Caffeinated Confessions #5 The Art of DNF and Letting Go…..

June 21st, 2013 Kimberly Feature 17 Comments

21st Jun

Caffeinated Confessions

Welcome to Caffeinated Confessions!

I wanted a forum where we could talk about bookish subjects from swoon-worthy covers to the price of eBooks. I will share my thoughts on a different subject each month and ask you yours. In the process, I hope we get to know each other a little better. I made a pot of french roast coffee and have some peppermint tea so grab a cup and let’s chat.

The Art of DNF and Letting Go…

For as long as I can remember, I have read every book in a series, even if after book three it suddenly lost its magic. I have suffered through ghastly standalone books and trilogies, in hopes that on the next page or the next chapter a miracle would transform them into the golden friggin’ goose of books. Why?!? *shrugs and throws hands in the air* IDK. Maybe it’s because I was taught to start what you finish? Perhaps it’s because I am eternally optimistic. Maybe I think a character I loathe will suddenly be transformed into one that will be forever memorable? *rolls eyes* Or, maybe it’s because I believe on page 499 of this 600-page paperweight, that the author will express something so profound that it will forever change my life! Sounds ridiculous right! Well up until about eight months ago, that was how I rolled.

Blogging and exploring new genres has made me change my way of thinking. I needed to learn the art of letting go so that I could grow as a reader. I realized that I didn’t have to suffer and believe me this enlightenment didn’t come easy. What helped was a couple of truly awful books that not only didn’t engage me but frustrated me as well. I was annoyed, rushing and cranky and then one night I grew a pair and threw the book across the room and shouted, “I cannot take this anymore!” Of course, it was an ARC for a new publisher! So before I could talk myself out of it I did two things. Marked it as DNF on Goodreads and wrote the publisher a thoughtful letter explaining my predicament. *then I paced the floor worrying* That contact emailed me back and her kind words and wisdom set me free.  I’ve since learned that the sky doesn’t fall and somehow I can still sleep at night. *well, when I am not up reading until 4 am with my nook. All while singing the mantra just one more chapter That my friends is for another confession*  So YES, I can walk away from a series, an ARC, a book, or a trilogy. *who knew!* I know some of you are going, DUH!!! and others are looking at me with eyes as big as saucers and shaking their heads going, “Oh no! You have to finish it, I just can’t-do that.”

Let me share what happened when I learned the art of letting go and occasionally DNF a book. My reading slumps disappeared and the number of books I am reading each month has actually increased over last year’s numbers. Primarily because the pressure is off.

*runs around naked shouting I am Free, I am Free!!*

By accepting that it’s OK to let go, I no longer feel pressure when reading a book. I can also step out of my genre comfort zone and try something new. Authors and publishers still send me books! They totally understand and appreciate the feedback I give them. Another perk is that I no longer feel pressured (internally) to grab the next book in a series.

So how do I determine when to DNF or let go?

One of the greatest joys to me when reading is the ability to slip into the world an author has created and  I immerse myself in the story. Some books you pick up and within the first few pages you are gone. Others take a few chapters. My general guideline is about one hundred pages. If by then I still haven’t slipped in or at least feel engaged enough to be curious as to the outcome -I let go! It is so liberating! Does this mean I am tossing books that I don’t think are four or five delicious cups of coffee? Nope. I am simply walking away from books I personally cannot connect with and each one has a unique reason. In eight months I have only walked away from seven or eight books and have dropped quite a few series. I did this when I realized as the release date of the next book approached I didn’t really care. It really has been liberating and after the first two, I realized I am OK and the world much to my surprise did not end! In fact, it’s a much brighter place!

So how about you my fellow reader? Are you a skilled reading ninja able to leave a book you do not like? Or do you suffer on waiting for that miracle or words of enlightenment to appear within those mediocre pages? Do you stop reading series or trudge on despite the fact that they are no longer all shiny? Spill the beans and confess your secrets…. ~Confessions of a Book Addict

*What do I do with my DNF books? I do not review books on my blog that I DNF since I do not review books that I haven’t completely read. I do however, post on Goodreads why I stopped reading and place them on my DNF shelf. I also email publisher, author, Netgalley etc and state clear reasons as to why this book did not work for me.*

Copyright (c) 2011-2013 Caffeinated Book Reviewer
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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw and Howler. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Find @kimbacaffeinate on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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17 Responses to “Caffeinated Confessions #5 The Art of DNF and Letting Go…..”

  1. Evie Seo

    152!!! You are kidding me! Do you have some elf slaves to help you read? 😛 I am such a slow reader! I’m on 75 mark.. It’s like less that half of what you read! And it’s so awesome they told you they value DNF thoughts, too – that makes me feel better, too!

  2. Mel

    Learning to DNF took me a while. When I was younger, I always finished a book. No matter how bad and frustrating it was, I finished it. I feel so much better now! It’s not good to force yourself to read a book you don’t like. We are reading, because we like reading and horrible books take away my fun. And you know what, I don’t feel guilty about it. I got a copy from an author and I just couldn’t finish it, so I emailed her and it was fine. This really opened my eyes, because it’s okay to dislike a book. Not everybody loves the same thing.

  3. Shannon

    I recently did this for the first time and it felt SO GOOD. I always tried my hardest to at least skim through the rest of a book I’m having a tough time with and, for the most part, that’s a practiced I’d still like to hold on to. However, for many of the reasons you discussed above, adding a DNF shelf to GoodReads and letting go of a book for once left me feeling so much less guilty than I thought I would.

  4. Lark

    I’ve occasionally decided not to finish a book, and it does feel freeing. But I’ve never quite felt I could do that with a book I had agreed to review, so your experience is both instructive and reassuring. I also like the idea of putting DNF books on a Goodreads shelf but not reviewing them on your blog.

    I can really relate to the reading slumps caused by forcing yourself to read a book you don’t like. Since it appears not to be the end of the world (or the end of a good relationship with a publisher), I think I’ll be a little more willing to DNF in future.

  5. Lola R

    I actually have had the same problem for a long time. At first I never DNF’ed books, while often this meant I was reading books I enjoyed I also had a few books where I truged through. A few months ago I decided that sometimes it is better to just DNF a book. I also keep the 100 pages rule approximately. If a book hasn’t grabbed my attention by then it probably isn’t going to grab my attention. With shorter stories this sometimes can be a bit earlier, but usually around 100 pages. Reading a book you don’t enjoy just takes the fun out of reading. I even made a shelf on Goodreads for DNf books and there are currently are 5 books on it. Luckily only one of those I got for review and had to tell the author I didn’t like her book and it was going to be a DNF for me, that still is difficult for me telling authors I didn’t like their book.

  6. Kat (AussieZombie)

    Learning to DNF was also what got me back on track with reading – I realised that I wasn’t reading because I wasn’t enjoying the books I had on the go and this compulsion to finish everything that I started.

    It is rare that I completely disregard a book forever – there’s only a handful that I’ll never attempt again – instead I put them back on my shelf and maybe one day when I’m in a different mood, I’ll try again.

    I still feel a bit guilty sometimes, but I know the alternative is that I force myself to finish something and then resent it, and that’s not what anyone wants 🙂 it’s awkward telling publishers or authors that I couldn’t finish it, but at least I’m being honest 🙂

    Great post !

  7. kimbacaffeinate

    I read a minimum of three hours a day everyday and I would say read slightly above average as far as speed. Last year I read 250. Some days I finish a book in one day, other times I read a book in two days, it just depends…LOL

  8. kimbacaffeinate

    It is hard saying that, but if you give clear reasons to author or publisher, they understand and appreciate the feedback.

  9. kimbacaffeinate

    So true Kat and I have a few that I think I was put off just by my mood, so those I put back on the shelf. More often it is an ARC I DNF.

  10. Lola R

    I agree, the author who I had a DNF book of, actually understood and I gave a few book 2 stars and usually the author or publisher appreciate the honesty. But still every time I have to give a book 2 stars or a DNF, I feel bad.

  11. Lisa

    Too many good books out there, after all, to waste time on the sucky ones, right?