Bookish Talk: DNF-ing books – Do you do it?

I’ve been talking to several people recently about when or if you should DNF a book. For those who don’t know DNF means “did not finish.” In other words, it is a book that you started and didn’t like, so you chose to leave it unfinished.

Some people I’ve spoken to about this said that they never DNF a book. I was kind of shocked. I don’t DNF a book often because I really appreciate the time and effort it took for that author to write the book. I know that it can take years to write a book, find a publisher, and get it published. I feel horrible when I DNF a book, but sometimes you just have to put it down. Sometimes you don’t connect with a book or like the writing style or you aren’t in the mood for that book at that moment and you need to move on.

To NEVER put a book down because of an inner need to finish every single book you pick up seems crazy to me.

I used to force myself to finish books even if I wasn’t enjoying them, but then I realized: life is really short. Why would I waste precious reading time on a book that I just wasn’t enjoying?

I want to spend my time reading books that pull me in and don’t want to let me go. I want to dive into a world in which I can escape for a time, that will open its pages and wrap me up in them. I don’t want to waste time in a world that makes me roll my eyes or makes my skin crawl or makes me laugh for all the wrong reasons.

I know it probably seems that I DNF books left and right, but I don’t. I give every book I buy or borrow or receive for review a fair chance to suck me in. I just want to read as much as I can in my lifetime that will change me and teach me things and make me fall in love, and I don’t want to waste time on things that won’t. Some people ask how long I give a book before I know whether or not I’ll finish it, but it’s different for every book. I’d like to say that I give each book 50 pages or 10 chapters, but sometimes, if I’ve read 20 pages and I just can’t force myself any farther, I’ll stop. The last book that I DNF-ed was Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I gave it 6% on my Kindle ARC before I DNF-ed it. That’s not a lot. I just know what I like, and that was not it.

So I want to know what you think. Do you guys DNF books? At what point do you do so? Let’s start a discussion in the comments!

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39 thoughts on “Bookish Talk: DNF-ing books – Do you do it?

  1. Pingback: DNF Review – Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross (ARC) | Caught Read Handed

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  3. It’s rare that I DNF a book. Usually, I’ll set the book down, but I usually return to it later…even if by later it just so happens to be a year or two. But, even in the books I do not like, I can find one or two redeem qualities about it that keep me plugging along. Or, I’ve made it far enough into the book that closing the pages forever is out of the question. The last book I DNF was by John Green, and I was devastated because I’m pretty I’m part of that minority who doesn’t get to squee over his books. I knew by the end of chapter one that this book and I would not get along, and I saw no point in salting the wounds.

  4. Like you, I think life too short and there are too many wonderful books out there to spend time on one I am not fully enjoying. Sometimes I know from the very first few pages I won’t be liking the book, just from the overall writing style. I used to always try and finish a book, no matter what, because I felt guilty about it. But now, I just want to read all the excellent books I’m going to fall in love with and toss the “not for me” books aside. The exception is when a lot of reviews talk about a book picking up after a quarter or in the second half and urging readers to continue… then I usually try and stick it out to see if they are right.

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  7. Awww. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was on my TBR… I wrote about this when I first started blogging (http://confessionsofabookgeek.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/rant-where-have-all-the-reviews-gone/) and should probably do an update on it. I used to be one of those people who couldn’t leave a story unfinished. It was my bookish-OCD, I just couldn’t not know what happened in the story, even if I wasn’t enjoying it. If I completely hated it, I could put it down, but it only happened maybe once a year. Blogging had actually made me DNF more (or sometimes skim-read-to-the-finish-line if it’s a meh book but I want to get the gist of the story). It took a while for me to come around to the idea, but it’s liberating and helps with my other bookish-OCD – the anxiety I get that I will NEVER be able to read ALL the books! Lol R x

    • Haha. I have that existential crisis about once a month – I will never read everything I want to read. Haha.
      I do that – skim read – more than I DNF, but I’ve been letting myself do it more recently, since I started blogging.

  8. I just blogged about this idea the other day – well sort of, along the same lines. I used to be of the school of thought that I had to power through any book I started. Then, I was reading something and realized that I as getting stressed out and anxious because I was trying to finish a book that I felt actual loathing towards. Now, I’m fine with DNFing a book. I read because I love it, and I should never do something that makes me question that love.

  9. “Life is too short” – I had to eventually come to that realization as well. There are already far too many books than I will every be able to conquer in my lifetime. At some point, I have to accept that I gave the book a chance and move on for my own benefit. Reading is for enjoyment! If it starts to become drudgery, we’re doing a disservice to ourselves and the authors as well. They meant for their books to be enjoyed, not merely endured.

  10. I have a policy if I don’t like a book by page 50, sometimes sooner, I DNF. My to-read list is too long to struggle to read something that isn’t working for me. I tend to not give those titles reviews, unless it was a book request. At this stage in my life I think I’ve earned the right to only read what I like. 🙂

  11. Very interesting post 🙂 I think you’re right – sometimes you just have to put a book down, there are so many other books to read and you’re just not going to connect with/enjoy every story. Sometimes I will come back to a book I DNF and enjoy it, it just wasn’t the right time when I first picked it up.

  12. The only books I can remember DNFing because I didn’t like them was whatever book four in the Beautiful Creatures series is, it was just all going downhill at a rapid rate, and 50 Shades of Grey. I DNF books more often because I start reading something else that I am more interested in (People of Sparks is a DNF from that, as is Percy Jackson 3 which I was rereading at that time so it doesn’t really count). I would also count the Book Thief, but I fully intend to read that when I have more patience/time/less things to do..
    One question for DNFers, how long do you have to stop reading a book for before it becomes a DNF? I would personally say two to three weeks! I just wrote a post about it actually you little content inspirer you 🙂 http://aimeerobyn.blogspot.com/2014/09/bookish-talk.html
    Aimes

    • To me, a book becomes a DNF right when I stop reading it. I might go back at a later point in time to try to read it again, but if I stop reading a book, it’s a DNF for me.
      Oooo! Yay! I’ll head over and read yours now! 🙂

  13. I’m with you on the giving it a fair chance. Maybe you don’t want to finish it because at that point you are just not feeling it , but whose to say that in a couple of months you can’t read it and actually enjoy it? I Do feel bad , because writing a book is NOT a joke, but some times you just know 😀

  14. I try not to, but if I’m really not liking a book about 100-150 pages in, I usually put it down. Most recently, this was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I had so much further to go and I just couldn’t make myself slog through it! In my opinion there are too many books I want to read to continue with something I really dislike.

  15. Yes, I DNF but I make it a goal to get a quarter of the way through the book to give it a fair shake. I only started doing this two years ago. Before then I might put it on hold but I always finished them.

    • I’ve been talking to several people about it, but that discussion is what spurred this post. 🙂 I had to see what other people thought.
      I definitely feel an obligation to finish a book if someone gave it to me or I was granted access to an ARC – but sometimes I just can’t force myself through.

  16. So far, in my life, I have never DNF-d a book. I get it from my mother of needing to power through and read it and hope that maybe it’ll change and I may end up liking it. But obviously, I recently finished The Queen of the Tearling, and did not enjoy it at all; while I did not DNF, the only reason I did not DNF it is because it was an ARC. In all honesty, it would’ve become my first DNF book. I think now that I am older, I am able to realise that I don’t wanna waste my time on a book if at any point I’m like ‘I’m done with this’ but still I have the ‘it might get better! It might surprise you!’ little voice in my head.

    • I have that voice too, but sometimes you just have to tell it to shut up! Haha. I have a REALLY hard time DNF-ing an ARC. I feel that since I got it for free, I need to finish it. The only one I’ve DNF-ed so far is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and I just could not power through that one.

    • That quote is perfect.
      I have a DNF shelf on Goodreads too. I just recently started it and it only has two books on it – Eat, Pray, Love and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I really don’t do it often, but sometimes you just have to.

      • I will also skim read books that are just OK but not great. I don’t have a seperate shelf for those, but that happens more frequently than a flat out DNF.
        Mostly though, the books I read end up getting 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads. I know what I like and I’m pretty good at picking books. 😉

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