Reading books, reviewing books, blogging about books – books take up a huge amount of our time. As readers we consume plot after plot, filling our heads with new stories on a regular basis. But how often do we find ourselves reading something dull? Or farfetched, or poorly written, or just bad?
Honestly, this doesn’t happen to me as much as it used to, as since starting this blog I pay much more attention to the books I’m choosing to read. And when it does, before I even worry about whether to review the book or not, and how many stars to give it, I have to think about if I even want to finish reading.
On the one hand, it is important to read books you don’t like so much – it helps shape your tastes as a reader, and in future you’ll know what genres and plots to steer away from. To a degree, it also depends on the book, and where it came from; if you’re a blogger, maybe you requested the book for review, and so feel obligated to finish it. Or maybe a friend gave it to you to read, and you want to see it through to the end for their sake. If a book is problematic, it may be worth finishing it so that you can voice your opinion in a review (although, is always the option of a DNF review). And if it’s a ‘marmite’ book, personally I would want to read it, if only to form my own opinion. There’s also another plus, one that’s quite simple: it will count towards your Goodreads total – because if you’ve made a start, surely it’d be a waste of time to give up?
But we’re all busy people, with busy lives, and our reading time is sacred; as bloggers, there’s so much to read, both stuff we have and haven’t committed to. As people, you can simply argue that life’s too short to read bad books. Even if you don’t run a blog or talk about your reading online, reading is a hobby, so why do it if you’re not enjoying it? Each book we read takes so many hours to get through, and it takes even longer to read something you’re not enjoying, which just leaves you less time to read the books you like. Of course, if you are struggling with a book because you find it triggering, or distressing in any way, then it is probably best to stop reading. It’s important to remember that despite what we tell ourselves, there’s no obligation to read anything. Harry Potter is not a mandatory text (I know, shocker). You are not going to be ostracised by fellow readers if you don’t enjoy a hyped-up book. Despite the wonderful community aspect of reading, at the end of the day it is an individual thing.
I am really not sure where I stand on this – whilst in the past eleven months, I have read fewer ‘bad’ books as a result of blogging, I am also less inclined to DNF a book if I am not enjoying it. Like I mentioned before, reading is a very personal thing. For me, I suppose it is worth finishing it if I’m over halfway through, and I think I’ve adapted an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. Personally, I haven’t really felt pressured to read anything (but that may be because I have read Harry Potter, and so have not been subjected to the gasps and cries of outrage from literally everyone in the room when such a confession is made. And on that note, Simon James Green, author of the hilarious Noah Can’t Even, is currently reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time, and live tweeting it – it’s brilliant. Anyway. Tangent over).
Do let me know your opinion on this – do you think it’s worth finishing a bad book? How often do you DNF books, and do you ever feel obligated not to?