Most readers are familiar with terms like TBR (To Be Read), and DNF (Did Not Finish). They relate to the immense piles of books we keep in our houses and hope to read one day and those books we just can’t force ourselves to read through to the end respectively.
If you are one of those people who has no trouble putting a book aside — or maybe has trouble, but does it anyway — when it is not working for you, I have a (perhaps new) initialism and concept to propose: NRN, which means Not Right Now.
It has happened several times that I have picked up a book, just to find myself struggling to get through it. Admittedly, sometimes it is the “book’s fault” — if books can ever be faulted for not clicking with you — but often, even when you understand that some books are indeed not made for you, you know that there is another reason why you are having trouble getting across the stories, turning this journey from front to back cover into a tricky one: it is not the right time, place, or moment to consume that story. Sometimes, you will even return to that book weeks, months, or even several years later and leaf through it like a breeze, falling in love with a book you thought was not meant to be read by you.
This is a common occurrence and one I’ve experienced several times. It can happen for various reasons: you had another book in sight that was taking your focus away from other stories, mistakenly leading you to attribute a failure to your current read; you were not in the mood to read that particular story with those particular themes; you were not in a time or place in life to immerse yourself in that tale and get from it whatever it is it was trying to convey.
Although I am a defender that stories don’t necessarily belong to a specific age, I know that sometimes we do lack the maturity, or life experience, to appreciate and even understand certain books.
Not Right Now is an alternative to DNF, a second chance you are giving a book, rather than a set decision to just not read that book at all.
Of course, this is not to say DNF should be a thing of the past, or that you should only turn to it as a last resort; DNFing books is as valid as doing anything else, and it is a very personal thing how you read books and how much time you bestow upon them. DNFing is recommended and oftentimes even necessary. There is absolutely nothing wrong with simply not finishing books that don’t click with you for whatever random reason.
But if you are a prolific reader, one who doesn’t have time or patience for difficult books, or books that ask more from you than you believe they should, this is a pledge to ask you to give those books a second chance.
Not immediately, maybe not even for a very long time, but to not put them aside straight away the first time you stumble (up)on them.
Of course, asking for this probably sounds like I’m asking you to keep yet another pile of books that you may, or may not, get back to in time. And you can certainly do that. But what I advise you to do is actually something different: why not just place them amongst those books you have already read?
Then, one fine day, you’ll go through your bookshelves in search of something new that you probably believe is not there. But it is.
You find it on a cold, rainy afternoon, as you struggle to choose your next read, and you have no idea exactly what you are in the mood for. Then you see the book you abandoned a while ago, still unread, but ready to be given another try, patient as only books can be. You stroke its spine, remove it from the shelf, curl up with it and a cup of your favourite drink, and you get so caught up in the narrative that you end up losing track of time. When you turn the last page you look out the window; both the light and the atmosphere have changed, the air is saturated with magic.
You leaf through the pages once more, turning the book in your hands, and you smile conspiratorially. You and that book share a secret, and a story of (perhaps) many years. Maybe it was the right time now. Maybe it offered more.
Or maybe not. Maybe that book will disappoint you once again. In this instance, throw it into the DNF pile, and carry on onto your next adventure, keeping NRN as an open possibility for any read you come across.
The NRN is there in case some hidden magic decides to allow itself to be found, weaved slowly into the bewildering threads of the ever-changing time.
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