Books: Abandoned or Did Not Finish?

When my husband surprised me with my Kindle almost 10 years ago, I went a little book crazy. I got book after book with little regard to whether I actually liked the summary. Needless to say, there were quite a few books that I started and then wondered why on Earth I thought I’d like it. Some are still waiting for me to touch them.

My Kindle came with a handy little keyboard. It’s not made anymore, so I’m keeping my stranglehold on it as tight as possible. But with that handy little keyboard, where most of the letters have now been worn away, I created 3 categories: to read, read, and abandoned.

As a book lover, I hated seeing that last category, hated sending books to it. But there were some books I simply couldn’t stand, some books that I loathed so much I never wanted to see again. If they had been physical books, they would have been tossed in the donation box in the blink of an eye.

For years, I never really thought about that category. Every so often I would drop books in it and think of them no more. I seriously made myself struggle through some books simply because I didn’t want to add another abandoned book to the list.

Over the past year or so, I’ve come across the book blogging world. And in this world I kept seeing DNF. After reading a few of these posts, I quickly realized it means Did Not Finish.

Sounds a lot like my abandoned category. But sounds nicer?

Over the past year I’ve ruminated on whether I should rename my abandoned category. After all, did not finish sounds nicer than abandoned.

But why should I? I haven’t followed the crowd since I was a child. For about 20 years I’ve done things my own way. Just because did not finish sounds nicer doesn’t mean I can’t say I haven’t abandoned books because I didn’t like them.

I call them abandoned because I have zero intention on ever returning to them. I have, in the truest sense of the word, abandoned them. And when I finally have the time to figure out how to remove them from my library, I will. They have been abandoned, left behind, no longer looked at or regarded.

But I also call them abandoned because, in my own way, I did finish them. Many of these books were self-published. As a self-published author myself, I recognize the work that went into writing and figuring out how to self-publish. I respect that. So, even though I hated the book, I still skimmed through to the end. I still gave the whole story some fraction of my attention.

I do not DNF books (unless I actually lose them, which has happened [I periodically lose Origin of Species]). I finish them. I just…abandon the ones I don’t like.

What about you? Do you DNF books or abandon them like I do?

16 Comments

  • FairytaleFeminista

    I used to finish a book no matter what, but now that I’m a writer (and a mother), I have to prioritize my time and so I (unfortunately) have to abandon books that don’t keep my interest. I feel bad, but sometimes there’s no choice.

    • kat

      Very true. A mother’s time is like gold. I should think the way you do. There’s only so much time now for reading that it should be focused on the good books.

  • Nicole

    I usually read a book 35% of the way before deciding if it’s a “abandon now” or “skim through to the end”. I used to feel sheepish about that but there are waayyy to many good books out there than are worthy of my attention.

    • kat

      Too true! It seems that every day there’s an amazing new book. I have a similar rule, but I only read 25% before deciding. Though sometimes it can take that long for the story to really get going, so sometimes I feel like that’s a bit of an unfair number.

  • brookejcutler

    Oh-Kat. You KNOW what a word nerd I am. I love this, I cannot possibly leave it alone. You should ABSOLUTELY use the word abandoned because the word is SUCH a powerful one. In one swift blow it makes me think and feel all the following words: cold, afraid, lost, sad, sorrow, pain, loss… I think you get my drift. Lol 😂What I’m trying to say is that word is a power word, and you should absolutely use it to talk about those awful books that belong in that awful pile! Ha ha ha. Did not finish? Those words simply mean: did not finish. We need to honour our bad books by them in a power word pile. 😂😂😂 xx

    • kat

      Haha! After reading so many book blogs, I was afraid I was the only one who saw it this way! Abandonment is a bit ruthless, but then so is spending hard earned money on a dismal book. Did not finish sounds so nice and kind in comparison, but often we need the harsh critiques to become better.

  • stolzyblog

    I just literally cannot read something I don’t like. And I seem to know it fairly soon in. I never feel guilty or ‘should’. The written material has to appeal to me, and I trust my tastes. I suppose I have just become this way over time.

    • kat

      I hope I can think this way one day, too. It’s nice to give the benefit of the doubt, but, at the same time, it’s time consuming, especially for parents who rarely have time.

  • Kelsi Toczek

    I’m definitely the abandon type, and have been my whole life. When I was younger I would ask my mom to take me to the library almost every day because I’d check out so many books each visit, many of which I didn’t enjoy after the first few chapters. Now I’m a bit more choosey. But I still won’t waste my time on those that don’t hold my interest.

    • kat

      I need to be more like you and be more willing to abandon books. There are so many books out there, but not all of them are interesting. Though I do miss those pre-kid days where there was more time to go through books, the good and the bad.

  • kkaylanicole

    When I was younger I would force myself to finish a book even if I didn’t like it and that didn’t sit well with me but I hated quitted. Over time I’ve realized that it’s not always the worst thing when you do give up. It’s self care. I now only read books that bring me joy and I am interested in. Last year I was reading Big Little Lies and could not get past the first half of the book. Honestly, the first half was such a struggle. I decided to put it behind me and move on and I am so proud of myself for doing so.

    • kat

      Too true. In an increasingly busy world with busier lives there’s only so much time to enjoy the things you love. I hate abandoning books, but there is no enjoyment to be found in reading agonizing books. You’re right; it very much is self care and I really need to remember that.

    • kat

      So true! Not every book is meant for every reader no matter how much we love books. But I find it’s always worse when everyone loves a book except me. It’s so easy to want to read and love a book, but much harder to realize it’s just not your cup of tea.

      Thank you so much for your comment! I apologize for taking so long to reply. Life’s been a little nuts.

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