DNF. The three letters that strike the heart of every reader. Did Not Finish. I know different readers have different rules; some finish every book they start, some give a book 100 pages minus their age, but I just put a book down when I know I’m not getting anything out of it. Here are some examples with the books I paused in 2014 and 2015! And here are 5 things that make that decision for me…
1. Unjustifiable Racism/ Sexism/ Homophobia
None of these things are justifiable in real life. I just want to shut that down right now. However, if I can tell that the racism/ sexism/ homophobia is leading towards a character realising that it’s not right- then it’s a lesson rather than a bad worldview. If the narration, especially third person is okaying it though, then I’m out.
2. No female characters
I DNF’d a book over the summer that had one female character that spoke. One, who within the 100-ish pages I read, said some really disgusting things about a notable female actress. Aaaaand I’m out. Women exist. They don’t have to be the main character but if I’m reading and I’m thinking it’s a weird dystopia where the female population has died and it’s taboo to talk about- no thank you.
This is definitely something I pick up on more than I’m older and actively knowledgeable on the subject. Heck, I missed it the first time reading this series. But it’s also something that’s personal, I have physical and mental health issues so when I’m reading and a book attacks or says something awful about people like me- Nope. I get enough of that from the real world, I don’t need that from my escapism.
4. I don’t like the writing style
Writing style is personal. I don’t like a lot of books that people I love and respect do. It’s not like they like books that are bad. So if someone says they don’t like the way my favourite author writes, I’m not going to be bothered. But if I’m reading a book and the writing style isn’t clicking with me, I’d rather put it down and read something else. As a writer, if someone didn’t like my writing style, I would rather they read something else that they clicked with and made them happy.
5. I’m dreaming of other books
Sometimes when I’m reading, I can’t get my mind off another book. Normally this happens when I try and push myself out of my comfort zone or I have to read a certain book by a specific time. Sometimes I ignore it and it works out well, I get into the book I’m reading and forget about the other, but sometimes it’s a constant niggle. If I can’t get another book out of my head, the one I’m reading isn’t holding my attention well enough and it might be time to stop.
A few of these are bendable, especially with classics that were written in the past where people were awful without the same morals we have now. It’ll bother me, but I’ll give it more leeway. And some are solid. Life is too short for books you don’t enjoy.