Discussion: When to Quit

Discussion: When to Quit

Confession: I am a serial DNF-er (did-not-finish).

I have no problem walking away from series or books that don’t hold my interest. This applies to things outside of my reading life too, like T.V. shows or hobbies. Apparently I have a short attention span, or maybe it’s high expectations. Life is too short to spend time on a book that bores you.

Sometimes I’ll walk away from a series based on age range. There are some teen series that I enjoy as an adult, but there are others that don’t translate well. I’m still a sucker for anything paranormal or supernatural but I’ve quit on numerous YA series. I walked away from Twilight, Blue Bloods, Vampire Academy, Vampire Diaries and many more before each series was complete. Sometimes I simply lose interest. I read 6 or 7 of the Sookie Stackhouse books before saying ‘meh’ and getting rid of them.

It’s less common for me to quit on a book halfway through. I used to feel really guilty about it- like I was betraying myself as a reader. However, after working in a library and becoming a book reviewer my attitude has changed. It’s difficult to calculate, but there are an estimated 130 million+ books that have ever been published. Logically, that means there are literally millions of books that I’ll love. There will also be millions of books that I simply don’t enjoy.

If I come across a book that isn’t my cup of tea, I’m not going to waste precious reading time on finishing it. I just don’t see the point. Reading is supposed to be an enjoyable activity. It becomes less enjoyable when you force yourself to keep going. Again- life is just too short, and there are too many other ways to spend your time.

My general rule is 50 pages. After that I give myself full permission to quit. Sometimes that means I quit at page 51. Other times I’ll quit closer to the end. For example, I read 306/578 pages of The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Multiple people recommended it to me, so I kept pushing through. After 300 pages, though, I just got bored.

Does this mean I walk away from books with great endings? Maybe. I’d prefer a book that’s good all the way through.

I find that I’m more willing to walk away from a book that was free. “The experts” call this the sunk cost fallacy. As humans, we tend to feel like something has value simply because we’ve already invested time (or money) into it. This means we frequently stick with things that aren’t serving their intended purpose. With reading, an uninteresting book defeats the point of entertainment.

As of today, I (some random stranger on the internet) give you full permission to quit without guilt. If you’ve lost interest in a book or series- get rid of it! If you’re struggling through the latest best-seller because it’s not your thing- let it go! Reading is supposed to be a leisure activity. Leisure shouldn’t be a struggle.

What about you? Do you quit when you aren’t connecting with a book? Or do you prefer to see it through to the end?

6 thoughts on “Discussion: When to Quit

  1. Great discussion. Unfortunately I have a hard time DNF’ing and I honestly wish I didn’t. I am trying to do it more because I don’t know why I torment myself. However, every once in a while, I will end up liking a book that I thought about DNF’ing and then it reinforces my decision to not DNF things. Sounds like I’m a hot mess in this aspect huh?

    1. I don’t think you sound like a hot mess at all, haha! I think that’s totally understandable, and I admire the conviction to keep going even when a book becomes challenging. On the one hand, I feel like my approach is freeing, but on the other hand, I wonder if I quit too easily. I don’t think there’s a right answer đŸ™‚

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