Books, General

Discussion | The Pressures of Reading Challenges and DNF-ing

Guys, it’s straight up confession time,. I don’t like DNF-ing books, and I certainly don’t like DNF-ing Reading Challenges. I read a lot of books, and whether I love them or loathe them I always finish them. I take part in a lot of readathons and reading challenges, and I have a habit of not managing the longer reading challenges. So, with this in mind recently, I’ve been thinking is it all worth it?

Let’s start by talking readathons v reading challenges. I’m not sure if there is a technical difference, or an actual definition of each, but for me they’re different kettles of fish. A readathon is a short defined period where a group of people get together and read, there may be little challenges and games and chats along the way, but there isn’t a whole pass or fail element usually, and it’s a lot of fun. Reading Challenges run over a long period, such as a year, and have a serious of tasks to cross of by reading a book that fulfils it, and are fun to sign up and plan for.

I love a good readathon. I take part in lots a year and find chatting to people about books and reading with others really enjoyable. I like that they promote reading for enjoyment and not for an assignment, and that most aren’t about the numbers of books you read or how reputable the book you finish it, it’s all about taking part and having a great time. They can be themed and have elements within them to push you or get you thinking about pictures and songs, but at the end of the day they promote fun reading. I have no issues with readathons whatsoever. They spread the right message in the right way and I think they help encourage less voracious readers than myself to join in with the wider reading community.

Reading challenges, however, can be tougher. I love getting the list of challenges and deciding what I might be able to read for which, and planning my sign up and TBR post, but as the year/length of the challenge goes on, it gets harder and harder to stay in touch and focused with it and becomes more of a chore than a task. Is it fair? Probably not, but I don’t think I am the only one who feels this way. At 27, I know what books and genres I like. Yes, I will stray outside my comfort zone, but broadly speaking I know what I like and enjoy reading. These challenges regularly take me out of my comfort zone, and not in a good way. I sometimes find myself reading books for the sake of it, not for enjoyment, and that takes some of the fun out of reading. I put off reading books I am really excited and passionate about to read something that will tick a box. They also regularly make me feel guilty about my reading choices and the books and authors that I know. I am undoubtedly sheltered when it comes to books, I don’t know a lot about a lot of novels and authors, and I am sure I could read more diversely and wisely, but I want to be able to learn this about myself and find books that allow me to do this at my own speed and not because I am forced to.

As for DNF-ing, well, I feel like this is a dangerous and touchy subject in the book loving world. DNF-ing (aka Did Not Finish) a book is something that many readers choose to do and many readers don’t. Personally, I really struggle with the concept of not finishing a book. I have DNF-ed 2 books this year and have struggled both times, and in my lifetime don’t remember DNF-ing more than 5 or 6 books. I am very much in the camp of finishing what you have started to read. Now, this can be great when you’re reading one of those books that starts off slow and builds, culminating in a masterpiece, or at least an enjoyable book. There are books, however, that you read and feel like were a waste of time and energy.

This has got me re-evalutating whether my must finish attitude is the best to have. I am definitely reading books I am not enjoying for the sake of finishing them. I like to be able to count them on my ‘Read’ shelves but I could be reading something I would much rather read and enjoy a lot more. I know many readers using DNF-ing as a sort of review, a ‘this is not good enough to waste my time on’ or ‘I don’t enjoy this enough to keep me reading’ kinda thing, and I think I may need to think about doing this. There is a pride that comes with finishing a book I had to work at for me, but in reality, I don’t keep watching a film or TV show I don’t like, I switch it over/off. So, why then don’t I do this with books?

I don’t really have a point to all this other than to try and put my own thoughts in order. I signed up to multiple reading challenges this year, and definitely think it was too many. Next year, I am reducing it back down to just Around the Year in 52 books, a manageable and enjoyable list. I also think I might consider purposely DNF-ing books if it helps me to actually think about reading more books that I actually like instead of wasting time with books I don’t want to read.

I’d really love to hear what you think on these subjects?

Do you take part in reading challenges? Which ones? What do you think of them?

Do you DNF books? If you do, what makes you put it down?

12 thoughts on “Discussion | The Pressures of Reading Challenges and DNF-ing”

  1. Unless it’s the GR Reading Challenge (which for me is never really a challenge), or one of my own reading challenges (finish a series, read a couple of books in French, an adult or classic novel for every 10 YA, or something like that), I really struggle with reading challenges. I often find that set challenges don’t take into consideration the malleability of reading moods, and I personally need to be in the right mood for a particular book otherwise the reading experience is not enjoyable. It’s also the reason why I DNF a lot – 90% of the books I now DNF are what I call “temporary DNFs” so they’re to be picked back up at a later date. The other 10% are mainly the result of me not liking an aspect of the plot or characters, not being able to connect with the story, and generally losing interest in the book. I’m not afraid to DNF a book, but at the same time It bugs me greatly because there is nothing I would like more than to place a stack of 6/7 books on my bedside table, declare that my tbr for the month and read them all the way through whether I like them or not. I’d get through my backlist in a heartbeat! On the other hand, I do think it’s my brain rebelling against all those years of required reading lists and people saying you ought to be reading ‘x’ book instead of ‘y’ book etc. It’s nice and freeing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the GR goal, which is just that a goal. I take part in readathons that have little challenges and love them, because I choose reads based on my mood and my whims at the time.
      Like you say, longer reading challenges have challenges that I consider largely because I’m told to and not because I want to read anything that fits. I often feel guilty for not reading wider which leave me feeling shit at the end of the day. I quite like Around the Year in 52 books, it’s a good mix and there is enough to challenge you without alienating, but Book Riot Read Harder has now come to the point where I despise myself for not doing it and despise myself for not starting it. It’s a vicious circle.
      That circle is definitely worsened by not DNFing. I just find it hard, I don’t know why, but end up persevering with something I don’t like instead of reading something I would love.
      I would like to get through my back list and TBR but I acquire books and don’t like reading things I’m told to read. I like to find and discover and read at my own pace and when my mood takes me there rather than because I’m told to.
      Maybe I should think about DNFing, or putting down for now, more often. I should probably learn to embrace it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also hated the idea of not finishing the book when I was younger… but there are just books that are so hard to read that finishing isn’t just possible. There are books that I label as “read in another time” rather than “did not finish” because sometimes it’s the timing’s that’s wrong and the book is actually pretty decent. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This! Yes this! Sometimes the book is good, it’s my mood that doesn’t fit. I really struggle with DNFing but I did it once or twice this year and didn’t hate myself too much, I’m starting to wonder if I should. I might steal the “read another time” idea!


  3. I absolutely DNF books. If I’m not enjoying it I can’t see myself slogging through it and on top of that it usually puts me off reading, so I end up in a reading slump.

    I feel the same way about reading challenges. This year I have a bunch, but I already know I’m not going to complete them all for a few reasons: I’m headed back to school, I don’t like some of the prompts, and I don’t own the books for some of the prompts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is how I feel about Reading Challenges for sure. I’m definitely slimming down the amount I do next year so I can try and enjoy one without worrying about leaving a load incomplete.

      I know I should have this attitude to DNFing because it definitely puts me in a slump and I end up reading stuff I don’t like that much, but the perfectionist/completer in me just doesn’t let me DNF easily


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