Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I want to have a break-up conversation of the “It’s not me, it’s you” variety. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage, chocolate, or ice cream and let’s discuss book break-ups, aka the DNF.

I used to feel guilty about DNFing (Did Not Finish) a book. Maybe it was a holdover of well taught Catholic guilt, but I never DNFed a book, no matter how poorly written or how much I wanted to strangle one of the characters. I persevered through countless books I ended up hating because I felt bad for them. I couldn’t help it.

I no longer have that problem. I say no, guilt free, to plenty of books these days.

This change of heart happened because am an actual adult now with an actual job and a family who expects me to spend time (time I used to spend reading) doing crazy, time consuming things, like cooking/serving 2+ meals a day, laundry, dishes, a paying job, and just enough housework to keep Mr. R from getting annoyed. In between my adult duties, I self-publish my own books and read, a lot. I average about a book a week, more than most I know, but less than others.

The blunt point is my reading time is precious and less frequent than it used to be. I refuse to waste it on books I don’t like.

If you, like me, have found your time is too precious to waste, here are some guilt free reasons to DNF a book. Bonus: with Liz Lemon.

#1 – You are not in the mood.


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Yesterday, you really wanted, no needed, to read that post-apocalyptic erotic romance by Kit Rocha, but today you need something sweeter. You should not feel bad about putting one book on hold to start another. Unlike past relationships, books will always wait for you and you should pick that Rocha book back up later. When you are in the mood. Go binge those dragon shifters then flounce back to Regency romance. All is well.

#2 – The character/plot/writing style is so awful or insipid you are afraid that if you keep reading you may strangle the character/author/or yourself.


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Just say no to this one. Put it down and do not look back. I give a book 100 pages or about 50% to turn around a bad plot, a TSTL character, or mediocre writing. If, after that, the book is still making me want to claw my eyes out, I switch books and never look back. It is also unlikely I will go back to that author unless I get a great recommendation from someone I trust.

#3 – A TSTL or useless female lead or an alphole hero.


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This one is related to #2, but has it’s own category because it annoys me that much. Sidenote: I will also breakup with TV shows displaying one of these two characters without relief. If the female lead always needs rescuing and is a complete idiot, I can’t like her enough to care that she is in peril and I definitely do not want her to get the guy. Alternatively, if all the female characters in a story are two dimensional or completely absent (not in romance usually, but other genres populated by men*), I am out. I want to see myself in the story and I am neither an idiot nor useless.

If all the males, and especially the lead, are alpholes, I am gone. An alphole is a term in the romance community which means an alpha asshole. A good, recent example of this is Christian Grey. You know this guy. He treats other people like dirt and he always has to be in charge because he is better than everyone else… in his own mind. The worst part is there is usually no true redemption or grovelling. If you are an alphole, there better be some epic character development and groveling. Hands and knees, flat before God groveling. And even then, I may not forgive you.

#4 – I need a break.


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Sometimes, I read non-fiction or heavy fiction (Literature)**. I read a little and take breaks, interspersing my forays into improving my mind with genre fiction. After some nice shifter or regency or post-apocalyptic novels, I will go back to the non-fiction or Literature. Most of the time. Sometimes, the non-fiction is too boring or the fiction is so prose heavy and sad, I just can’t, so I leave. No looking back.

That’s it. Those are the four reasons I DNF books or take a break from them. All in all, I probably only DNF about 5-7 books a year.

Next time you start feeling like you just can’t bear another page. Quit. Say no guilt free. Life is too short to spend it reading books you don’t like when there are so many great books out there.

*wide generalization, sorry, it is sometimes true and sometimes not.

**Let’s not start in on the whole what is “literature” argument. It is a good conversation and I have opinions, but not right now.

This month I am giving away ebooks to some of my newsletter subscribers and I promise, you will not want to DNF them.



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