Guys, I did it. The unthinkable. I Did Not Finish a book — The Picture of Dorian Gray, to be specific. I never do this; I usually see each book I read through to the end, regardless of how terrible it is. In fact, I sometimes read books I’m not enjoying faster than books I do like; I blitzed through Zadie Smith’s On Beauty in about three days thinking that the quicker I read it, the sooner I could move on to something that didn’t bore me to tears.
Not so this time. I was really excited to read The Picture of Dorian Gray after finishing The Importance of Being Earnest, which I really enjoyed. But I Just. Can’t. Get into it. I know it’s a classic and a very good book, but it’s not doing it for me right now. For days I’ve been distracting myself with the other books I’m reading (and too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy) because I feel no desire to pick up Wilde’s masterpiece. It finally dawned on me that I don’t have to finish reading it. I can sneak it back onto my TBR shelf and try it again later, at a time when I might be more able to fully appreciate this classic novel. It’s actually kind of refreshing to admit (temporary) defeat and move on to one of the contemporary works I’ve been craving.
I don’t think DNFing will become a habit of mine, and I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m able to stop reading The Picture of Dorian Gray with out guilt is that I’m pretty sure I will enjoy reading it at some point in the future, but it feels good to put this book on hold right now.
What’s your policy on finishing (or not finishing) books? Do you slog through the worst of them, or do you gaily toss a book aside if you’re not feelin’ it? Do you have a special criteria for deciding whether to give up or push on?