Tuesday, September 7, 2021

To DNF, or not to DNF: that is the question

 ****DNF stands for "Did/Do Not Finish"****


I'm reading a book for book club that shall remain nameless at this time. It was a buzzy book a few months ago. It was picked by a celebrity for her book club and even nominated for a literary prize or two. I bought the book back in June, hopeful about adding it to my already large stack of books I wanted to read in the next few months. 


It was not Jenna's book club...
I have loved all of the books I've read from Jenna's list

At book club, last month, one of my friends said she had grabbed the book in question at an airport and after reading the first few chapters felt like it would make for good discussion. Could we read it? I love when we chose a book I already own so I was in favor. 


Around the 20 page mark, I was beginning to have my doubts. I texted my book club friend who had finished by then. I told her I wasn't loving the writing. 


"I didn't either. But the story is so good," she texted back. So, I pressed on.


Around the 100 page mark, I grew increasingly nervous. If I was going to DNF it, I probably should do it now. The story was ok, maybe a little slow, but the writing had not improved. It grated on me with every paragraph. Flowery almost to the point of incoherency, meandering sentences, inconsistencies in character descriptions. Ugh! But I kept going because it's for book club.

my muse

When I'm reading for book club I almost never DNF. I mean, I almost never DNF ever, but I'm even less likely to put aside a book that's not for me when I know I'll be discussing it with others. I want to be specific in my critiques and have a complete view of the novel. But I was really considering it around page 100. 


Instead of giving up on it completely, I gave myself a break. I didn't crack this nameless book open over the weekend. Instead, I finished a thriller and started a Louise Penny book I'd been saving to read. It was a very good weekend.


A fast-paced thriller was just what the book doctor ordered


But on Monday, I dutifully went back to the book club book. I slogged through another 50 pages, thinking about how annoyed I was with the writing but really wanting to know where the plot was headed and what the author was going to do with my favorite character. 


On that same day, I saw a bookstagram post about how disappointing this book was and listened to Laura Tremaine talk on her podcast about DNF-ing books that aren't working for you. #serendipity?


It was like she was literally talking to ME!


While I was making dinner, in my AirPods, I heard these words: "I do not finish books that I'm hating. If you hate a book, put it down. There is no book police that says, 'Because you started something you have to finish it.'" I mean...


And now I'm torn. Do I set aside this book, halfway through, or, do I keep going and see if the ending gives at least a little credibility to all the buzz?


The other members of my book club are not as neurotic as me about finishing books and they have DNF-ed books that were bugging them. I know they'd be ok with me not completing this one...but would I? 


What would you do????


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