Bookish Posts

Why I DNF Books

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Do you DNF? If you’re not familiar with the term, it stands for Do Not Finish, and refers to when you give up on a book for any reason. 

I struggled with DNFing books for a while, and would force myself to plod through a book that I wasn’t enjoying. It wound up turning reading into a chore, and I would spend so long reading a book that I didn’t want to be reading. Why did I do this to myself? Part of it was because I remember having to do this in school, and I guess I got into the habit of just finishing books, whether I liked them or not. (Most of the books I had to read for classes weren’t of the enjoyable variety). Part of it was because I hate not knowing what happens, even if I don’t like the story. (To this day, I’ll sometimes skim through the end, or just find a summary that includes spoilers if I’m really curious to find out what happens). Part of it also was that I hate feeling like a quitter, giving up on a book that an author really works hard on and pours their heart and soul into, even if I don’t connect with it personally.

But what I’ve come to realize is, that I don’t have to finish every single book that I start. It’s a personal choice, but I know that I can DNF a book if I’m not enjoying it, and it’s okay. I don’t have to feel guilty about it, and neither should you. There are a lot more books out there that I will enjoy, so why spend time pushing myself to read a book that I don’t like? Reading is my hobby, my escape, my way of relaxing, one of my forms of self-care. If it starts to feel like a chore, it’s a sign that this isn’t the book for me. So I switch to a different book that is more my style. 

Here’s some reasons why I might DNF a book:

  • The material is offensive or triggering, without serving a purpose.
  • I can’t get invested in the plot.
  • I can’t connect to the characters.
  • There’s too many plot holes.
  • The plot isn’t believable.
  • There’s a lot of spelling/grammar/formatting errors.
  • Nothing is happening in the story.
  • The writing style isn’t for me.
  • The character doesn’t grow or change at all.
  • I’m just not in the mood for that book right then — sometimes I’ll go back to it later.
  • Stereotyped characters. 

Do you DNF? If so, what makes you DNF a book?

16 replies »

  1. I had never DNF’d a book until 2019, when I made my twitter account and I realised it was something I could do! I think it was because of school as well, being forced to push through a book even if I wasn’t enjoying it. I still haven’t DNF’d many books and I can remember my first one but sometimes it is the right thing to do!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really find it difficult to not finish a book. I rarely do it. I always think what if it gets better. When I do it, it is usually to do with writing style or plot are not moving. One of the last books I DNF was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo because I felt that his prose was long winded and nothing was happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It took me until this year to realize that it’s okay to not finish a book. I’ve pushed myself through so many unenjoyable books (waaay after I was no longer required to read books), and it finally clicked back in January that it’s okay for me to put a book down and not finish it. I would much rather spend time reading books I enjoy than books I do not (I do give it at least 30% of the book before I say I just can’t finish it). If it doesn’t get better by 30% of the book, it’s just not worth it to read it, because it’s not going to get better after that point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right? It’s like that school mindset stays with us for so long and we end up pushing to read books that we aren’t enjoying, when there are so many books out there! Not every book is a good fit for me, and I’ve come to terms with that. I give each book a fair chance, also trying to reach the 25-30% mark, but if it hasn’t hooked me, I’ll move onto another one. I’m glad you’ve accepted the DNF mindset!

      Liked by 1 person

      • What’s worse is when I’ve bought the book instead of just borrowed it and realized that it is just not for me/is a terrible book all around even if the reviews from others have been stellar. I’ve got a couple of books on my shelf that I’ve had sitting there for months or years that I’ve only half read but can’t get myself to donate/sell them even though I know I’ll never attempt to read them again.

        Liked by 1 person

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