I Value My Time

Since the beginning of my reading life I’ve always struggled to put down books I’m not digging (do the youth still say this? I just turned 30 so I’m having this irrational panic that I’m suddenly out of touch). When I came into the book blogging world I quickly found that there were people who could so easily declare they were putting down books they weren’t into without even a second though (namely my bff Anna). I always WANTED to be so ruthless with putting down books I’m not enjoying but I guess it’s just not my personality.

Since blogging, I’ve gotten BETTER at it. I say better, as in, I’ll do it in those times when it feels likes wrestling an alligator just to get me to sit down with the book. But I still have some ways to improve…

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Last year I wrote about 8 reasons I struggle to put books down. Reason #2 on the list was that I’ve invested too much time in it. If I’m honest I think this is my BIGGEST struggle out of the eight — even more than just being nosy about the ending.

It’s a time issue for both types of readers — those ruthless book quitters and those who have a harder time.

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People who are big champions of putting down books they aren’t liking/aren’t into say things like “life is too short to read books you don’t like.” I myself have repeated this mantra over and over in my head when I’m trying to decide whether or not to mark a book as DNF (did not finish, for those unfamiliar with the lingo of the bookish interwebs).

But for the part of me that struggles to put down books? It’s also a time thing. Like okay I spent an hour (or whatever time amount) of my life reading this book. If I give up, then I feel as though that hour was a complete WASTE of an hour because I didn’t complete the story and I was just reading for no good reason.

 

So then I have this very hard choice at hand! (And I’m like the Queen of Indecision and Avoidance). To figure out what is the bigger waste of time

  1. Reading 1 hour of book and putting it down — and now I’m free to read something I might enjoy more but I’m out that hour with nothing to show for it. 
  2. Or spending 3 hours on a book that I didn’t like — I finished it (so yay I completed something) but I HAD TO FORCE MY WAY THROUGH IT or didn’t like it or whatever the problem was that made me considering putting it down. 

And then there’s all the other questions that swirl through my head: Do I see it as a waste of time by having read and interacted with a book even if it was torture making it through it? Will I be annoyed if I don’t find out what happens if I put it down? Can I ask someone what happens if I put it down? Is the value in giving up that hour worth not slogging through more of it? Should I persevere through books when they require more attention or are “harder” to read (ie classics)? Is reading a book for an hour and not finishing it any more of a waste of time than I do mindlessly surfing the interwebs? AM I OKAY WITH THIS LOSS OF AN HOUR?

I don’t really have any foolproof ways for knowing for calculating the value of my time — whether I’ll be happy I put it down or that it’s a better use of my time to slog through.

Sometimes I feel a THANK GOD I STOPPED READING THAT I WAS GOING TO THROTTLE MYSELF WITH MY SHOELACE IF I READ ONE PAGE MORE but other times I don’t feel strongly one way or another. I mean, sometimes I finish a book I wasn’t digging and it’s like “eh well. That was that.” And then there’s those few times it’s like OMG WHY DID I FINISH THAT STAB STAB STAB. It’s a toss-up most of the time! Then just as rare –– the times I LOVED it after slogging through.

I just know that I value my time and I want to make the best use of it — especially that every so precious reading time!

 

I’m more so really curious if this is something that anyone else struggles with! Do you DNF with ease or do you struggle like I do? HOW do you decide what is the better use of your time? Please tell me your thoughts on this!! Maybe your rationale will help me!!
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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. Honestly, I don’t DNF and likely never will. There definitely have been books that I was reading and wanted to throw them across the room then set them on fire instead of finishing, but I finish them. I’m very much of the “I already invested time in this, so I need to finish” mindset. Also, I have OCD. Like for real, not “Oh I’m OCD about this thing….” (which drives me freaking batty, don’t say that, it’s a real problem) And just the thought of leaving something incomplete makes me light headed, so I push through. It’s not worth the pending anxiety to consider DNFing.

    That was probably incredibly unhelpful. 😛

  2. I’ve come to the conclusion that if a book is not for me (even if it’s something I think I probably *will* end up liking, but just not right now), I have to let it go. It WILL become a major timesuck. I’ll do this thing where I don’t want to read it, but because I haven’t admitted I’m moving on, I won’t pick up anything else, either, and then days later when I haven’t read anything, I’ll start getting anxious and THEN feel like I’m wasting time, and like now I’ve devoted daaays to it with nothing to show, and then I end up in a rut.
    And it’s hard sometimes, because I think, especially in blogging, you get this feeling like you HAVE to read things that come your way, or your letting down the people that sent the books to you, or the readers/viewers that asked about it — but if I don’t let go (and get better about making that decision early and definitively), my entire reading life, and all of the other potentially amazing books in my stack (and my blog/vlog) end up suffering for it.
    I’ve had a lot of that happen this year, and it’s making me reevaluate everything.

  3. I’m sure someone will mention this, so I’ll go ahead and be that guy. What you’re struggling with is the sunk cost fallacy. (Apologies if you’ve already heard of this.)

    In short, a sunk cost is any cost you’ve already sunk into a venture. It could be money, or in this case, time and effort. The thing about sunk costs is that, once they’re spent, they’re GONE. You can’t get them back. To logically decide on your move from this point forward, they should be discounted entirely, because you can’t get them back. That time is gone.

    Which is where the fallacy comes into play—when people factor that sunk cost in (here, time and effort spent) when it’s already been paid, and therefore can’t be recovered. Economists would tell you to stop doing that. Ignore the sunk cost entirely, and decide whether it’s worth it to continue on with a book from this point only. If it is, go on! If not, stop. The sunk cost is irrelevant.

    For what it’s worth, once I internalized this, it helped me know when to put things down. In addition to reading a lot, I blog anime at Random Curiosity (as Stilts), and after four years of doing it, I’ve begun to learn when I should stop wasting my time with series. It took me a long time to have enough knowledge to do that with confidence, though.

    There’s another piece that I think is more important. I don’t think that time is wasted! Granted, I think of this mostly because of writing fiction, where I’ll throw away tens of thousands of words to get a single book—sometimes double the end length in rewrites, revamps, cut scenes, dead ends, etc.

    But even with books I’m reading, I don’t think it’s a waste. I always learn something, even if it’s only, “This book isn’t for me.” I get better at identifying which books won’t be for me. I find authors I like, others I don’t like, and of course for me, I learn what not to do when writing my own stories. For a book blogger like you, you’ll earn another example you can compare future books to.

    I definitely have that problem too! It’s just that, once I learned about the sunk cost fallacy and decided that none of it was really a waste (to me), it got a whole lot easier for me to figure out what to cut.

    Sorry for going off on a tangent. I know you weren’t asking for advice, but I’m an idiot and can’t help myself sometimes, haha. And for what it’s worth, some of my favorite stories are ones I had to force myself to start or finish (I still won’t watch Serenity, for some reason), so it’s never easy!

  4. I also struggle with DNFing books. Just like you, I think that I’ve invested my time in it and want to know how it plays out. My DNFs are usually books that I just forget about. Kindle books, older titles… when something new comes out that I’ve been waiting on I will forget I was reading that ebook because ebooks are totally out of sight out of mind for me.

    This year I’ve DNFed one book, and it was a fight. This was my process:
    1. I put the book down for a few days and read other things. This was to figure out if I’d miss the book or get curious about the outcome. (The answer was no.)
    2. I read the book jacket summary again to refresh my memory on why I wanted to read the book in the first place. This actually just frustrated me even more because the summary was giving away things that hadn’t even happened yet and that’s part of why I felt so bored.
    3. I started reading reviews on Goodreads. Normally I would avoid them for fear of spoilers, but I did not care at this point. I read good and bad reviews and tried to see if there was anything redeeming in the good reviews. I found that I was just grunting a lot at the positive ones but shouting AMEN at the negative ones.
    4. I picked the book up again but skipped over 2 whole chapters between where I’d left off and where I started again. Had anything interesting happened that I’d missed and wanted to know how it had come about? BIG FAT NO.
    5. Then I started reading just the last sentence in every chapter to try and catch any interesting cliffhangers that might amp my attention. ALSO NO.
    6. Finally, I read the last few pages of the book and found that I did not give one flying flip about how the end had come about. I DNFed the book after reading 2/3 and skimming the rest.

    Last year I finished a book that I ended up wishing I’d DNFed. I really hated it and it kind of wrecked one of my favorite authors for me by pointing out a style to her writing that I didn’t like and couldn’t help but also notice in her next book. However, there were 2 books I finished last year that were SO AWFUL, but I’m actually glad I did finish them because sometimes reading those terrible books can help give you a good grasp on your likes and dislikes.

  5. I totally understand what you’re saying about valuing your time. They’re so many books in the world, and it’s impossible to read all of them. You want the ones you do read to be worth your time. I’m not a big DNF person, but when I’m not into the book I’ll put it down to give myself a break. Then sometimes it’ll be forever or never till I come back to pick it up. It’s not like I don’t want to finish it, but I have no motivation to pick it up and I’ll begin another book I’m hoping to enjoy.

  6. while I’m vvv PRO-DNF I get both sides of the debate (? argument?) I try to only read/buy/request/accept books I know I’ll enjoy – I do a bit a research, read about them, check out reviews if they’re an older title. But there have still been some duds to work their way into the mix. Typically if I’m not feeling a book within 50 pages, that’s it. One book’s loss of 50 pages might not seen like anything more than a minor annoyance, but if I abandon three books? Four? That’s practically an entire book I could have read!

    So in that sense I totally get it. But I will always, always choose to move on to another (hopefully better!) book than spend my time with one I hate. In my mind it all evens out: in the time it takes me to slog and force my one through a book I’m hating I could have finished a fantastic one AND already be working my way through another.

  7. I’m not a blogger just a reader who reads alot. My TBR list is out of control. There are so many books I want to read that I decided I had to start putting down the books I’m not in too. It was so hard to mark them as DNF. I always finish what I start and so I went back and finished a few I marked as DNF and wished I hadn’t. I felt like I wasted my time so I decided instead of DNF I mark them as not for me. Just changing the wording has helped me. I try to read half of the book. If I really don’t like the characters or care how it ends then I’m done. I’ve looked back at my list and I still don’t care how those books end. I understand and also agree with feeling like I’ve wasted by time reading half a book I don’t like. I try to look at it like I am not going to waste anymore time on something I’m not in to. It gets easier each time I stop a book. That list is thankfully still small.

  8. I totally used to struggle with it and those two points were HUGE factors. I felt like I’d already spent time on it, so it was a waste to stop. Plus, I’ve never felt right rating and reviewing something I didn’t finish, so at least if I suffer through it, I can angrily type at it and rate it.

    However, I’ve come to see it more as sure I spent an hour on it, but at least I didn’t spend five? In that four I saved I read this adorable contemporary and now I have a big smile on my face. I find myself slumping because I’ll have a couple of those meh to bad books. I DNF them, get better books and enjoy reading much more.

    One thing though is that I do tend to DNF REALLY quickly in most cases. The other ones tend to be more the “every page feels like knives are being slid into my eyeballs” sort of books. If the writing or voice is immediately grating, I check reviews. Unless those give me hope (they usually don’t), that book is out of here. I’ve DNFed 60-some books this year and read over 200. Because of the DNFing, I like a lot more of what I’ve been reading and I probably read at a faster pace generally.

  9. I see it like playing poker. Yes, I already put $10 in the pot, which I will lose if i fold, but if I keep playing I’m likely to lose $100. I’d rather fold and make $200 on the next hand. 😉

  10. YOU KNOW MY THOUGHTS.
    Love always,
    Lurker

  11. I DNF with ease! There are just too many times where I wasn’t enjoying a book and I just didn’t feel it’d get better. I will usually do SOME sort of write-up for my DNFs (not necessarily a review since I don’t have enough to actually review but just write why I DNFed) so there’s something to show for that time and I can share with people why it didn’t work for me. Sometimes that reason is exactly why someone DOES want to read it!
    I’d much rather DNF than spend even more time on a book I don’t like. I struggle to fit in all of the books I DO want to read so anything that’s making me mad, I put down. I want to start a new book that I DO like and spend my time on that! I just can’t force myself to finish a bad book. I start skimming and then before you know it, I skip to the end just to see what happens haha. I’ll satisfy my curiosity by asking a friend or skipping to the end and most of the time, I’m glad I didn’t finish.
    And if you do DNF, you can always pick that book up again some other time if you just can’t get it out of your head! I don’t know if I’ve ever come back to a book because by the time I DNF I’m mad at it and don’t want it in my life haha! 🙂

  12. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’ll put books down after an hour and then never come back to them. I always think I will, but it’s rare – that’s why my “currently reading” Goodreads shelf generally has 6 or so books on it. But I look at that list of books and I’m not prepared to give up on any of them – I’m just not in the mood right now.

    I’m much better at DNFing if the book is making me mad or just moving way too slow.

  13. I struggle to DNF. I’ve only done it with a literal handful of books so far! I definitely have the same time-investment issue as you. I don’t like to read a book for a few hours and then put it aside, because then I don’t “count” it towards numbers or reading challenges. It’s kind of stupid when you think of it: regular (non-blogger) readers don’t have this issue! They can read 20 pages of 10 different books without as much of a problem. They may say “damn I wasted my time” but they won’t say “OMG MY GOODREADS CHALLENGE SHITTTTT” like we would. Truthfully, that seems to be my one deterrant from DNFing. I have a policy though where if I read 50% or more of the book and then DNF, I’ll still count it as “read” on Goodreads. If a book is over 200 pages long and I make it through 100, I deserve credit. Anything under 50% doesn’t count. I’ve DNFed two books after reading like 65% and didn’t feel bad about “allowing myself” to mark them as completed. Anyways, I have a post coming up about the difference between bloggers and readers, and this definitely made me think of a few more things to add..

  14. I have a hard time putting books down, too. Most of the time, I just slog through, even if I’m not into it. I just slogged through an entire series, hoping it would get better. It didn’t. It wasn’t horrible, just really boring. Sometimes, if I’m really not into a book, I’ll stop, but then pick it back up later, thinking it might be better this time around. Sometimes I like it better, but most times, I don’t.

  15. I find that when I’m not enjoying a book and I try to keep reading it… I end up just not reading at all! I’ll think, hmm I might like to read. But… That book’s not the greatest so I might just watch TV instead! For me that’s often how book slumps would start. I’d just end up not reading at all. I’ve started reading multiple books at once so there is always something in there that I’ll like at that moment. And if one just goes by the wayside… oh well!

  16. THAT TIME INVESTMENT. That is my big reason for being the worst at putting books down. I just think omg I have to finish otherwise I won’t have the number for my goodreads goal and my time will have been wasted.

    Also what if it ends up becoming good?

    Anyways.

    I just put a book down this week and immediately finished a different book that same day I put it down – like my brain was like YES FINALLY onto a good book.

  17. I get a lot of books from the library so that if I’m not feeling a book, I’ll just pick up another one instead, so that way, I always have lots of options and don’t feel forced to read anything that doesn’t grab me.
    On the other hand, I’ve suffered through the first part of a book only to discover something good in the middle and the book turns around completely and gets good in the end (the reverse also happens, more frequently)
    http://runwright.net/2015/10/21/3-frogs-on-a-log/

  18. Oh man, I’m totally one of those people who HAVE A HARD TIME DNF-ING BOOKS. I always feel like every time I give up on a book, I’m disappointing the book god. Or genie. Whatever. But yeah. It feels like I’m disappointing everybody. But at the same time, I also realised that I have a huge TBR and life is too short to waste it on horrible books. But again I’ll ask myself — what if at that time, I’m just in a sucky mood? What if I’m just being horribly judgey about a book? So far in my whole entire bookish life, I have only DNF 4 books. Is that bad? I don’t know! And honestly? I’m scared if I start DNF-ing every book that just sucks, I would DNF more and more and more and in the end, I’ll have more in my DNF pile than in the Books-I-Enjoy pile. SIGHS.

  19. I struggle with DNFing too. I only really started doing it within the last year, and usually I find myself wanting to push through. What if it gets better later on?? But when I do decide to put a book down, I usually look at it in two ways. If it’s a series, I’ve saved myself from investing time into that series. And secondly, if I don’t like a book, I won’t keep it. So I’ve freed up shelf space and hopefully I can sell it back to a used book store and get money to get something I do want or else I can donate it and someone else will get a book that they might like. (And it’s from the library it’s like an even keel on my time. It’s not like I’m avoiding working to read. I read because I want to.)

  20. I’m somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I’m very ruthless about DNFing a book and other times I just… can’t. Or won’t. Or whatever. I think it depends on a lot of things, like sometimes if I like an author but not the book, I have trouble putting it down. Or if I’ve heard so many wonderful reviews of a book, it’s hard to not finish it, especially because I feel the need to validate my dislike of the book by at least saying I read it entirely… which is a little ridiculous. Anyway, this is something I would like to work on as well. Lovely post!

  21. I push through with books all of the time and then really regret it. The worst thing is picking up a book that everyone seems to love and just not enjoying it. It’s like hey, I wasted so many of my life reading this and I got nothing out of it whatsoever!

    I agree with you about it feeling like a waste of time as you get older, when I was younger I felt like I could read any book that was in front of me and loose a whole day like it was no big deal and now I think of all the things I could’ve been doing rather than spend a whole afternoon reading.

    Mel ♥ everyword.meljwills.com

  22. Before my job pretty much came a series of DNFs (I cannot begin to tell you how many 10- and 50-page samples I’ve read), I had a difficult time putting down a book, even if I wasn’t into it. Like you, I’d feel like I’d just wasted an hour of my life if I DID DNF, but then there’s that compulsive side of me to just power through the bad stuff because maybe something good would come from it in the end (totally thinking of my AP Gov and calculus high school classes now).

    But in my experience, as my time was eaten up with Adulting and I wanted nothing more than to relax with a good book, I started to DNF more easily. I’d rather waste an hour of my time realizing this isn’t the book for me than wasting several hours and being in a bad head space, you know? Ain’t nobody got time for negativity!

  23. I have gotten better about DNFing a book, but I never make the decision lightly. Moreover I never stop obsessing about a book I have set aside. This, to me, is one of the reasons why I do not DNF books more often. I need to know how it ends. Also, I think it is rather rude of me to set aside a book over which someone labored. If they spent the time writing it, and I chose to read it, doesn’t the author deserve to have a reader finish what they started? Lastly, I live in perpetual hope that a book will always get better. I remain hopeful a story will improve until I get to the final page. I’d say that my experience is 50/50 in that regards.

    I know. This is not helping you with your own decision-making, but just know you are most definitely not alone in the struggle.

  24. This is so me! I used to be more about the whole “well I spent ALL of this time already and I’m more than halfway through I might as well finish” thing. In blogging, that is. Before blogging, I’d put down books when I was ALMOST finished with them and never went back. I was a weirdo then. Haha. But when I blogged and started reading ARCs, I started forcing myself to get through them because it was like “well I have to review it so” and that wasn’t fun AT ALL. In fact, I think when I forced myself through a book, the more I hated it. Nowadays I’m more about that DNF button. I do value my time, and I’d rather waste only one hour than 6 hours finishing a book that made me want to throw it at the wall. Life IS too short for all the books, and I want to get to the ones I’m actually ENJOYING more than staying with the principle of not wasting the time I already invested on the book. I don’t DNF lightly, and I rarely ever actually DO it. But I plan on spending a lot of 2016 going through my NG backlog of review books and I’m saying that I don’t have to finish all of them. And I’m okay with that. And hey, maybe someday I’ll go back to the book I DNFed and end up liking it! But for now, I want to make sure my time is spent ENJOYING things, and I want that especially with the books I read.

    It’s always fascinating to see what other people think of DNFing and why they either will or won’t do it. We’re all so different, and it’s interesting to compare our reading habits to others. And I wish there was a foolproof way of knowing whether continuing a book would be worth my time or not, but gah. IF SOMEONE INVENTS THAT, IT’D BE REALLY REALLY NICE, I’M JUST SAYIN’.

  25. Mindy Mac says:

    The older I get the easier it gets to DNF. I struggle with it feeling like cheating to mark a book as “read” if I finished less than 30%, but that’s a whole other issue. I found that actually valuing my time in a monetary sense has helped me. Like if I make $25 an hour, and finishing a book is about 5 hours then am I really ok with $125 lost!!!! I know it’s a flawed system, but it’s helped me a number of times to say”nope, enough is enough” and put down a lackluster book. I also hate when something that is supposed to be joyful and entertaining starts to feel like work, so if that feeling starts creeping in, I try and stop. That being said I’ll routinely skim the end of a DNF to see what happens or go to the interwebs to figure out the overall plot and ending.

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