The DNF list

Do you persevere with a book even if you’re not enjoying it? Since I learnt to read until about 5 years ago, I did. I’d grumble and sigh my way through books (films and tv too), reading right until the bitter end. Maybe I thought there was some sort of medal for sheer bloodymindedness in book reading…who knows? At some point I came across the 50 page rule (if you’re not engaged with the story when you hit the 50 page mark, walk away from the book) and it was a revelation! If you’re shaking your head at this point, yes it’s completely silly, I agree.

Anyway, looking through my Goodreads lists the other night for the 3 books I’ve loved (recently) post I looked at my DNF list and what an odd mix of books it is. And I can still remember why I stopped reading each of the books…

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – the narrator didn’t work for me (a narrator that doesn’t engage or simply confuses me is an instant turn off). I wanted to like it but alas, I even tried to read this one a second time but no dice. Perhaps third time is a charm?

One Hundred Years of Solitude – sooo long, sooo many descriptions, too wordy and flowery and NOPE. This probably makes me a literary philistine, oh well!

The Great Gatsby – see One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Use Your Words: A myth-busting, no fear approach to writing – at the height of my frustrations about wanting to write but not getting anywhere (assisted by me actually not writing at all!) I picked up this book. A few chapters in, the author, Catherine Deveny suggests that if you don’t want to write, stop reading the book immediately and do something else. So I did. And then I started writing. Weird.

There are a few more on that list, and recently my selections from the library have been pretty average so there are some more to add.

Learning to stop reading has (I think) taught me to be more discerning and to think more about why I didn’t make a connection with the story – was it the tone, the writing style, characters, narrator? Actually it has made reading much more enjoyable – do you have a 50 page rule?



3 thoughts on “The DNF list”

  1. Hi Sally,

    I learnt this late in life too, and sometimes have relapses (maybe it gets better later on, you must try, just skim read to the end).

    I think I was freed from reading everything after the first time I walked out of a play before it had finished. A friend and I had signed up to the Melbourne Theatre Company season and had had a few that had not engaged with us at all. At the next play, in the interval, we decided nothing magical was likely to happen in the second half and we left. I slept well and woke up the next morning to find I had no regrets, no sense of missed opportunity, no OMG what if it got better concerns.

    Now I just think life is short and if you are not maximising your time in something you believe is enriching your life, you should be 👍🏻

    1. Hi Ruth, that’s it, read/watch/listen if it makes you feel good. If not, let it goooooooooo!

  2. If I’m still wavering after the 50 page mark, I’ve been known to look at the last page and then decide if I care enough to read on and find out how it got to that final moment. If not, chuck it and move on.

    The older I get the less books I finish, I’m better with audio books than print – I find it too easy to disengage from print and just put it down. I think that is less a comment on the quality of the books I’m reading and more about the effort I put in but there you are 🙂

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