Every so often I see a post or a review that includes the three letters that make the majority of reader gasp. DNF. For those who aren’t as book slang savy, this refers to a book that someone did not finish. Meaning that they snatched the bookmark out of the novel and tossed it back into the pile, returned it to the library, or got rid of it entirely. For me at least, this confession is always met with disbelief, a decent amount of side eyeing, and the inevitable shaking of the head. But honestly, why do I react this way?
When I was in elementary school I was a chronic DNF reader. I remember either finishing books in a day or just not liking them once I’d began to read them. There was a moment in third grade where we had to paint pumpkins to look like someone famous in history, and I changed my mind on the nonfiction book I wanted to check out for the project. A different book seemed more interesting, and the first book wasn’t holding my attention. I was told immediately by the librarian and the teacher that I wouldn’t be allowed to switch, because I had already checked out the book. My librarian at the time then told me that had a bad habit of returning books the same day I checked them out, and that I have to read each book I check out because it might be the best book I ever read.
In hindsight, I think she hated I made more work for her.
The sentiment of not judging a book by its cover and that any book might be your favorite is a nice one. It’s romantic. But now that I’m an older, picker reader, I think it’s bullshit. Not every book is going to be my favorite, and that’s okay. But I also have a limited amount of time to live, let alone to read. Reading time gets eaten away at by working, school, and necessary adventuring. My TBR is forever growing, and my new favorite book could be released in a year that hasn’t happened yet. Recently I’ve had more and more readers and friends express the belief that we can’t read every book we pick up. Maybe it is a good book, maybe it’s fantastic. But if you’re struggling through a book and you just can’t make yourself relate to it, than what’s the point? There’s a stack of five more books beside you that you’re dying to read. Read them! Yank out the bookmark!
Today I yanked the bookmark out of the book I was currently reading. I took it to the library, dropped it off, and got an audio book instead. Honestly, everything feels a little more focused and happier now. So do the same for you. Be picky about your books, if you don’t like it then stop reading it. You have so many more adventures that want your attention.