Life is too short to finish books you don’t like

There’s also a passionate Abandon team that seems louder now, with evergreen blog posts and tweets echoing my wise friend’s perspectives: I don’t know who needs to hear this but you don’t have to finish the books you hate. This spirit is to go against the status quo; even personal care, that pesky buzzword. Within Instagram’s Bookstagram community, there is a handy acronym to use: DNF, short for has not finished. The reasons for not seeing the books are varied, according to a now-old Goodreads survey, which found that “slow, boring” and “weak writing” books were the top two. He also somewhat awkwardly shared the most set back titles on the platform, including that of JK Rowling. Vacancy (who seems to have failed to remember Harry potter fans) and Fifty shades of Grey.

My position on DNF has evolved along with my view of reading itself. Especially during my university studies in English, jumping a ship was not an option; finishing Titus Andronicus was, yes, a virtue, but also a responsibility. As a cultural writer, reading books – until the end – can still be. But in the obligatory days of an adult and a mother, I usually don’t see reading as one of them. Reading is my joy, my mental adventure, a pinch of excitement and sometimes heartache. I think reading for fun should be just that. Sometimes it’s just a feeling, an intangible lack of connection, that leads me astray; other times it is an artificial device, like too long disjointed emails between characters. But I don’t think twice about it anymore. I don’t care how popular and ubiquitous it is: as I approach my forties, I will no longer suffer from bad books on principle. I don’t see “giving up” as finished either; sometimes I’m not in the mood for heavy or dark books, and I’ll put them aside for the moment. (For too long I’ve resisted Chanel Miller’s memoir, Know my name but when I finally dove through Audible, it blew me away with its brilliance.) For every book, there is a time, a mood, and a season.

Of course, the only rule of reading should be that there is are no rules (that, and we do not degrade the books). “The pressure to read ‘correctly’, whatever that means, can hinder reading,” Naban Ruthrum wrote on Medium last year. Sometimes I still drag books that I don’t like, but using good judgment in what I read has led to fewer shelves. I’m a self-confessed snob – I’ll die on the hill for not reading a long-standing bestseller because I’m just not in a swampy environment. It’s far from a perfect system, but I can often judge a book’s stiffness from the first page or Audible sample (robotic voices are an emphatic no). A way to quit smoking, or not? Choose wisely in the first place.

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