DNF: The Pressure to Enjoy Books

Not finishing a book is an often difficult concept to me.

I am easily impressed and entertained, it takes something big (or I guess, not big at all) for me to put down a book. Either it’s really boring, or there is an element of the story I really don’t like.

Of course, that’s the same for everyone; you put down a book because you don’t like it. Books are subjective. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion yada yada yada.

But when being a part of a reading community, you can often get whirled up in hype. I hate hype. It’s like this infectious thing that latches onto a book/series and spreads, deeming the book too boring and disappointing. Hype has put me off books completely, tearing down the idea that I’ll even pick it up!

But then there are some books that I’m dying to read, are incredibly popular, and so well loved.

Last night, after reading only forty pages, I DNF’d a really popular book in the online reading/book blogging community. I was actually offended that this book was so popular; after reading not even a tenth of it, I had ticked off almost everything off my checklist in what I don’t like about a book: misogyny, a Mary-Sue, a poorly developed world, the hashing out of old ideas, character stereotypes (manic pixie dream girl for one), and unrealistic dialogue.

britta-bored-reading

This book, that so many people love, was awful. How, as an avid reader and book lover, though, could I not enjoy it? I began to doubt myself, staring at the book as I discussed with people on Twitter why I didn’t like it, and why they actually loved it. Was it me? Was I the problem? Was I not reading it properly? Missing the point? I mean, I’d only read forty pages, that’s not really enough to decide whether a book is good or not.

But…don’t agents, don’t publishers, only read the first chapter? I read five, and I would have put this manuscript in the trash immediately.

But it must have something; people love it! They love the author, they love the story, the characters, the messages. Yeah, it must definitely be me.

For a long time I felt very guilty about putting a book down that I didn’t like. Because maybe I just didn’t get it, I was missing something that everyone else was seeing. But it was only after talking about it to myself more, rereading parts, and talking to others on Twitter about it more, did I realise that no, I will not feel guilty about disliking something.

I have genuine feelings about why I dislike this book, and just because it’s so popular, does not mean that I am wrong. As I said before, reading is a very subjective experience, and through outside factors along with the individual past and present experiences of the reader, you are also bound to have a different interpretation of it as the writer. Just by being a woman, I already have a different outlook on the world than the writer. Hell, just by being another human, I do.

And just because I did not like this book, does not mean there is anything wrong with me, anything wrong with the writer, anything wrong with the book, anything wrong with people who enjoy the book. It all boils down everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I didn’t really feel it until I had this largely unpopular opinion. It wasn’t until people who loved the book sent me smiling emojis and told me my review was interesting.

To me, life is too short for books you don’t enjoy, life is too short to feel forced to pick up books you don’t fancy. Book recs are great, publicity is what get a book out there. But if you don’t like a book, do not be afraid to give it one star, do not be afraid to show an understanding and give constructive criticism (without being downright rude). Do not be afraid to put a book down and say “Yeah, I’m done.”

Considering I only read forty pages, I think it would be redundant to post a review. However, I have put down some thoughts on said book on my Goodreads. If you haven’t read the book and were planning to, please do not be put off by my opinion. Still want to read it? Absolutely go for it, there’s obviously something in there that readers love, and I would hate for you to miss out on a story that could very well be your best read of the year!

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20 thoughts on “DNF: The Pressure to Enjoy Books

  1. I totally agree with you. I have read books that have had a lot of hype from publishers and readers yet, when I read them, I found them mediocre at best and it makes you question if you’re reading the same book and why you found it not as good as other people.

    I’m even right now reading a book I’m contemplating DNF-ing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s started to get better now. It’s a fantasy so I think the author just got a bit long-winded in world-building, and they info-dump far too much for me to retain anything!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was getting impatient! Definitely not my favourite fantasy – it’s in present tense as well which makes it harder to read!

        Like

  2. Great post!

    I have yet to DNF a book, but I totally support people who have! There is zero point in reading a book you don’t enjoy. I am way too stubborn for my own good so I don’t know if I could bring myself to DNF something unless it was being extremely problematic, but that’s just because I like to torture myself lmao there’s nothing wrong with wanting to DNF a book because like you said “life is too short for books you don’t enjoy”.

    Totally agree with what you said about hyped books too. There’s nothing wrong with not liking them and vise versa. When I finished A Court of Thorns and Roses I was worried that I’d read the book wrong or missed something because EVERYONE loves it and I was just like, “maybe I’m being unfair” but then I was like “no my opinion is valid”.

    I read your thoughts on Goodreads and it was really interesting! I plan on reading the book so I’ll be really curious to see how I feel about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think lots of popular books are very problematic, and the reason so many people love them is that they have a different understanding of what is and isn’t problematic. Not liking a popular book is completely fine – as you said, it all comes down to personal opinions. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read a lot of hyped books that I didn’t really enjoyed reading. I think that it is totally fair disliking the book and putting it down when you’re not enjoying it. I’m actually guilty of deciding to DNF a book just by reading its first chapter. I know, I’m so bad and judgemental but I do kind of promise to give it a 2nd chance someday. The main thing that makes me drop a book is the writing style, if it doesn’t work for me I just can’t continue it. And you’re 100%, life is too short to read books we don’t enjoy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Especially since a lot of recs are hyped books, it’s tough to get away from them and you just end up reading them. I think I would try and give some a second chance, but there are some I’ve read a good chunk of and just thought ‘nah’ haha!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Completely agree with this, really great post! You shouldn’t have to feel guilty for disliking a book that others like/liking a book that others hate! Spend your time reading what you’ll like and enjoy it. I also find it hard to DNF at times but if I don’t like something to a certain point I have to stop reading. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

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