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Why It's Okay to Mark Books as DNF

April 6, 2018

An old, lower quality picture, but featuring the first book I marked as DNF. 


I never used to mark books as DNF. Ever. No matter how much I despised the book, or how painful it was for me to read, I would drag myself through the entire book, and then the entire series, just so that I could say that I had finished it. This process was miserable for me, and most of the time I just wound up not reading for days or even weeks so that I didn't have to face the book. I did this for years, until one day I was reading All the Crooked Saints and was just really not feeling it. I wasn't a huge fan of her Raven Boys series either, but felt obligated to read it since I had read her other books. I was talking about how much I was dreading reading it, and I had a couple people ask me why I was still reading it if I didn't like it that much. I've had people ask me that a million times, but for some reason that day I actually stopped and really asked myself why I was still reading this book. I didn't enjoy it, and I had so many other books to read.


I will fully admit that I have what I like to call reverse-commitment issues with books. It's not that I'm afraid to commit to them, it's that once I start reading I feel obligated to finish no matter how much I dislike the book. I feel like I owe it to the author to finish the entire thing, that maybe it gets better partway through, that maybe... I would just make up all of the excuses to keep reading even though I would dread picking up the book. I even created a shelf on Goodreads called "on-hold" where I would put books that I was so totally going to finish one day, but that I just "couldn't read right now." Basically, it was a DNF shelf disguised as something else.


All the Crooked Saints was the first book I ever officially marked as DNF. It was quickly followed by Under the Never Sky, which I put on my "on-hold" shelf in March and moved to my DNF shelf in December. 10 days later, I marked The Sandcastle Empire as DNF as well. It was truly a liberating experience, because I had finally (mostly) convinced myself that it was okay to not finish every single book that I picked up. The world wasn't going to explode, and everything would just go on as normal. 


Those 3 books remain as the only 3 that I have officially marked as DNF, but I've definitely considered moving other books to that shelf recently (I'm looking at you, The World According to Garp). I don't move books there just for fun, but it's made my reading journey so much more enjoyable to have that option available, to not force myself to read books that I don't like. I used to think that people would judge me harshly for not finishing books, but in reality it's not that big of a deal.


Am I the only one who has ever had issues with marking books as DNF?

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