DNFing a book – and it wasn’t even that bad

I’m going to abandon my current read. Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds, will be added to the rather short list of books I started and then gave up on.

Actually the list of books I’ve started and given up on is probably long, but I’m not counting books I stopped reading because I was too busy or got distracted and didn’t want to dive back in halfway through, but also didn’t want to start them over.

Some books I DNF were really bad. Rarely is a book so bad that I only make it through a few pages before giving up. Yet on the other hand I’ve read quite a few books through to the end despite them being below par.

Many that were much worse than Blue Remembered Earth. And ‘worse’ isn’t really the right word. BRE isn’t a bad book. So it doesn’t really deserve to be on the DNF list. But it’s the victim of what I suppose you could call a change in reading policy.

Too many books, too little time

I started reading it because I had a gap between two reads I’d scheduled for myself. I finished Stuart Turton’s The Devil and the Dark Water earlier than I expected and had a few days before the special illustrated edition of Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby was due to arrive.

When Guards! Guards! arrived (earlier than expected, and with a free Librarian advent calendar, too – thanks, Discworld.com!) I certainly wasn’t going to wait to start reading that. But now that I’m done, I’m not desperate to get back to Blue Remembered Earth.

Partly this is because of my TBR pile. Not only had I received some awesome book post from a friend (and early Christmas present), but also I’ve taken advantage of Amazon’s Black Friday deal on Kindle Unlimited (three months for 0.99p).

So there are lots of interesting future reads demanding my attention.

Life’s too short to waste on the wrong books. As the pressure on my time increases I’ve had to become more disciplined in how I spend it. For starters, I’ve realised it’s time to be honest about all those things I’ve got that I’m ‘going to get around to one day’.

Am I really going to read all of those books that I’ve got stacked all over the house? And is it really worth having them all there in the hope I one day get around to each and every one, when seeing them all the time is just reminding me that I haven’t read them yet?

Reading Blue Remembered Earth was actually part of the drive to start clearing my TBR pile. But what’s the point in fretting over books not read, when those books might turn out not to be worth reading in the first place?

Asking tough questions

So I’m having to be more brutal. I’ve being doing it in terms of monetary decisions for a while now. When something new and shiny comes along that catches my eye – usually a video course of some kind – and the temptation to buy rears its head, I ask myself honestly if I think I’m going to have time for it.

Where exactly will I fit it into my current routine? What will I stop doing to make room for it? Why will this purchase be different to all those other books, hobbies or video courses that I’ve bought in the past and are still left untouched?

If I can’t give a solid answer to those questions, I don’t buy. And now I’m doing a similar thing for my time, which is a much more valuable and finite resource.

So, when I asked myself honestly why I wanted to finish Blue Remembered Earth, I realised it was mainly because I was halfway through and I wanted that effort to count towards my 2020 reading goal.

But that’s not really a good enough reason to carry on, especially given all the other books I could be racing through because they’re really good, not slogging through because, while the premise is interesting, it just isn’t gripping me.

Moving toward a Will Be Read pile

This is an approach I’m going to have to take more in the future if I ever hope of getting in top of my TBR pile and making the best use of my time.

So, while Blue Remembered Earth is not a bad read so far, it has the dubious honour of being the first book to be discarded for no other reason than the fact I can no longer afford for ‘not bad’ to be a standard by which I decide whether or not something is worth my time.

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