I’ve always found this to be a rather interesting question.
As a reader, when you pick up a book you generally have every intention of finishing it. Very rarely does a book-lover think when they start reading that this will be the book they do not finish. In my life, there have only been three books I did not finish, all three due to poor writing. Only one because it disgusted me to the point of near vomit.
There have been numerous others that I powered through, disliking the entire time I read them. Of these books, I’ve found I occasionally wish I could get the time I spent reading them back. It’s the closest I’ve come to regretting spending time on a book. And generally, unless a book does something horrendously unforgivable I will, eventually (though some have taken me years), finish it.
I will never label a book DNF unless I have every intention of never picking it up again.
I do wonder: what is it that makes us, as readers, decide a book is not worth our time? What makes us decide a book is not worth considering as a gestalt (whole) when we look back on the experience. There have been several books I’ve read that genuinely changed my mind regarding the poor quality I believed it had as I read further. So what is it about some books that bring us to a point where we ultimately give up on them?
I’ve always been of the mind that I will give every book a fair chance to impress me, a fair chance to receive a reasonably well thought out rating and review. I believe I have done a relatively good job with that goal.
If I do not finish a book, it automatically gets a 1 star rating on Goodreads, though possibly a 0 star rating in my heart. I try to treat my decision to not finish a book as an important one, and while many may think that it’s just a book and it isn’t a big decision to decide not to finish one, my desire to respect the authors and the numerous other people who have put their time into making a book, whatever the quality, available for me to read propels me to reject not finishing a book. I may leave a scathing review, I may choose not to read an sequels or other books by that author, but it is rare that I will not at least give them one chance.
To date, the only books I have not finished due to their poor writing and possibly otherwise disturbing themes that removes my respect for the novel and author are Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, Awake by Natasha Preston, and The Game by Terry Schott. No doubt at some point in the future I will update my reviews for those books and explain my reasons for not finishing them here.
So now, I leave with this: what books have you decided not to finish in the past? Why? What do you think we owe the books we pick up and the authors who have written them, if anything at all?
I think about this a lot, and I’ve given my reasons currently for why I’ve read the way I have. The rest, as Lauren Oliver once wrote in her novel Before I Fall (which is a book I deeply adore), you have to figure out for yourself.