DNFing Books: Time Wasted vs. Money Wasted

Coffee Time

Hi, today I wanna talk about DNFing books and the struggle I tend to go through while contemplating it.

Let me preface this by saying that I tend to buy books. I do have a library available to me as well, but this discussion is specifically about after one has spent money on a book and decides it’s not great. So saying ‘just get it from the library’ isn’t a good solution when the dollars are already gone from my wallet.


Late January, a book came out that I was highly anticipating. You can probably guess from my ‘Currently Reading’ post if you saw that, but I’m not going to state which it is specifically because I’m still not sure if I’m going to quit it or finish it.

So, I bought the book new from the bookstore – new release as stated, kinda impossible to get it super cheap. The list price of the thing was $30, but with coupons/etc I got it for $20. Twenty is still a lot for me to pay for a book. I like used books and heavily-couponed/discounted/on sale books. So really, if I pay more than like $13 or so for a book, I really really want that book. I did really want this book, so I forked over the twenty bucks without complaint.

Then, I started reading it. I knew within fifteen pages that I wasn’t going to love it, but I kept reading because ‘You spent twenty bucks on this thing’ popped into my head and I hate wasting five bucks on an unfinished latte because it got cold (pop ice in and boom: iced latte) let alone twenty bucks on a book that I hadn’t even read 10 percent of.

Now, I do not have a problem in general with DNFing books – I have a shelf on goodreads of all the books I’ve put down. But I noticed a trend with them after having difficulty with this current book. All the DNFs were either library books, borrowed from friends, or purchased used or discounted. None of them were.. well, a twenty dollar book. And that made me think…

How much time are we willing to waste on something we don’t enjoy, and does it change with how much money is involved?

Because… if I had spent $5 on this book, I would have put it down by now. I’m absolutely certain. The money-to-time-spent ratio is more… justified, I guess. (For the coffee mentioned above, I get that thing for thirty minutes before it’s cold – you bet your butt I’m finishing it.) If I had spent $10… would I have? I don’t know. Why does the amount of money spent on a book determine how much time I’ll spend not enjoying it?

How much do I feel my time is worth? It’s easy to say ‘I’d rather eat the five bucks and move on to the next book’ but saying ‘I’d rather eat the twenty bucks and move on’, that’s harder. And I don’t feel that it’s tied to my income either – when I was in college I was making minimum wage, and I’d still quit a five dollar book no problem.

And does it change, depending on the person? If you spent $20 on a book, were half way through, and were certain it was going to end up a 1 or 2 star book, would you finish it? What if the book made you angry? What if it made you bored? What if it made you confused?

I think the emotion felt while reading a disliked book also plays into it. 

I definitely tend to finish books that make me angry. Hate-reading is its own source of enjoyment and motivation. I tend to hate-read a lot of bad romance trope-containing books. I go in them hoping to love them by the way, but by the end, my rage gives me life fuel.

Boring books though… it’s much harder. You know, it’s funny, I was thinking about this topic last night while I was reading the book I’m contemplating DNFing, and came across this quote:

A man will suffer misery to get to the bottom of truth, but he will not suffer boredom.

And my brain read that and went ‘Heeeey did you know you’re making me bored? Because that was uncanny.’ But it’s right (and it’s the one line of the book that I have enjoyed so far) I’d rather hate-read than be bored by a book. I’d rather read something that makes me highly uncomfortable than be bored. And because this book is making me bored… right now the twenty dollars doesn’t sound like a terrible price to escape it.

There’s also the ego to consider.

Freudian theories aside, something is keeping me from putting down this book aside from money. Maybe I just wanna show that I can handle something I dislike. Maybe it’s so I can write a damn review on it and give it a fair rating since I would have read it all. All I know is every time I think about quitting it, my brain goes ‘Oh no you don’t, you’ve come this far’.

Reading books I dislike makes me slumpy.

This is another factor that leads towards not wanting to waste time more than not wanting to waste money. When I’m reading a book I dislike, specifically one that bores me, it makes me not want to read period. I don’t want to read it, and I don’t want to read other books I’ll enjoy more because I’ll feel guilty for not focusing on the boring one. I can already feel the slump setting in, so maybe slowing down the pace of this one and reading other books and coming back to it will help.

So. Will I finish the book? I haven’t decided.

As of right now, I’m still unsure. I just hit the 50% mark of the book, so I feel like quitting it now would be silly (it’s my ego telling me that) but at the same time, the remaining 50% is over 300 pages (…and would be the ‘don’t waste time’ bit) and as mentioned multiple times, this damn book was twenty dollars.

I guess what it comes down to is.. I’m disappointed. I shelled out this money, and my time, and my anticipation on a book that I was sure I would love, and it let me down. I feel cheated in a way, and maybe powering through and finishing the book is my way of compensating for the feeling of, well, betrayal?

Who knows. A review will be up of this book either way eventually – we’ll see if it says ‘DNF’ in it or not. Wish me luck.


So, what do you think? Should money play into it? Does it for you? Is it something you’ve noticed a pattern with? Talk to me, peeps.

12 thoughts on “DNFing Books: Time Wasted vs. Money Wasted

  1. Am so curious to know which book it is.
    I get what you mean though. I get annoyed when I shell out that much money and end up not enjoying what I bought. That’s part of the reason why I lean more on my library these days (if I borrow it and like it, then I buy it) or wait a bit before getting the book (after the hype dies down). Of course, there are times when I’m impatient to wait so I just buy the book full price or with coupon. I did that for Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf because I love the author’s previous work. It’s a gamble we take when we pay that much for a book without knowing if we’ll like it.
    Sometimes I put the book aside and try again couple months later.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hahaha it’s funny that the book could tell you were bored 😉 But I do completely relate- if I’ve spent money on a book, especially if it’s a lot, I feel like I have to finish it, whether I like it or not. And I also relate to finishing books that made me angry more easily than finishing books that made me bored. And I think that ego does come into it. And if I’m honest, I do also consider whether I’ll be able to discuss it in a review after as well (I mean, it’s not logical, cos I could just do a dnf review- but I feel like I might as well have suffered for something 😉 ) But I do also get slumpy after reading lousy books… so I feel like the advice I’d give myself is to give up (though I know I wouldn’t take said advice 😉 ) Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s another good point: I’ve definitely powered through books because I knew I’d be able to give it a decently entertaining review. I just need, well, something to keep me motivated. Anything. Boredom is the worst, haha. Thanks for the thoughtful comment 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can relate to so much of this! What you said about boredom vs rage reading is so true… and that’s funny the book basically summed it up for you in a quote. For me money does play a role as well. I’ve become a bit spoiled with audiobooks because my subscription allows me to return DNFs, so when a hard copy book I bought is boring it annoys me more and makes me force myself to go further than I might have otherwise. I try not to though, since it does feel like wasting time as well as money! I guess one difference for me is that I don’t write many reviews (only short ones on Goodreads when I feel like it) which probably helps me stop sooner – I guess because I’ve got no raging review to look forward to 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I use Audible – technically I think I can return books for any reason I like, but my personal rule is they have to be DNFs. It’s definitely
        convenient! I notice it makes me more willing to take a risk on a book I’m not sure about.

        Liked by 1 person

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