Hey, everybody! Welcome to another edition of KC and the Sunshine Chats. Today we are going to be talking about DNFing books, and DNF reviews. For those of you that don’t blog, DNF stands for did not finish. This is a hot-button issue that has been discussed a few times in the blogosphere, but I don’t believe I have ever put MY opinion out there and it’s probably time I do that. I know that this is an important topic to many bloggers and it has caused a few arguments, so it’s a good one to talk about.
So, my first question for Christina is this: What do you think about rating books you don’t finish, and do you do it?
CF: No, I do not rate books that I don’t finish. Actually, I didn’t used to do anything with DNF reviews until I figured out how to add a shelf for DNFs on Goodreads, so that they wouldn’t be on my to-read shelf still. Learning about exclusive shelves was a gamechanger. Now, I do post a brief explanation for why I wasn’t feeling the book for the short amount of it I read, and shelve it as DNF. I don’t rate it, because, personally, I just don’t feel comfortable rating a book I haven’t read in its entirety. This might be why I don’t like anthologies/collections. I have to suffer through all of the crappy stories to feel like I can rate/review.
KM: So you don’t include them anywhere on the blog then? Just Goodreads? That’s usually what I do. I used to post my DNF reviews up on the blog, but then I ran out of space and that was like the least important thing I was doing, so it had to go. I still post them on Goodreads though. As far as rating, I actually DO rate books I haven’t finished, but it’s a really rare occasion when I do this because I save it for the utterly horrendous. Like Alice In Zombieland. I didn’t finish it and I still rated it. That book was ridiculous and unreadable. Ha. So I felt like I almost had to. But again, this is something I don’t do often. I rarely read short stories either. Just not my thing, I guess. So, have you ever gotten shit from other users over writing DNF reviews?
CF: Well, I did do a roundup of my DNFs during the first few months of 2013. I’d not really done that before, just because it didn’t really occur to me, but I’d had some people ask about what I DNFed in 2012, and I had no clue, because I wasn’t recording it at that point. I didn’t link the DNFs in my Review Archive, but they’re there if you look. Bleh, I did finish Alice in Zombieland, and just…no. I can’t. Oh, and speaking of getting shit over DNF reviews: I got my second troll on my blog ever (that I remember anyway) when I posted that roundup of reviews. So yeah. I’m sort of on the fence about doing that again, but then the trolls win.
KM: I haven’t gotten any on the blog, but that’s because I only did it a couple of times, and it was pretty much before anyone knew about our blog. I did get one on Goodreads though one time. I DNFed and rated a book that I had won from a Goodreads giveaway, and I was told by staff that I had to do that or it would mess up my winning algorithm. It’s effed up anyway, but I did what they said, and this woman flipped her shit because I one-starred a book she loved apparently. It was just one comment but it pissed me off. Anyway, I don’t particularly care about trolls anymore, but those were the early days, so yeah. So how do you structure your DNF reviews? And have you gotten positive feedback from other readers about their helpfulness?
CF: Oh, yeah, GR decides if you can win more by if you’ve reviewed the ones you already won. Thus why I don’t enter any at the moment, since I have two reviews outstanding. Oops. I don’t have the stones to not be freaked out by the trolls. This comment was sort of funny, though, because the troll was like “why would you waste your time reading books you don’t like?” on a post about how I didn’t do that. *tilts head*
KM: Weird. I don’t have ANY reviews outstanding and I haven’t won a book from them in over a year now. I guess they don’t like me. LOL!! I remember that comment and it made me cackle like a madwoman. Could they have been anymore obtuse?
CF: The fact that people get so up in arms about them does make me glad that, back before I knew anything about the community when I started my blog, I didn’t include them. It just never occurred to me to do so. However, I do enjoy reading other people’s DNF reviews. Doesn’t mean I will take their word as gold, but if they’ve read half or more that’s enough to make a real judgment, and I can see reviewing it, even if I don’t. Even if it’s just of twenty pages, go right ahead. I do like for DNF reviews to be clearly marked, and even better to say how much the reviewer read (something I’ll add to my next DNF roundup.
Oh, Kara just kicked me behind the scenes because I missed that question about formatting DNF reviews and positive feedback. *rubs shins* Okay, there’s no specific format to them. Usually, it’s just one brief paragraph about what wasn’t working for me (lack of characterization, something rage-inducing early on, bored to tears, confusing). Though I did go all out with my Period 8 DNF review and outline the first 25 pages and how awful they were. Pretty proud of that one honestly. Oh, and, yes, most people respond positively, even when they say “I still want to read it,” which is totally fine by me. Best of luck to you!
KM: I love reading DNF reviews, actually. I find them extremely helpful, especially when they are coming from bloggers I trust. At this point, I pretty much know what I like and don’t like, so seeing something in a DNF review that rubs me the wrong way is usually a pretty big indicator that I shouldn’t be reading it. Last year, I wrote a lot of snarky reviews. I still like to do that, but this year, I am not reading as many books I like, and I am DNFing a lot more often than I have in the past. And you are right. Including how much the reviewer has read is important because if they only read twenty pages, that’s not going to mean as much to me as someone who had read one hundred.
I format mine pretty much the same way you do. I used to take a lot of notes when reviewing, but I stopped doing that because it felt like work. I am thinking I might start it up again in the future though because I feel that my reviews have been lacking in detail lately. Sorry for the off topic. LOL. I loved your Period 8 review. I thought it was wonderful, and that’s part of the reason I want to start taking notes again. So…how do you feel about DNFing in general? How often do you do it? Is it easy for you to DNF a book, and what makes you do so?
CF: I do love reading them too, because they tend to be really hilarious. Plus, they can save me from a book I would hate, if I have similar taste. Obviously, the better I know someone, the more impact their DNF review will have on me. I know that I often agree with you or Giselle or Jenni or April, so if you guys don’t like something, then I’m going to be more likely to pass. In the end, that DNF review is saving the author from additional bad reviews because we can avoid the book which would have made us mad the same way. I’m DNFing more too! A whole 6 books in 2013 already. *pats self on back*
Speaking of only reading twenty pages, I generally DNF by page 50. Otherwise, I feel like I’ve committed so much time to the book that I might as well finish. I thank my lucky stars I haven’t been trolled much since I often finish books I didn’t like from the beginning, because I kept hoping they would get better, and, by the time I was sure that it wouldn’t I was too far in to stop. So, if I’m not feeling a book very early on, generally either because I am incredibly bored or already enraged, I will go look up reviews for the book, both negative and positive and see if I think there are any chances of it improving for me. If I seriously doubt it, I DNF with a swiftness. How about you?
KM: I agree. And I decided not to read How My Summer Went Up in Flames based on one of your reviews. I know you didn’t DNF it, but I have a feeling I would have. I think sending a message to HarperCollins saying I know this book would upset me instead of reviewing and ranting over it is going to be better for me in the long run. I don’t like to be angry when I read, and I am sure the author would appreciate the lack of that review, even though I don’t write my reviews for authors. I just don’t like to read books I hate anymore. At least not lately.
I have DNFed (goes to look) 7 books this year so far. Almost the same as you. I actually thought there were more than that. I usually give a book one hundred pages unless it makes me rage early on. But this changes based on the book so I am sure some of them are 50 like you. Last year, I finished a lot of books I probably shouldn’t have. This year, I am not doing that. Even IF they are review books. If the publisher doesn’t understand (they will), oh well, because I am not torturing myself.
CF: How My Summer Went Up in Flames ended up being a 3 star for me. The main character would piss you off enough that I don’t think it would have been for you. I was able to enjoy that the characters were at least well-developed, even if Rosie is a hypocritical bitch. *coughs* Umm, but yeah, general things.
One hundred pages is too many pages. If it’s really long, I might give it more. It’s sort of a ten percent rule, I guess. If it’s not grabbed me in ten percent, and the reviews praise things I don’t care about or complain about things I hate, then we’re done. Usually though, I’m not that unhappy in such a short period of time, or I’m convinced things will improve against all reason. I never used to DNF review books, because I was afraid the publisher would hate me, but now I will. I accepted some crazy stuff early days and had to write negative reviews that were like “Well, this totally wasn’t for me and I knew that, but, uhhh, it was free?” AWKWARD.
KM: I like your ten percent rule. I generally go about twenty, I think though. If a book is 350 pages, I’ll read 70 before quitting. Unless it makes me rage quit. I know you would hate that though. 70 is a LOT. Hahaha!
And so did I. When I first started blogging, I would take everything that was offered to me. I just wanted stuff to read. I think everyone does that. Now I don’t even answer most of the email requests I get. I just don’t have the time. Totally awkward. I reviewed a lot of self-published books and I am lucky that I didn’t get trolled early on because most of the drama comes from that area of the publishing industry. Not all, mind you, but yeah. And it was torture, trying to finish those books that I hated. And then reviewing them? I didn’t DNF at all in the beginning and I should have. I didn’t want anyone to feel bad and I didn’t want to hurt any feelings. Let’s just say that I’ve changed a LOT. So, anything else to add on this topic, Christina? Or are we ready to wrap it up and ask for comments?
CF: I could say more, but it would be on a tangent. Maybe we need to tackle the early days of review copies in a later chat?
KM: Sure! That sounds like a great idea. I love talking about my early days of blogging because everyone’s experiences were different.
CF: Next time on KC and the Sunshine Chats, find out all the things Christina did wrong when she started book blogging. Are you excited? Yeah, you are!
KM: I can’t wait for this topic! Muahahaha.
Bloggers, what are your policies for DNFs? Readers, do you like DNF reviews? How long do you stick it out in a book you’re not liking before you DNF?
Links for post:
Period 8 review on GR: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/479878850
How My Summer Went Up in Flames: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/412820178
Alice in Zombieland review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/191504566