#DNF’ing Books

DNFing a book, also known as “Did Not Finish”, isn’t a thing I do often. Every now and then, if a book is taking me a long time to read, I do DNF it. Most of the time I do so regrettably, though at other times, I do so with a sense of relief.

What causes a reader to put a book down? For me, there are a variety of reasons. As I said above, if it’s taking too long, that’s a good indicator that I’m not going to finish the book. This could be be cause I’m simply not getting into the book enough to read fast enough. Other times it’s because the book is just that bad, but I’d been trying to push through. To be fair, “bad” can mean a variety of things, even to one reader. Most of the times for me, it’s a relative term to my mood. Luckily, I haven’t come across too many books that are flat-out bad (as in poorly written, hard-to-stomach lack of polishing, etc). Some books just aren’t for every reader. It happens. We come across them, and we learn what we enjoy from these encounters.

So, why am I writing a post about DNF books? Well, I seem to be DNFing books a bit more often lately. This seems to be due to the fact that I now have access to a larger range of books than even my collection back in New York (total between NY and Colorado is now just over 2500 books, WOOT) holds. Meaning…I’m using my local library often, maybe too often. It’s the first time in my life I’ve regularly used a library. It’s addicting. You should all try it.

Now that I have access to many of the books that’ve been on my TBR for years, I’ve found that some weren’t worth the wait (for me, maybe not any of you). It’s a little sad because I’ve had high hopes for a few. But at the same time, it’s simply a new experience to deal with because I don’t own the books. I didn’t go out and buy them, whether full price or for a dollar used. It’s almost as if I never touched the book for a few of them. I took it out of the library, read 50 pages, brought it back. And I can just move on to the next. And an even greater thing: I can borrow it again a year from now and it might fit my reading mood better. Who knows.

What I’m getting at is that I find this whole borrowing books from the library thing to be a very liberating experience. It’s also a little overwhelming because I can create too large of a TBR by X date pile easily, but we can get into that in another post. When the financial and space aspect is taken away from reading, things work out differently. I never thought those two things factored into reading, but even on a subconscious level, I guess they were always there.

What are your DNF habits? Do you have a set page count before you can DNF? Do you not DNF and just push through? Every reader has their own way to go about things. I’d love to hear how you handle it.

Feed Your Reading Habit for Free…Legally

We all love books and we love to read. That’s why you’re here reading a book blog. Well, maybe you just stumbled upon this post and weren’t expecting it to be about books. I hope you stick around.

Having a reading habit is possibly one of the healthiest habits to have. However, with the benefits of a good book, comes financial burdens that put limits on what we can read or what we can eat. There is a light at the end of this tunnel though. Books don’t have to break your bank account!

It’s not a new concept to be able to read freely. Ever since the cost of producing books drastically decreased and they were made widely available, libraries of all kinds started popping up. In today’s world almost all of these libraries offer patrons the chance to read books for free. This is common knowledge, but there’s a point I’ll get to…

The great thing about living in the digital age of books is that readers aren’t tethered to the physical library any more. While the actual library is an important institution for any community (they aren’t there just for holding books, but offer many programs and events essential to their community), having libraries offer digital collections expands access and ease of patronage.

You may recall that earlier this year I finally got a library card, after being without one for many years. How many books have I taken out of the library so far? None. But, I have borrowed a handful of both ebooks and audiobooks from them. Without getting into the politics of libraries, for me, this is supporting my local branch as much as I can without transport to the building itself being easy to obtain. And at the same time, it’s access to free books to feed my reading habit.

An offshoot of the library that’s becoming more popular around the country, and I’m sure the world, is little free libraries. These are normally small enclosed bookshelves on sidewalks near a person’s home. You walk by and borrow a book and maybe add one of your own to the collection, or bring one back when you’re done reading. It’s a great way to get people reading a variety of books, and to maybe give away some books from your collection you think can find a better home through a free library. I found out that there’s one not too far from my library, in town, and while it’s out of the main flow of foot traffic, I hope it has a steady flow of readers visiting it.

Maybe libraries aren’t the way you want to go. Maybe you want to “own” books and go back to them whenever you want. Here’s where ebooks and audiobooks come back into the conversation. There are many resources online to obtain free digital books and I’ll list out a few for you to check out. And don’t worry. These are all legal sites. With a combination of using sites from this list and use of your local library, there’s no reason why piracy should look appetizing. The resources are there to read at little to no cost, so why not keep it legal.

  • PROJECT GUTENBERG – I’m sure many of you have heard about Project Gutenberg. This is the ultimate site for free ebooks online. The only limitation is that the books are all from pre-1923 (with a few exceptions). So if you’re looking for a classic book, 99.999% of the time you’ll find it here. It’ll also be in any digital format you need. The reason these are all free, and legally so, is because PG is populated with public domain (out of copyright) books. Many libraries, Amazon, and other major retailers will also have these versions loaded onto their sites. (note that this is for public domain books in the US. Each country has their own laws and I think a site for themselves. I know Australia has one with different titles than the US site.)
  • LIBRIVOX.ORG – Think of this as the audiobook equivalent of Gutenberg. This site is filled with all the public domain books narrated by volunteer readers. It’s one of the ways I’ve gotten through many classic books. And we all know how expensive audiobooks can be. Free narrations are a blessing, and these volunteers are doing readers a great service.
  • AMAZON, B&N, KOBO, SMASHWORDS, ETC -I already mentioned that these sites are loaded with the public domain books for free. And we all probably know what I’ll say next: There are THOUSANDS of free books from legit retailers, like those listed above. I didn’t bother with linking because it’s easier to let you search for yourselves. Want a book in a specific genre? Search it, and sort low-to-high by price. Want to see if an author’s offering books for free? Search the author, sort, again. It’s simply and a great way to discover new authors. I know many of my favorite authors came from discovering them randomly like this. Yes, you will have to weed through a lot of duds, however you’d like to do that is up to you. I’m not being judgmental in this post. Helping weed the garden of books is a topic for another day.
  • (Another topic for another day is subscription services. For example Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Just to touch on it briefly…don’t come to me telling me your book is “#Free on #KU” because it’s not. It’s “free” because someone paid the $9.99 each month to use the service. Don’t falsely advertise that. Just tell is like it is. *rant over*)

Are there more places to get legal free books? Of course. I only touched the major ones that I use almost every day. I barely have an income. I make a few cents a month by selling my books, when I sell them. We all need a little help sometimes, so go out and explore the free book world. I know it’s the only way I was able to jump into the book world as deep as I have. My print collection may be massive, but it was also years of work, and filled with mostly cheap used books. Nothing to be ashamed of. Reading is reading. And if we don’t feed our habits, we might do something drastic…like turn on a TV *gasp*

Half-Read Books: A Reading Confession

Today I’d like to show you a pile of books.

IMG_2716It’s a nice sized pile, isn’t it? Notice anything about it? Not the titles (some well-known ones in there, I know). Run your eye down the left-hand side. You might notice some paper, even a piece of string. What’s all that? Well, if you didn’t guess already, those are bookmarks.

This, my loyal readers, is my pile of half-read books. Aside from a few that I didn’t feel like stacking up on the pile and a few on my Kindle, this is my pile of books that I’ve started and haven’t (yet) finished. Some are from recent weeks. A few, like the Nick Hornby, were started two years ago. (In defense of the Hornby, its columns he wrote for a The Believer, and I don’t feel that they need to be read in a rush.)

It seems like I have a problem. I admit, it is somewhat of a problem that I’d like to fix. There are periods of time when it doesn’t occur, however, reading a portion of a book and putting it down only to have another catch my eye  and start reading that instead has shown me something about myself as a reader. And that is what I’d like to discuss today.

There are many things that plague my reading life. I get easily distracted. I find it hard to sit and read for long periods of time. Because of this, reading one novel could take a week (average, and I’d be pleased with that) or longer. Other readers will devour these same books in a day. Luckily, even with this big different in reading “speed” I think I still enjoy the story the same as devourerers (did I make up a word or just spell it wrong? Oh well.) More on that in a bit. It’s rare that I’ve read a book in one day, but it has happened. Reading one in 2-3 days is an accomplishment for me. Those are often the ones that BLOW ME AWAY, not just blow me away.

I’m not trying to get a pity party going. I know I’m not alone in some of these reading struggles. It’s how we’re built. I can’t, often, read a book straight through even when I love it. I said it. I’m proud. I’m a reader. That’s all that matters. What I would like to focus on is some of the interesting things I’ve noticed in the last few years.

As a kid I devoured some books. When the Animorphs series came out, I read almost the entire series. Many were read almost as they were released. Then I stopped reading, unless it was assigned to me. It was in high school that I discovered books again, but it was also when I realized I don’t read fast. It took me months to read Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (one of the first books I bought when I discovered the local used bookstore). While I read that, I also started and finished A Farewell to Arms and many of his short stories. I didn’t think much of this until recently.

Once I started blogging, my reading frequency picked up. I also didn’t have as big of a pile of half-read books until the last year(ish). I got busy. My mind started wandering. It happens. A great thing about blogging, and more importantly reviewing, my memory for books seems to have gotten much better. Or, I never gave my memory as much credit as it deserved. This is one of the key factors to not being (t00) ashamed of my half-read pile.

Most of the books you see pictured above, I can jump right back into and feel like I never put it down. It might take a page or two to recall what I need to keep going, but that’s all. I never would have thought I’d be able to finish some books without restarting them, but I feel that I’ve grown as a reader to the point that these things stick in my head for a long time. Well, once I finish a book, I tend to start forgetting things. But that’s what my reviews are for, and one of the main reasons I started reviewing. They help jump-start my memory after I’m done.

*To interrupt your regularly scheduled reading of this post, I’d like to point out that this is the point of the post where real life started calling. I had to stop writing it, and didn’t get back to finishing the post until more than 24 hours later. Ironic isn’t it? Half-written post on half-read books. I now your regularly scheduled reading, already in progress*

An example of this, World After by Susan Ee. This book was released in November of 2013. I got the book around that time and even started it then. It’s admittedly a fast, very engaging read. But I put it down at some point. Read a chapter or two in 2014…and now I picked it back up the night I started this post. this time, I plan on going to the end. I have less than 100 pages to read now and I’m loving the book. Funny thing is that the same thing happened when I read the first book in the series, Angelfall. It went a little more than half-read until close to release day for book 2. The third book, End of Days is coming out in May and it seems that history has repeated itself. Though, when I get my hands on that book, I’ll have to remind myself there’s no fourth book to wait for and that I should read it in one sitting. The series deserves that after what I’ve put it through.

One of the downfalls of this half-reading habit is that I often tell people “yea, that book is on my TBR” or “It’s next on my list. Can’t wait to read it.” Seems innocent enough. Turns out that I say this much too often, and even if I did start the book soon after saying that, I come to realize I have a long line of books on my Kindle that I said I was going to read months ago. This happened in the last few months of 2014. I met many new authors, got myself some great looking books (and also had some gifted to me), had the intention to plow through the pile. I think, as of today, I’ve read two from the pile. That’s almost nothing. I don’t feel too guilty about this. We have our reading speeds. We have lives. No one expects things. I just don’t like feeling left out of things, especially when I interact with most of these authors daily.

So, to all authors out there: You may remember (or not) whether or not I have your book on my pile(s). You may remember that I said I’d be getting to it soon. I doubt that soon came soon enough. Luckily, I don’t forget most of what I own, and I have every intention of reading it in the next ten years. (Eh, figured I’d close this out in a light note.)

As always, comment with your thoughts. Do you half-read? I’m sure many of you can’t fathom it. Totally understand that too. I know some of you probably start from the beginning, as well. For me, that’d get into rereading territory, and that’s a topic for a totally different post.

Speaking of topics for posts, I’m running on empty here. Tell me what you’d like to read. Tell me if you’d like to write up your own guest post. I’m open to almost anything. Just shoot me a message though the contact form with topic ideas or guest post inquiries. I’d love to hear from you all about anything (almost anything. I have my limits…maybe.)

Now, to read more of this weekend’s book…WORLD AFTER