I used to be that person who always finished the book she was reading. Like. Always. DNF a book? Me? How could you suggest it? I read to the end even if I hated it. Because, in my mind, “I put so much time into it already!”
Well that’s just it.
I was pouring all this time into books I didn’t even like! One person wisely said, “Life’s too short for boring books.” AMEN! And that really got me thinking. If I read 40 books a year and I’m lucky enough to live for 50 more years, that’s only 2,000 more books I get to read in my lifetime, people! EVER. I HAVE TO BE SELECTIVE! And you should, too. 😉
So, for all the curious minds out there . . . these are some reasons I DNF (do not finish) a book:
1. No plot.
I will refrain from giving examples. I will be strong! But . . . THIS HAPPENS SO OFTEN. Give us plot, people. This “lack of plot” virus can manifest itself in a number of ways. Maybe there is a supposed plot, but the author spoonfeeds it to us with a multi-chapter lecture. Or maybe there’s no plot until the very end. Sorry . . . still a strikeout. There needs to be solid plot, and there needs to be solid characters. ‘Nuff said.
All authors can fix this problem by reading Plot vs. Character by Jeff Gerke. 😛 (Yup, total plug. Because it’s like my magical writing tool.)
2. Info dumps.
Giant ones that try to eat your brain and you end up napping mid-book. Sorry, can’t do it. (Except for with Ready Player One. I pushed through THAT info dump and it ended up being a favorite book. 😛 ) Info-dumps are like reading textbooks. There’s nothing to connect to. And I don’t know about you, but I’m sure happy to be done with school. 😉
3. Bedroom Scenes
Does this really need explaining? I can handle the “looking deeply into each other’s eyes” cliche, but are the bedroom scenes really necessary? Sometimes I’m afraid that authors don’t realize that their books can shape the worldview of their young readers. Do we really want to tell teens to go have sex with their insta-love victim? Please. Stop. The. Madness.
But aside from the wayward “message,” I don’t want to read those scenes anyway — even if I’m “immune” to the message. They make me feel dirty and they make me lose respect for both the author and the characters. Okay . . . that’s all. I’ll refrain from pulling out my soapbox.
4. Excessive violence.
Like, the things that make me want to hurl. There’s violence, and then there’s violence. Like . . . now I have the flu and it’s just from a scene in a book. And now I’m having nightmares of being in wars and watching people die everywhere. I can remember every scene I’ve ever read that gave too many details.
Now…I know my book, A Time to Die has violence in it. But I tried to stay away from graphic violence. This is more violence of the story and the culture and, in my mind, it’s different.
5. Bashing on God.
Um, He’s my everything. You can bash on Harry Potter and Oreos and twinkle lights and I’ll forgive you. But not my King. (Okay, so I’ll try to forgive . . . because He tells me too. But I probably won’t like you very much.) *bites tongue to refrain from giving examples*
6. Writing that’s too dense.
Yes, this can include classics. This isn’t usually the author’s fault, it’s more my matter of preference. I have to be in the right mood to push through a classic. But if I give it a try and it’s just way too dense…? DNF pile, baby. And then probably a spoilery Wikipedia page so I can find out how the story ends. I might give the thing another try. At the very least, a DNF dense book isn’t sent to the “burn-this-book-and-then-burn-its-ashes” pile. 😉 It’s just…set aside until I can
donate lend it to a victim friend.
7. I’m not in the mood.
Hey, wait, didn’t we kind of just mention this one? Um . . . THIS ONE IS NOT THE AUTHOR’S FAULT. Usually I will have put the book down at some point and then forgot to pick it back up for two years. Sometimes I’ll give that book another try, but usually I just, um, donate it to my library. *hides*
8. Lame characters.
Not, like, LIMPING people. But characters that never come alive. They just point and walk and say drab ol’ dialogue. I can’t handle it! READER ENGAGEMENT IS CHARACTER DRIVEN, PEOPLE! Get this: A character-driven book can save an awful plot. But an awesome plot can’t save a flat-charactered book. That’s my opinion.
9. Lost interest.
If a book takes me more than two weeks to get through, chances are I’ll lose interest and won’t finish. I don’t read multiple books at a time (despite my Goodreads status. Just . . . don’t ask.) So if I’m reading a book that’s getting boooorrrrring . . . that means it’s keeping me from picking up the next book on my list. And I just can’t handle it.
10. Reading slump.
BRING ME BACK THE MARK OF THE LION SERIES! Ugh. That series ruins me every time. I can’t read ANYTHING for weeks afterward. To spare myself from killing every decent book out there just because of my book hangover, I try not to read when I’m in a slump. I must let the slump pass. So I watch movies . . . and eat chocolate.
But there are occasions where I try to claw myself out of the slump and I end up picking out a book that could potentially be AWESOME on another day . . . and then I ruin it because I’m slumpy. So . . . DNF pile. Such is life. (No mercy!!)
11. I don’t trust the author.
This happens when authors don’t wrap up the right plot threads, or they don’t complete what they started, or they forgot that their character had a broken arm. Then I lose trust that they’ll even conclude the story for me fully. This is also why I turn off TV shows. I have so many TV shows that I’ve watched all the way to the finale and then . . . just didn’t finish. (THE SHAME!) I don’t feel bad.
12. Pointless deaths.
DO YOU HEAR ME, GEORGE R. R. MARTIN?!? Okay, I shouted that but . . . *confession* . . . I haven’t read his books. I’ve read part of Game of Thrones and it was awesome until it ran into point #3. So I stopped. And one reason I’ve never picked it up again is because I hear he kills off EVERYONE. And a lot of time it’s kind of . . . purposeless.
Now I know I’m not an innocent author when it comes to murdering my darlings. *sniff* BUT . . . all of their deaths have a giant purpose, even if it’s hard to see. That’s because I know that real deaths have a purpose, even if God is not allowing us to see the purpose in our lifetime. God is a purposeful God . . . and because of that, random deaths just have no place in fiction. Even if it’s just to “show the horrors of war” (do you hear me, Suzanne Collins?!)
So those are my reasons. What are reasons you DNF a book? Or are you a read-to-the-last-page type of person? (Tweet this)