Friday, 25 July 2014

Not Finishing What You Started

I've been a reader since I was very young. I've had a library card since before I could walk. There have always been piles of books that were mine.

And though I've gone through some ups and downs with respect to my reading over the years (most notably in high school and university) I've always considered myself a reader.

But it's only in the last few years that I've really been keeping track of exactly what that means. I opened my Goodreads account in late 2010 and from 2011 onwards have been accurately keeping records of what I read.

And maybe it's because this year I've read a lot more (quantity wise) than before. But I'm finding myself thinking often about the big conundrum that is marking a book DNF.

I took some time to puzzle out what was actually going on here--especially because this month in particular I felt like I had a disproportionate number of DNFs. (So much so that I'm planning on doing a DNF round up later this month.) I don't really remember giving up on books as a kid, but I know objectively that I must've.

I'm certainly no stranger to not finishing series that I start. Though, admittedly, that's something I'm trying to fix this year. I tend to go a little first book crazy and then never continue for no good reason.

But interestingly enough, I think that problem is actually more closely related to the whole DNF thing than I'd originally thought.

Why do I abandon books? That's the central question. To which, for me, there are many answers. I'm not in the mood for it at the moment. I can't get into it. I'm bored by it. It feels like a chore to read. I don't want to go back to it. ... Those are just some of the few.

Some people talk about that niggling little doubt in the back of their minds... "What if it get better?" Which is a legitimate concern. I always try to give books at least 50 and sometimes 100 or more pages to change my mind. If I'm still feeling blah, then it's time to let it go.

And currently, I think it all comes back to the fact that I have so many books that I want to read. It's a product of my Goodreads tracking. My TBR pile is massive. Why would I waste my time on a book that just isn't doing it for me when there are so many others that I could be exploring? And, consequently, why would I continue with a series I didn't have strong feelings about when there are others out there? (See, I told you it all came back to the same thing.)

The other piece is that I think I'm actually getting better at telling what books I'm going to like. This has to do with the quantity bit I alluded to earlier. Over the last few years I have read way more than ever before--this year especially. I'm starting to get a handle on my own preferences, as bizarre as that may seem.

Before, I don't think I was very discerning. Everything sounded good. And sometimes it doesn't take more than to flick through a few chapters to realize that this was not what I thought it was going to be.

I'm getting better at choosing books I'm going to like. Sure, some of them hit a less than 3 star rating at the end of it, but very few of them have given me cause to dump them completely.

Which is why it was surprising that I would mark 3 books this month as DNF. Because I guess I thought I'd figured it out better than that by now. Regardless, it wasn't a waste since I'm going to get at least 2 blog posts out of the concepts!

So, what about you? Do you abandon books? Why? What are your criteria? Do you ever come back to books you've put down to try again? Let's chat in the comments!