I am quite critical about some books, because if I’m going to read it, it has to be entertaining. Or at the very least I should have some form of motivation to finish it. That can be because I think it’s funny or smart or that I can learn something from it, but that last one pretty much only applies to non-fiction. Lately, I’ve been DNF’ing (iow: not finishing) quite a few books and I wanted to talk a little about why I DNF books and why specifically these ones.
Ever since forever, I’ve been reading books and trying to finish them, despite sometimes not enjoying them. That costs me a lot of time and also a little bit of my sanity. Because what’s the point in forcing myself to finish books if I don’t like them? I’ve been putting myself through books I didn’t like just because I couldn’t find a good enough reason not to read it. As you’re reading this you probably realize the same thing as I did: not enjoying something IS a reason. And it’s a reason good enough for me now, but it wasn’t always.
I think in the past year or so I would have DNFed so many more books if I didn’t have that pressure to finish books on me. Because whenever I didn’t feel like reading something, there’s this small voice at the back of my mind telling me I need to finish it, because I started it. That little voice expects me to finish it, despite not liking it. I don’t know how I managed to get through books like Great Expectations (aka the boringest book ever), but apparently I was too stubborn to give up.
I used to have this notion that if I started a series, I needed to finish that series, no matter what. If I bought one book in the series, I needed the others. And I’ve kind of let go of that idea, because a) it’s ridiculous and b) sometimes books just aren’t good. I guess my mind is just a weird place and it doesn’t make sense but I think there are probably people out here that relate to this.
There’s this concept in behavioural economics called the sunk cost fallacy, which states that once people have invested in something, their decisions often tend to skew. The value of options (in this case reading vs. not reading) depends on how much you’ve invested already instead of the actual value of the options. You’ve already bought a book, you’ve already read 50 pages, those are both investments you made, so now you tend to continue to read because not continuing feels like a loss. While this makes no sense because continuing reading this book will only cost you more (time) and probably no enjoyment. Like I said, the mind is a weird place.
Anyway, not DNFing books because I’ve invested time is not helping anyone and we should all just read books we love 🙂
Some books I DNFed and why
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
I didn’t finish Invictus, and it took me weeks to finally admit to myself I wasn’t ever going to finish it. I had been “reading” it for weeks, but in fact, I just kept putting it down and not finding the motivation to pick it back up again. There was nothing wrong with Invictus, it wasn’t exceptionally bad, it wasn’t exceptionally good either. Some aspects weren’t really my thing, but for the most part I enjoyed it. But I just couldn’t get myself to pick it up and when I did, I read one chapter and put it back down.
The Right Thing To Do At The Time by Dov Zeller
This is another one of those books that I actually quite liked. The characters were okay and I liked the dialogue a lot but when it came down to the actual story and the writing style, I just found it to be very confusing and forgettable. The premise was great and I had high expectations, but it just didn’t meet those expectations. And after all, there are plenty of other books out there I can read and do love.
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
I read one essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about feminism and I got hungry for more. I found this book on scribt and decided to read it, because I remembered some booktubers recommending this to me when I wanted to read more feminist books. I hadn’t heard anything else about How To Be A Woman, but I knew it was a memoir. I read the first chapter and found it really fascinating, though some of the conclusions the author came to seemed a little rash. I went to goodreads and read some reviews, and saw that the author was actually not a good feminist at all and above all that she’s racist. So I put it down, never looked back.