Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Chuckles Chat #1 The Great DNF Debate!

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

Lets start the New Year with a debate over DNF-Did Not Finish. It's a topic that does divide opinion amongst bloggers and has led to somewhat nasty debates! But of course we are very civilised at The Book Cave so that ain't going to happen! Here are some of my thoughts and remember, these are just my thoughts based on what I do:

Why do I DNF?
OK for me, reading is about enjoyment and entertainment. I want to pick up a book and be transported to other worlds and adventures, join characters on a journey or follow their lives, leaving the real world behind for a few hours. It is important to me that I enjoy each book experience because if I don't, it defeats the purpose of reading and I might as well get depressed watching the news. If I am not enjoying a book, I stop reading it. I find it easy to make that decision and just stop if I get bored, frustrated or hacked off with a book.

Should we DNF if we aren't enjoying it?
I can only speak for myself so for me, yes! I have a physical tbr of over 900 books to read. I simply cannot afford to waste time on something I never enjoyed from the start or stopped enjoying as I read. Why should I waste my time on something I don't like when there are other book adventures waiting for me that I might love? I cannot BEAR the thought of ploughing through another two hundred pages of dross just to say I've finished it. When I get bored, I disengage from the book and think about other things and that is when I know it is time to stop. Every minute I waste on a bad read keeps me from a new book!

But you MUST finish it!
Says who??!!! Lets be clear-I understand that some people feel that they must complete every book they start, and I get their reasons for it. It's their choice to do that and if that works ok for them, then great! But I hate it when the Book Police start trying to impose that on the rest of us. Why should I finish books I hate just to please someone else? They are my books, I purchased them and if I choose not to finish them, that's my choice. *stamps foot*

When is it acceptable to DNF?
I don't have a set rule really. As soon as I disengage from the book, I'm done with it regardless of page count or time spent reading. I know some people do 100 pages as a limit and things like that but I just go by instinct. For example, I read a book that had such dreadful language that you were getting f-bombs, b's, c's, and mf's on every line as the characters yelled and swore at each other non stop. A couple of pages of this was enough for me to realise I was going to hate this book so why suffer any more of it? Sometimes I find the start ok but as it goes on, I don't like it and then stop. It all depends on the book.

But it might get better! 
To be honest, I don't care if it does! If I've found it that bad that I'm ready to quit, then I don't care what happens in the rest of it. I'm already switched off from it and I'm thinking about the next book. I get that other readers might worry that it turns into a great read and feel they have to continue in case it does, but it isn't something I'm personally bothered about. I'm not the kind of person who worries about what I might miss if I stop reading! I don't feel guilty if I don't finish it.

You can't review it properly if you DNF! 
I don't personally hold that view. I write my reviews based on my thoughts about the book and you can learn more from someone who didn't like the book than someone who writes a short and gushing review of how great it is. I say WHY I didn't like the book and why I didn't finish it and I give as much info as possible so that other readers can make a choice for themselves. As long as I say why I felt that way about the book, I don't see an issue in reviewing a DNF. I stopped reading it for a valid reason and I have the right to put that in a review. I'm not telling others to agree with me or screaming that they must also DNF!

You have to finish it if the author gave it to you!
This can be a grey area for reviewers. As a blogger I do sometimes review books sent to me by authors, always when they approach me. When I take the book I am agreeing to try it and share my thoughts but if I don't like it I won't finish it. I am not signing contracts to say I must finish it so I don't feel compelled to do so. For me it is no different from snagging a free book that the author has on Kindle. I am not being paid to read it-if I was being paid and had agreed to complete the book before reviewing it, that would be different. 

Am I wrong to not DNF? 
Of course not! Reading is a personal thing and when it comes to whether to continue reading a poor book to see if it improves or stop and find something else, that is up to the individual. If you want to give it more of a chance or start the same book several times to see if you can finish it, that is your choice and you need to do what you feel comfortable with. I do what suits me best by DNFing but it doesn't suit everyone! If you do DNF, stop when you want to, impose page limits if you want to...do what is right for YOU!

So do you DNF? Do you have any rules on when you stop? Do you feel you must finish every book? Do you review your DNFs? Do you DNF books sent by authors, publishers or those received in book tours? Do you feel guilty if you DNF? Have you been given a verbal bashing for declaring yourself a mad DNFer? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

20 comments:

  1. I personally do not "allow" myself to DNF. It's just a personal rule I've made for myself, cos I feel uncomfortable not finishing a book; it feels "neater" to finish and be done with it and be able to say I've read it completely, so that's what I do ;) But it can be hard sometimes!

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

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    1. Being a DNFer isn't for everyone and I understand exactly what you're saying about it being neater. I think the key is knowing what works best for you as an individual and being comfortable with it to get the best from your reading. I think I finished every book I read when I was a kid. Maybe I just lack patience in my older years!

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  2. Man, I sooooo wish I was more like you in this aspect. I just find it really, really hard to DNF and I wish I didn't. I probably suffer some from the "It might get better" train of thought but honestly I don't think that is the whole reason, I just don't know the rest of it. I never think it's wrong to DNF a book and also, I don't see why DNF'ing would mean that someone shouldn't review it. I like honest reviews and I want to know if people I follow do not finish a book because since I apparently have some disorder that prevents me from doing this, it might keep me from picking the book up and getting stuck. On the plus side, I did manage to DNF two books in 2016 so maybe I'm progressing some! Great topic.

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    1. I never thought I'd feel lucky for being able to DNF but I do now! It is nice to be able to switch off and move on without guilt or regret or anything. It's liberating! *grins* When I think of some of the guff I've read over the years I'm happy to be a DNFer! I actually get more out of reading reviews of 1 and 2 stars if they explain their reasons. It's helped me make informed choices about what to read or not. It's great to see such a wide range of views about the topic here!

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  3. I wish I was better at DNFing. I only DNFed 2 books last year, and I should have DNFed more. I’m one of those “It might get better” people. I have to learn that it rarely gets better. I’m a writing snob, so I only DNF books that are poorly written. Bad writing doesn’t get better over the course of a book. If the beginning is poorly written, the end will be, too. I need to get that through my thick skull. Great discussion!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I can fully understand people wondering if the book improves and wanting to see it happen. We want every book to be great so it's natural to hold on and wait for it to happen. I do agree with you about bad writing. Sometimes we can overlook less than perfect characters or plot holes and still enjoy a book but if the writing is really poor it makes it impossible. I see my share of that reading so much Indie and self published but it's great to get the gems amongst them!

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  4. I believe strongly in the power of the DNF! It's so funny that you write this fabulous post when I declare that I am bringing down the DNF hammer hard this year. My tbr, like yours, is large. I have wasted far too much of my precious free time finishing things that never got better. I'm done with all that. If a book doesn't grab me, for whatever reason, I am moving on to the next one. I will likely write a short review explaining why I DNF'd the thing but I'm no longer wasting time attempting to explain every little reason. Sometimes a book just doesn't mesh.

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    1. I agree with you about the shorter reviews on DNF books. I feel like I try too hard to write long reviews for books I didn't get far into. Maybe I'm trying to justify reviewing them in some way by trying to make the reviews long...I don't know, but it does waste too much time. You are about to enter the world of Mad DNFer! Yea!

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  5. I have absolutely no problem DNF'ing a read, for the same reasons you mentioned. Life is too short to waste on bad books, and it's silly to be miserable in forcing yourself to finish when there are so many other books waiting to be read. Generally, I give a book 50 pages to win me over, and I have no problem sharing my thoughts on why I abandoned it.

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    1. Totally agree with you there Bob. I'm snowed under with books at the moment especially since signing up to these author newsletters so I can't waste time on stuff I don't enjoy. Too many exciting book adventures are waiting for me!

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  6. I actually have a post on my blog about why I don't DNF (http://blog.kristenburns.com/why-i-dont-dnf-books/), so clearly I'm the opposite of you lol. But just like you think it's fine for people to not DNF, I think it's fine for people to DNF however often they want. I don't consider reading a few pages to be a DNF though. I read the first few pages or sometimes even a couple chapters just to decide whether I want to read a book or not. To me that's just part of deciding on a book, the same as looking at the cover and reading the blurb. There were only two books last year that I stopped at 10%, so those could possibly be considered DNFs. They were both review copies, but that didn't make a difference in my decision. Authors and publishers would probably prefer we not read books that are clearly not for us, you know? But even those were hard decisions for me simply because I like to give books a chance when they sound good and have had books surprise me in the past.

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    1. I like some of the points you raise here. I always worry when I accept a review copy from an author in case I hate it! I don't like giving low reviews and I get stressed at the thought of upsetting the anxiously waiting author! I don't take on many these days as I'm concentrating on the books I've bought or downloaded. I used to read anything that semi-interested me so my average on Goodreads was under 2 stars! Recently I've stuck more to favourite genres and more of my reviews are 3 and 4 stars though my Goodreads average sits at 2.56! It's improving! Thankfully it's rare for me to give up after a few pages-it has to be really dreadful to do that!

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  7. I agree, I DNF if a book isn't working. Yeah it might get better but if I'm a 100 pages in and it's not moving yet and I'm bored, screw it lol. that sounds awful I know but hey... life is too short. And I'll zone out anyway so I may as well go on. And it's not like I give it 100 pages or a set amount necessarily- I can DNF sooner if it's just not working.

    I don't usually review a DNF I just set it aside and move on. I don't feel like I need to review EVERYTHING- I usually do but not always. I think your reasons FOR reviewing a DNF, or more accurately talking about why you didn't like it, are fine, and I can see maybe doing that.

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    1. I generally review everything I read (eventually!) even if it's just a few lines to say why I quit. I'm not sure if I do it because I want to or because I feel I have to...never really analysed it I guess! Quite a few of my DNFs are about me not getting into a book rather than thinking it's garbage so I guess I like to distinguish between the two to help authors and other readers.

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  8. I usually don't DNF. I've done it a few times when I'm just not getting into the stories, but even that I still try to get through it.

    But, I don't have a problem with people DNF-ing.

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    1. This month I've had to DNF quite a few and in a mad way it makes me appreciate the good books more when I find them!

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  9. I'm a big believer in DNF'ing no matter how I obtained the book. I used to try to finish everything I started, but I would find myself stuck in a book not reading at all. It's so much better to just put it down and move on.

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    1. Yeah I think I'd end up stuck if I couldn't DNF! I'd be buried under a pile of books somewhere...

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  10. Agreed with pretty much all of this! I'm not always good at doing it, though... I often feel bad.

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    1. I only feel bad when it's a review copy. I hate if I have to DNF one of them. I think it's because I was given it free instead of buying it and doing what I want with paid property!

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