is it worth finishing a bad book? | discussion

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?

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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?

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17 thoughts on “is it worth finishing a bad book? | discussion

  1. I DNF if I’m not enjoying, in the simplest of terms. I haven’t received many review copies as yet, but would possibly DNF if I’d give it less than 3 stars. I also dislike writing negative reviews. I think the last book I didn’t finish was The Girls’ Guide to Summer by Sarah Mlyknowski x

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    1. I also don’t like writing negative reviews – I would rather just not review a book at all, I think (I’ve only written one review with an overall negative tone, and I was super nervous about posting it). I think the last book I DNF was Jane Eyre, tho that was because I lent my kindle to a friend (and I’m now reading it afresh)! Xx

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  2. Before I started blogging I would force myself to finish a book even if I wasn’t enjoying it. But since blogging, I’ve DNFd so many books because I would rather dedicate my time to someone I love. I used to be afraid of posting negative reviews but have started being more confident pointing out things i didn’t like (even if it’s in a book I loved). My only exception now when it comes to finishing “bad” books is if I’ve been sent them for review because I don’t think it’s fair to write one if I haven’t read the full book.

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    1. True! I would pretty much always see a book I’m reviewing to the end, I think. I’m also becoming more critical in my reviews, which I’m happier about – it makes me feel that I’m being more honest in my review! X

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  3. I’m terrible for not DNFing. There’s been a few books I’ve considered not finishing but I’ve got so far I’m determined to finish it, even if it takes me a while to get there!

    I’m not keen on posting super negative reviews, I’ve definitely posted reviews of books I wasn’t overly keen on but I’m always very open to the fact it’s just my opinion and other people may love it, just as there’s books other people haven’t been keen on but have just clicked for me. I think (hope) everyone reading my blog knows I write my reviews for me, and just because I didn’t enjoy a book doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, it’s just one opinion out of thousands!

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    1. I’m the same, I don’t like reviewing books I really dislike (it just feels unnecessary and a bit unkind, if that makes sense?), so I always try to make my criticisms constructive. I also think it’s super important to remind people that it’s your opinion! I personally feel that if you’ve been wanting to read a book, and then see a bad review, it shouldn’t put you off – just give you something to think about!

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  4. I used to see every book through to the end whether I was enjoying it or not. Now, if I can’t get into a book in the first 100 pages, I DNF. There are so many books I want to read, that I don’t want to force myself with something I don’t care about/am not enjoying. I wouldn’t generally review those books through. I haven’t yet had an ARC I DNF so I’m not sure how I would handle that. I probably wouldn’t review it on my blog though.

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    1. I think 100 pages is kinda the perfect length – enough to get a feeling for the book, and to see if your feelings will change. I think there’s something really great about being able to put a book down, and move onto one you will actually enjoy!

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  5. I used to stick with books regardless of whether I liked them or not purely because I wanted to say I’d finished them. Now, I hate the thought that I’m only reading a book to get my goodreads total up as that’s not what reading is about for me anymore. I now have a vague rule that if I’m 100 pages in and I still don’t like it I will DNF it!

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    1. A 100 page rule sounds like a good idea (with enough time to come to a decision)! I think I may start a DNF list on Goodreads, to give me somewhere to put the books I give up on, if that makes sense? And that will prevent me from accidentally picking it up again, which I have done in the past!

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  6. I always try to finish a book, but if it’s REALLY not making me happy or interested, then I just DNF. It really depends on how invested I am in finishing. I always try to finish ARCs, because I feel like I can’t do a full review if I haven’t read it fully. I’m currently making my way through The Hate U Give and I’m not really enjoying it much but I am going to try to finish it since I think it’s an important book.

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    1. Yeah, however much I try and stick with a book, sometimes I have to DNF, which I think is fair enough! I’m sorry you’re not enjoying THUG much – how far through are you? You’re the first person I’ve heard who hasn’t loved it, so it’d be interesting to hear what you think!

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  7. I definitely don’t think there are any issues DNF-ing a bad book- like you said you don’t want to waste your precious reading time on something you don’t like.
    As for me, I just cant bring myself to do it. Even if I really hate a book, the voice in the back of my brain keeps telling me that if I give up I might miss the good bits… so I just keep going. At least that way it not only contributes to my Goodreads challenge, but I can then make a firm conclusion that a book didn’t work for me.

    This is a really good post though, and it is so nice to hear about both sides of the topic!

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  8. Surprisingly, I don’t DNF books as much as I used to. But I feel that if I feel myself not enjoying something, I’d stop reading it. For me, reading is not work. I don’t have to finish something if I don’t have it. If I find myself bored to death by something, I’d stop, because if I don’t, I’ll fall into a terrible, terrible reading slump (which already happened a couple of times). Also, being a single mom and a full-time employee, I don’t have much time to waste on books that doesn’t hold my interest. I’d rather waste them on something I am enjoying and would, for sure, end up loving.

    Great post. 🙂

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    1. Thank you! It’s great that you have this attitude towards reading – I guess it is better to avoid a reading slump by reading what you love, rather than forcing yourself to read something you don’t (especially if you’re very busy)!

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