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April 25, 2013

To Review or Not to Review

After last week's post, you may be thinking I'm going to lament more on whether should write reviews. By the way, thank you to all who answered the poll question - look for recommendation lists starting in May. But, no, this isn't a continuation on last week's topic.

I saw a tweet about a review for a DNF (did not finish). I make it a policy that if I don't finish a book I don't review. But then I started thinking perhaps just saying that I didn't finish a book is a review (a non-review review?) and that it could be interpreted negatively.

To be honest, I rarely don't finish a book. I know a lot of bloggers who will put down a book if they aren't into it because they have so many books to get through and don't want to waste their time on a book they aren't going to like. For me, it is VERY difficult not to finish a book. Since I started a DNF shelf at Goodreads, I've only place 6 books on the shelf. Several of them are audio books I checked out from the digital library and they auto returned before I finished it.

What makes you decide not to finish a book?

Like I said, it is very difficult for me. Yet, I have a ton of books I want to get through so if I'm not into the book I should set it aside. I think my DNF is actually more of a to be continued list. I read according to my mood, but sometimes I get sick of reading the same genre. It's usually the "one to many" book that doesn't get finished. It might not have anything really to do with the book, just me having hit my saturation point with a certain type. These books usually go back into my TBR pile for a future look.

If I've struggled with an author before, then I'm likely to give up sooner. On my DNF shelf is a John Grishman. I loved his early novels - The Firm, Pelican Brief, etc. - and devoured them. Then I read Bleachers and I finished it, but I wasn't really feeling it. So when I picked up The Brethren and had trouble getting into it I decided it would be a DNF. (I did try over the course of a month or more to get through it). 

Another book on my DNF shelf didn't seem to match the description of the book once I got started reading it. I probably spent close to a year trying to get into the story and read only a couple of chapters. It became my bathroom book - I was struggling that much with it.

What to do with a DNF?

This is not the first time I questions whether or not I should have a DNF shelf and if I should or shouldn't review a DNF. In 2011, I shelved a book DNF (it might have been the first time I did it as a book blogger) and someone asked me why I couldn't finish it. In that particular case, it was more about it not being what I was expecting and in a genre I'm pretty picky about.

I still don't think I should review a DNF. I have read several books that I thought about giving up on only to be super surprised at the ending and how the author brought everything together and loved the book. So it wouldn't be a fair assessment if I don't read until the end.

However, I also think a brief explanation should be provided as to why I didn't finish it. I try to do this on Goodreads (where I catalog all my books) when I place a book on the DNF shelf just so other readers won't be "turned off" just because I didn't finish it. Particularly if it was because the book auto returned and the waiting list is a month long for me to get it again.

How do you feel about DNF? As a blogger do you post a review? As a reader, what are your thoughts when a blogger says they didn't finish a book?

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  1. Usually if I don't finish, I don't review; I might leave a short note on Goodreads in my review section explaining why I didn't finish. HOWEVER... there are instances in which I do, which include if it is an Amazon Vine book (since they must ALL be reviewed), and if I have promised the author a review regardless. I have had a couple DNFs that rated three-stars, because while I didn't like them, I thought others might. Most DNFs that end up with a review are one-star, however (per my guidelines).

    Overall I don't think people should review books they haven't even TRIED to read, but there are definitely times when DNFs need to be reviewed. It's up to the individual reviewer, I guess. :-)

  2. I too have never actually not finish a book. If I get bored or frustrated I will put the book down and grab a new book. Later on when I feel better or have nothing else to read I will come back to the book, most of the time just to know what happens at the end. But then even if I finish it I sometime don't write a review. It just makes me more frustrated finding words to describe how I felt about the book.

  3. I love your discussion topics, apologies that I didn't get to read this post or write a reply ASAP but I kept the post on my email and I'm just clearing it out now.

    I'm like you it's very hard for me not to finish a book. Even if I'm not enjoying the book I'd still persevere if I have to review because I cannot review a book if I haven't finished it, unless of course I'm loving it, but more often than not if I'm loving it, I'd finish it straight away.

    I'm yet to post a review that's a DNF but my one crown rating is a DNF so I'd probably mention the good points and the reason as to why I couldn't finish the book, it wouldn't be mean. However, as you mentioned there are some books that go up in rating a few notches just because of it's ending but if I'm half way through a book and it's just not doing it for me, chances are it's not gonna have a great ending anyway.

  4. This my first time reading a post like this. Still, if a book falls into "DNF" I probably would just review what I read up to that point or not at all. You could always do a part 2 or 3 on the book. Just a thought. Kind regards