You Picking Up What I’m Putting Down?

8 Dec

Really. It’s me. Or one of us. Or both of us.

In Which I Am Not a Finisher…Yet. Maybe.

Sometimes I pick up a book and KNOW immediately that we will be BFFs and I plow right through it (ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, LEGEND, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE). Sometimes I pick up a book and I’m excited to start it, but our relationship needs some work, and it takes me a while to realize that this book is MORE than I ever thought it would be (THE RAVEN BOYS, THE RED PYRAMID). Sometimes I pick up and book, immediately get a bad vibe, and wind up putting it down because I can just tell that we are NOT meant to be. (IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin comes to mind right away. Also, OCTAVIAN NOTHING by M.T. Anderson.)

SOMETIMES, though, I know that I pick up a book and I feel like our timing is just off. Maybe something else came in that I’ve been DYING to read. Maybe I’m not in the mood to read something serious/big/light-hearted, etc. Maybe, and this is increasingly becoming the case, I just don’t have the time to devote to a book that NEEDS time to grow on me. These books I pick up, put down, and mentally note that we have a date in the future. THANK GOD. Otherwise I never would have read any of the Cassandra Clare‘s Mortal Instruments series, Cinda William’s Chima‘s Seven Realms series, or anything by Jane Austen, just to name a few.

But here’s a thing that I always struggle with: sometimes a book straddles a line between a forever-DNF and a “let’s take a break for a little while.” And, further, what’s the difference between the two in my own reading? Sure, there have been some books that I’ve taken a breather from and gone back to later and enjoyed, but there are way more that I’ve been intending to pick up again and give another shot that remain unfinished and un-revisited. At some point should I just consider those books DNFs for real and move on?

Meh. Probably not. Because I know what I like. Just like every reader does. I can tell when it’s me and not the book that’s creating problems. Like, I can feel it sometimes before I even finish a chapter or less: this isn’t going to grab me RIGHT NOW. But LATER, maybe. And I’m willing to give myself some time to get in the right mood to give what appears to be an otherwise good book another go.

I don’t have any problems with officially DNFing books. I don’t like doing it because it makes me feel like I’m deserting things, but I also don’t have the luxury of giving lots of chances to books that increasingly irritate me/bore me/drag on/don’t make sense/disappoint me, etc. Not when I have so many other things to read, both for pleasure and for this blog. But maybe this “come back to me later” business is just my wussy way of DNFing. To be honest, I can totally see myself acting that way, and I’d believe that a little bit more if I’d put CITY OF BONES on my “later, gator” shelf and left it there. But I didn’t. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this means there’s still hope for me and THE MISTS OF AVALON, JELLICOE ROAD, LITTLE WOMEN, THE VICIOUS DEEP, and more.

What is the point of this RAMBLE? Basically this: Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s the book. I know the difference, most of the time. Mostly, though, I’m glad that I know myself and my reading well enough to say, “don’t force it” if it’s not working. And if I feel like going back to it later, I will. If I don’t, that’s fine too. I make the rules here!

How about you guys? Do you do this a lot, putting books down to come back to them later? Or do you just give them one shot and DNF right away? What are some books that you picked up at the wrong time?


9 Responses to “You Picking Up What I’m Putting Down?”

  1. missprint December 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    I know for a fact that some books I pick up and ultimately skim instead of finishing, I’m the problem. The book could be great but I can’t stop comparing it to a book I love. Or I can’t get past nitpicky world building details. Or a character annoys me. I know that a lot of readers won’t be as critical as I am, but I have a lot of books in my to read piles so I can’t take the time to muddle through a book that I have problems with. That said, when I’m done, I’m done. I’ll usually skim/research endings and I will always note who the book will be a perfect match for–but I also know we will probably not be meeting again down the road.

  2. picturemereading December 9, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    LOL I love the kind of ‘relationship’ comparison you are making with book reading. I feel the same way LOL

  3. Kyle @ A Reader's Pensieve December 9, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    I DNF books all the time because I firmly believe there are too many good books out there to read and I also firmly believe that I am the problem. I love YA but sometimes I can’t handle some characters, especially in romances/love triangles. My mood also really affects the books I read; if I am in some kind of funk, I might not enjoy a book I know I’d normally like.

    Every once in a while, I’ll pick up books I’d previously DNFed, but honestly, I get so many from the library and it’s pretty hard to convince myself to check out a book again that I didn’t finish. If I own them or they’re from my classroom library, I’m more likely to pick them up again. I’m also likely to pick them up again if a friend loves them…then I feel like it needs a second chance.

    Basically, I have no answer. I come back to some, don’t come back to others…

    Some books that I picked up at the wrong time and need to try again: Anna and the French Kiss (I KNOW), Girl of Fire and Thorns (again, I KNOW), Chime, The Girl in the Steel Corset

  4. Brittany December 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    I know exactly how you feel!! I think sometimes I get swayed by people’s reviews and I’m like “Why didn’t I like this more?” But the fact is, I don’t. I was iffy with Jellicoe Road (although I hadn’t considered not finishing, but that was definitely one I was like WHY DON’T I LIKE THIS MORE.
    I absolutely marked Shatter Me as DNF just because I didn’t like the language (it was too overly-descriptive for me) and after seeing everyone’s reviews of how amazing the story was, I started to reconsider my DNF marking…. Then I read a selection of text that reminded me why I didn’t like it in the first place and knew my feelings were right!
    I just started Reached by Ally Condie and I was still upset from Crossed added with the fact that it’s a huge and overwhelmingly long book AND that I wasn’t quite sure I was in the mood for a dystopian, so I loaned it out and am taking a break! I definitely want to get back to it eventually.
    Then there was one that sat on my shelf (a cozy mystery that I wasn’t enjoying) that I couldn’t even bring myself to pick it up again so after 4 months of not reading, I just marked it as DNF and gave up.
    Love the post! So much fun to talk about.

  5. boundandgaggedbooks December 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Sometimes it’s my short attention span, sometimes I don’t have the time or the emotional investment is too weirdly personal, sometimes it’s just not a book worth reading.

  6. L. Palmer December 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Sometimes I’ll read something light and fluffy, something I’ve read before, in order to clear my mind. Then I’ll go back to denser materials and books.

  7. Jamie B. (@brokeandbookish) December 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    It’s SO hard sometimes because some of my favorite books I was wary about 50 pages in and didn’t have that instant OMG WE ARE MEANT TO BE feeling so if I would have DNFed them it would have been horrible!

    I think sometimes for me it’s such a mood thing. When I was really stressed about wedding stuff I was reading The Scorpio Races and I just could not get into it. I think it was the writing (something I normally would have appreciated very much) was not conducive to me flying through and escaping.I feel like I want to reread it now and see if I love it more. Because it seems like SUCH a me book.

    ANYWHO. You know my feelings on this since we share a brain apparently 😛

  8. Alexa Loves Books (@alexalovesbooks) December 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    I definitely have mood swings when it comes to my reading but, like you, I think I’ve experienced them enough to be able to tell when it’s just me or when it really is the book I’m reading.

    I usually just set aside the book if I feel like I can’t get into it at the moment , but know that I DEFINITELY will end up liking it (which happened fairly recently with Maria V. Snyder’s Scent of Magic). This usually results in me forgetting about the titles for a good while, being pleasantly surprised to see them again and then reading them from start to finish.

    I RARELY (a.k.a. have yet to) DNF a book, although I know that’s something I should start learning how to do. I always can tell when I really wouldn’t like a book, but I’m silly and hardwired to just keep on reading it anyway. This is one of my goals for 2013!

    (We totally feel the same way about these things, by the way.)

  9. Candice December 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Definitely feeling you there! I have SOOO many DNF books and I hate that. Not because I’m not enjoying them or not excited about them, but because I’m not really in the mood for them and sadly, I just don’t pick them back up. I make it a rule of mine to not read anything that I don’t think I’m going to like. Like if the subject seems questionable, I won’t give it a chance. Obviously, I’m a rule breaker, so this doesn’t really stick (thank goodness or I’d never have gotten to the fabulousness that is Cinder!) but I think why waste time on a book that doesn’t really appeal to me just to say I’ve read it or can review it? But I also know that a lot of times it isn’t the book; it’s me. Some books just don’t appeal to me, and that’s okay. And if I don’t finish it because I’m bored to tears, well that’s okay too!

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