On the DNF: It’s Okay to Not Finish Every Book You Pick Up

Can’t finish a book? Enlist your friends for help!

I used to be the sort of person who struggled and slogged through a book for months, completely intent on finishing it, no matter how long it took. Other books piled up around me—many for years and years—as the evil book in question stared at me wherever I went, mocking, taunting me, saying Why aren’t you reading me? You’re still on page 37. Come on, pick me up!

Meet the dreaded DNF, also known as the “Did Not Finish” book. This is the book you’ve picked up, started to read a few pages, and then it dawns on you…this book is awful. Yet, for some reason, insanity compels you to keep reading, page after page after page. It doesn’t get better. You procrastinate by going on Goodreads or Amazon to check out reviews. This book gets amazing halfway through! says one ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review. So you keep reading. You’re halfway through and it still doesn’t seem to be getting any better. You begin to curse that Amazon reviewer. It must’ve been a friend of the author, you think angrily, throwing your cold mug of tea across the room, startling the cat. They have to be paid reviews!

For many years, I thought it was sacrilegious to give up on a novel. Sure, I DNF’d a couple of books over the decade, but for the most part, I kept reading until the very end. Over the past year, I’ve found it much harder to read a lot, and that’s made it a lot easier to DNF. When you’re not reading very many books in the first place, why should those books all be ones that you’re not enjoying? It’s a surefire way to turn you off reading for life—it’s almost as effective as the terrible literary fiction they make you read in high school (I’m looking at you, Bypass by Michael McGirr!).

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You Shouldn’t Be Judging Books By Their Movies

An anonymous person, commonly quoted as J.W, Eagan, told us you should never judge a book by its movie. They have to be right, don’t they? A terrible movie will probably be based off a great book! Books are beautiful precious things that can tell a story with only your imagination to keep it thriving. The book is always better than the movie! How can a movie, which involves like barely any effort, be the same as a novel? The film is barely ever faithful, removes important characters (Peeves the Poltergeist, and Madge from The Hunger Games are the most important characters ever!!), and adds useless subplots that f*** up the beauty and the imagination. Not to mention the actors never look like who I imagined! Grr!

Or not. Books don’t have anything that immediately make them greater than films or even video games. There’s bad books. I’ve read plenty of them in my time. I can’t stand most straight romances except a bunch of my mum’s ones from the ’80s (Little Sister, The Popularity Plan) and those from my trashy YA stage in early high school (South Beach). I still remember the awful books I read in high school: Bypass by Michael McGirr and Deadly, Unna by Phillip Gwynne, that almost turned me off reading for life. I got through Fifty Shades of Grey and seven chapters of Fifty Shades Darker. Those are not good books. The later, ghostwritten Vampire Diaries books make me weep for the future of fiction. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child…well, let’s not go there. Books, by virtue of being books, aren’t necessarily the greatest things ever. The same for movie aficionados, and video game enthusiasts. There’s good and bad.

Should we be judging a book by its movie? Well, of course not. I think that speaks for itself. They’re completely different mediums, interpreted in different ways. See: The Shining by Stephen King, and The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Shocking revelation: I dislike both of them. In this case, Stephen King really loathes Kubrick’s interpretation of The Shining, as it’s completely different to what he wanted. I can’t be surprised: I don’t think I’ve found a single faithfully adapted Stephen King movie. Both have a completely different vibe, and that’s because it’s by two different people who have different visions for the story. The film of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, has a bit of an indie, hipster vibe about it, which the book doesn’t. Popular opinion says the Azkaban film is the greatest one, better than the book. Others like me, prefer the Christopher Columbus vibe of the first two, and wished there’d been a mixture between Columbus’s interpretation, and the forgettable dude who directed Goblet of Fire.

Adapting from a book to movie can be quite difficult. Making it as faithful to the book as possible is impossible, especially if it’s a long book like Harry Potter with a lot of plot. Except if you’re Stephen Chbosky. Alternatively, the Twilight Saga is like seventy-bajillion pages  with little to no plot, and the films still managed to miss crucial plot details. In spite of all this, I thought I should go ahead and tell you some of the greatest film adaptations and some of the shittiest ones. Because we all know there are great books and terrible books, just like there are amazing films and God-awful films:

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