Why It’s Okay to DNF Books

Categories: books Tags: publishing books

Here’s a dirty little secret about me: I don’t finish all the books I read.

That’s right. I sometimes DNF (Do Not Finish). Cue gasps.

Being so entrenched in the publishing world as an agent, editor, and a writer myself, I live and breathe books. I tweet about books. I write about books. I talk about books. My life is books. And that’s the reason why I’ve given myself permission to only read the books that are right for me.

Our ability to finish a book isn’t necessarily a marker of how good a book is. Rather, it’s a marker of the reader finding the book at the right time. For example, right now, I’m on a huge horror kick, so I’ve been devouring the creepy, the gritty, the nightmarish, and the paranormal. These are the right books for me right now. Check back in with me in a few months, and I might be craving all things sweet and light and romantic. It’s not only a matter of taste but a matter of timing.

This point also illustrates that many readers (myself included) have a very broad range of literary tastes. And if we finished every book we started, we might not have the time to read nearly as widely. Allowing yourself to DNF means you’re allowing yourself to put aside a book that’s not right for you at the time, and slot in another that might be a better fit. And that’s okay.

Here is where it is important for me to point out that I approach reading from a very privileged standpoint. Working in publishing has given me easy access to a lot of books so that I always have another book waiting in the wings to take over. This is a good time to encourage you to check out books from your local library, try a free audible trial, check out books that are in the public domain, and do book swaps with your friends.

In short, give yourself permission to DNF books you’re not feeling. DNF books to find the ones you love.