On DNF’ing

It’s hard to read an uninteresting book when you’re busy.

I’ve been extremely stressed over the past two weeks or so, with several very important exams to study for. During this time, I’ve been reading Arlie Russell Hochschild’s book Strangers in Their Own Land, a book exploring the ‘left behind’ of the American political right.

As a political junkie, I’m very interested in the subject matter this book. And yet, at a fifth of the way through, I didn’t want to read much more. The content was less analytical than I would have liked, and more a series of interviews the author conducted on people in the Tea Party of Louisiana. This type of book served it’s purpose, but I think it useful for me to read it anymore, at this point in my life.

I read a few reviews online to see if the book changed it’s tone. It didn’t, I saw, though I noticed one reviewer encouraging the readers to read the chapter dubbed The Deep Story. I flipped ahead a hundred pages, and read it. I’m so glad I did, and I agree with the original reviewer that this chapter should be required reading for any on the American left. Regardless, I felt that, after reading the first fifty pages and that chapter, I had read what I needed to, and so I DNF’ed it.

DNF’ing has always been hard for me; I feel as if I’ve failed in my original intent of completing the book I set out to read. I always feel as if I’m being hasty in jumping to a new book, as if I lack the patience required to complete a book that might start off slower. Logically, I know none of this is the case, but emotionally I can’t let go of the feeling that I’m making a mistake whenever I DNF.

I know that it’s perfectly fine if I spend my next few weeks reading something less “heavy.” I recognize that the value I’ve gotten from the pages I read of Strangers in Their Own Land isn’t diminished just because I didn’t finish the book (considering the book’s repetitive structure, I almost feel as if I’ve gotten all its value). But, I still feel like I’m wrong in my decision to DNF.

I won’t let these feelings stop me. I can only read so many books; I’d rather my time reading something I like rather than something I don’t.

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