS TIME I ONCE DIDN'T HAVE.

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    1. Oh, time. I remember time. Vaguely.

      My TBR is over 500 also, and it's... nuts. That's my fantasy TBR list, though: all the books I've marked at to-read on my Goodreads shelves. But my NEED TO READ NAOWWWWW list is also scary big. That's the one that's freaking me out.

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    2. I haven't looked at my MUST READ NOW LIST because it scares me and I'm in denial. Shocking, I know.

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    3. Heads up. Same Ashley. Phone vs computer responding. ~fancy.

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  6. Lol, I think I can easily give up books easily...like you, though, I usually go back to them. This week in particular has been pretty bad...I have started freakin' 8 books, but have only finished 1 of them. I have a problem.

    Great post!

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    1. SAME. That's exactly what I've done this week. It's driving me nuts.

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  7. It sounds like we're pretty similar! I can't DNF a book to save my life; what if it redeems itself? I'm halfway through, why not finish it? If I DNF this, is it the start of a slippery slope where I DNF everything I don't like? But then I'll only be posting positive reviews, and maybe then people won't trust me!

    It's vicious in my head sometimes, so I just persevere.

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    1. I always hold out hope for even the worst books, and can't seem to give up on them. But then there's a part of me that relishes the bad, so... it's complicated. AND YEAH sometimes I feel obligated to write bad reviews!

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  8. I guess I'm like my sister (I will be deny it if she ever taunts with that fact), but I don't really have a problem with DNF-ing...usually! The only problem I have is after the fact when I think about the wasted five or so minutes that I spent on it or the fact that it sounded so good or that everyone seemed to have loved it except for me. I've been trying to buck up with designated review books (an e-galley or an ARC from a publisher) since I promised them and all, but I owe nothing to library books. But really, it all goes down to how awful a book is. There will always be mistakes in books (well, usually) and I just have to overlook something that agitates me. If it has something like an undercurrent pulling me in still, I'll probably stick with it. If it's boring, doesn't hold my attention, offends me, or what not. HA forget it.

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    1. Hahaha oh, sisters. But totally, everything you just said.

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  9. I've slowly been getting better at DNF-ing books but there's always that little voice in the back of my mind that keeps telling me, "If you keep going, it will get better!" Some books though are so horrible that I just can't. There are far too many more books I'd rather be spending my time with. I don't have a scientific method for DNF-ing either (I know some people have a 50 page rule, but that never worked for me) but I think it depends on my mood because sometimes I'm more forgiving and willing to continue. Most times I'm like that cat and couldn't give a fuck... on to the next book.
    Bonnie @ Sweet Tidbits

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    1. Same! I have that voice too! It is HARD to turn off that voice. I can't follow a 50 page rule either. Books are all so different, and it's too exact.

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  10. I love this post – not only because the video clips sent me into a giggle fit (especially the cat going "fuck this in particular") but I also have had turmoil over finishing books. It was only a few months ago when I did the TTT of "books at the top of my spring TBR list" ( and I realized that I wouldn't be reading them any time soon because of all the crap sitting on my shelf) that I made a vow to only read the books I was most interested in rather than the ones I felt obligated to read. If a book isn't interesting me, I put it down. It was really hard at first, but man! - Have I been reading some excellent books lately!

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    1. I love that picky cat. The good thing about letting go of the books that aren't good for you is how much time you free up for yourself to read the good! I'm glad you've been reading excellent books. I need some more excellent in my life.

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  11. I DNF fast. There are too many books I want to read and won't have time to read. I'm not wasting the little reading time I have reading something that doesn't work for me. I sometimes finish something just to see what all the fuss is about (I'm looking at you, The Selection) but most of the time I just put it back down and pick up something else.

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  12. Hahahaha, yes. I am with you. Is it also because of BEA? I have to take reading time to get ready for BEA AND I know I'll come back with this massive pile to add, and I'm like Scrooge McDuck drowning in his money. It's a beautiful thing til it kills you, right?

    I am SO bad at giving up on books. But when I do, it's right away. I have to be SUPER unenthused within the first ten or twenty percent, and reviews need to convince me that it will not possibly get better.

    If being hungry made me DNF, I would DNF everything. What can I say? I have a hunger beast that cannot be sated.

    Also, I love that cat gif. Every time I see it, I watch it go around like ten times.

    Actually, pre-blogging, I DNFed all the time. I would pick something up, read a page and be like that cat. Nope. Not this. Not that especially.

    I feel like I'm most likely to DNF something with a stupid dialect or that bores me. Other things I'm like MAYBE IT WILL GET BETTER. Surely it won't keep being this sexist/homophobic/etc. WRONG.

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