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Books for Thought is where I post a discussion topic related to books, reading, writing, or something pertaining to one of the three. I hope you’ll join in, and discuss today’s topic of


You see a book. You like the sound of the book, or you’ve read a book by the same author and liked that book. Whatever the reason, you decide to read Book.

You start Book. You kinda sorta definitely know from the fist word/sentence/paragraph/page/chapter that Book is not for you. You’re filled with conflicting emotions. See below.

Emotion A: You bought/requested/borrowed this book. You have already spent x amount of time on this book. You should finish this book, especially if you’ve inferred that you’re going to write a review for this book.

Emotion B: There’s that quote – “so many books, so little time”. You feel this quote deep in your soul. Your TBR is toppling, swaying, at threat of crushing you beneath its great paper weight. Your Goodreads shelves would be bursting if they were real shelves. There’s 500 more fucking pages left in Book, and you just don’t know if you can do it. You want to cast it off, leave it be, move onto the next book in hopes that it’ll be better.

So what do you do? Do you finish the book because you’re not a quitter, you promised a review, you want to just slog through to the end? Or do you leave the book because your time is valuable and Book is not and dammit you just don’t want to read it anymore?



Do you DNF? (Did not finish. Don’t ask me how tense works with this acronym. It has its own tense. It defies tense.)

I used to be a staunch book finisher. If I hated a book, I would read it anyway. What if there’s something I like about it later on? Also: I like finishing things. But then I realised the sense that Emotion B made. I really don’t have time to be reading shitty books that are 600 pages long. I don’t read as a form of torture – I read to enjoy myself. So why would I waste my time on a book I am really not enjoying in the slightest? If I’m over 50% of the way in, and nothing is inspiring me to keep on reading, then I don’t. I don’t keep reading. Being a finisher be damned. Being a reader with hundreds of books on my TBR (electronic and physical) and limited time be … not damned.

I proudly DNF books now. I simply don’t see the point in continuing a book if I’m not enjoying it. If I don’t want to finish it. I can move onto bigger and better books (though hopefully not bigger than 600 pages). I can leave Book in the dust. I can DNF.div
What about you? Do you DNF? Why/why not?


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Posted on: November 8, 2016 • By: Chiara

34 Responses to The Art of the DNF

  1. Angelica says:

    I DNF books but sometimes after let’s say, a few months after putting it down I get an urge to read it again then I do so. Has it ever happened to you?

    • Chiara says:

      Nope! I have only DNF(d) a few books, and from that number there haven’t been any that I would want to go back and finish! Which I think means I made the right decision :D

  2. I tend to know what type of books I’ll like, so I usually finish a book even if it’s not my MOST favorite – because there is enough I do enjoy. However, every now and then, I find myself reading something that’s way different than I thought or just not working for me and I do DNF. I don’t want to force myself to read something I don’t like – this isn’t school after all, and I’m not being paid to read and review books so I want to have fun.


    • Chiara says:

      Me, too! I have only DNF(d) a handful of books in my life, haha. But sometimes the book is just so different to what I thought, or is filled with things I don’t want to read about that I know finishing it isn’t worth the time. Forcing yourself to read something is so horrible, which is why I think DNFing is such a cathartic thing to do!

  3. I find it very hard to DNF books. I don’t know what it is, but I keep on pushing myself to finish it. I think that is will magically get better and sometimes it does, but most of the time it doesn’t and I end up hating what I am reading.
    In saying this, I have DNF more books this year than I have every – I think. It’s not just books that have been published this year, but I don’t care as much anymore. Sometimes I will pick the book up later on, but most of the time I won’t.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Chiara says:

      I don’t DNF a lot, but I have come around to the fact that I just don’t have to push myself to read a book I hate! And with the books I HAVE DNF(d), I know that they wouldn’t have gotten any better, because the things I DNF(d) them for are things like investment in the characters and the plot, and those definitely aren’t going to change over time! I think being unafraid to DNF is a good thing. We don’t have time for terrible books!

      No problem! :)

  4. Joséphine says:

    After all this time of telling myself to ease up and embrace the option to DNF, I still hardly do, even if I hate a book. Heh. Altogether I gave up on only two books this year, one of which is an audiobook that I might pick up as an ebook instead. I just couldn’t torture myself with the narration that gave me a headache.

    That aside, when I dislike something, I had this compulsion to read on to figure out what it is that doesn’t work for me. Over time this has helped me avoid books that I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed either. If I’m unsure about books, I do read the chapter samplers before buying.

    Once I’ve bought a book, I usually commit to finishing it regardless. When it comes to series, however, I will finish the first book, then try to sell it off together with the sequels. Mush as I rarely DNF a book, I have no qualms about abandoning series. I’ll read the spoilers then move on.

    • Chiara says:

      I hardly DNF, either. I’ve only DNF(d) five books! But I no longer feel the pressure to continue reading a book if I really and truly don’t want to, and I’m more open to the option of DNFing than I used to be.

      I’ve never used a chapter sampler like that before. I’ve only ever read two, and they made me want to keep reading the books, haha!

      Oh, yeah. Same. I abandon series if I don’t like the first book (or any after that) because I have even less time for whole series full of books I don’t want to read!

  5. Tasya says:

    I don’t dnf book… I only did it once. But I do experiencing this feeling now. I got this arc from netgalley and it sounds awesome… but it’s not :( I really have no motivation to read it and haven’t touch it since last week but I feel really bad! I do know if I continue I would give it no more than 2 stars, so I think it’s an almost DNF for me.

    • Chiara says:

      Oh no! I hate it when a book sounds awesome and then turns out to be something you’re totally not interested in :( Normally if I know that I’m going to rate a book with one star or even two star if I did finish I usually DNF!

  6. Mitchii G. says:

    I have two type of solutions when the book didn’t work for me: it’s either I put it on-hold—meaning I’m not in the mood to read it now or I DNF it. The former happened to me several times; the book was so boring the first time but it was tolerable enough (still had redeemable qualities) therefore I thought of reading it again when I have the time. While the latter, it was super boring I felt so lazy reading it. Most of the time the book didn’t need to be awful (despite the negative feedback there was still an emotional investment hence I continue) it was so boring to the point nothing enter in my head. So yeah! ;D

    • Chiara says:

      I’ve found that most of the books I DNF have characters and a story that I’m not invested in! If I really don’t care whats going to happen to anyone then there’s no point reading to find out, right? I’ve never put a book on hold because I don’t think I am someone who would ever pick it up again, haha XD

  7. Jackie B. says:

    Yes. This. I also used to be a staunch book finisher. But, then I realized how precious and limited my time was. Time is my most scarce and precious resource. I will occasionally use it to push my limits, but not that often. I want to enjoy my free time! I will push through a book and finish it if this is for a book club or buddy read. However, that’s about it. If this isn’t a book for me, I just stop reading.
    I do have some qualifiers. I typically give the book to the 20-20% mark, however. Some books pick up significantly at the quarter-mark. But once we hit that, if I am not interested to continue, I just stop.

    • Chiara says:

      Exactly! We can only read a finite number of books in our life and the truly bad ones are just not worth that time.

      I usually give the book to about page fifty, and then if I think it’s worth it I might give it another 50 pages, or I’ll just dump it. Most of my DNFs have been over the 50% mark, though!

  8. I try my best NOT to DNF but there are books where I actually feel like I’m losing 500 brain cells per page I continue to read. So yes, I have put some books “on-hold” so that I can recover (and potentially forget about it forever).

    The only reason really that I don’t like to DNF books is because I want to write a fair review on everything I’ve read and nothing can be reviewed unless I actually finish the book.

    • Chiara says:

      I feel like there’s such a difference between a book I’m willing to DNF and a book I end up only giving one or two stars to. There’s something about books that need to be dumped that mean that they’re not worth the time.

      I write DNF reviews, which aren’t a review of the book itself but rather the reasons why I couldn’t read it to the end!

  9. Kayla says:

    I DNF much more now than I did before, though it isn’t TOO often, thankfully. But really, all I can think about are the good books I could be reading instead of the one I literally have to force myself to read. I would rather reread a book I know I love than slog through a new book just to have it disappoint, and never get that time back for myself again. Though it does get exceptionally awkward when it comes to ones I’ve promised reviews for :(

    • Chiara says:

      Me, too! I’ve only DNF(d) a handful of books, but most of them have been in the last year or so. I just can’t bring myself to waste time forcing myself to read something I don’t like when I could be reading something amazing! Ah, yes. I still submit a review, but it’s a DNF review. I guess that’s not what they really wanted, but it’s still a review!

  10. Ugh, I don’t know? I had a whole post this year about why I don’t DNF, but since then I’ve stopped reading two books at 10% because they had things that just really annoyed me and didn’t seem likely to go away. But then I’m so indecisive that I still wonder if maybe they would get better or have redeeming qualities? So maybe I should try them again? But part of the reason I don’t like DNFing is because I feel like all the time I already put into reading that book is wasted. So that’s why I stopped at 10% in those two books because at least it didn’t take that much time to read that far. But if I go past that… then I feel like I need to stick it out.

    • Chiara says:

      I know what you mean. I sometimes wonder if things might have gotten better, but if that’s the only reason why I’m continuing then I don’t really think it’s worth it! I can’t waste time reading a book just on the hope it’ll stop being something I hate. But I get you on the time wasted already reading x amount before DNFing but there would be even more wasted time if we didn’t stop!

      • Ah, but that’s the thing. I don’t consider it a waste if I read a whole book because I feel like I gain something from every book and at least I got to read a full story (except in the case of those aggravating books that cut off after only half a story -_-) whereas half a book does feel like a waste.

  11. Like you, I used to be the same with DNFing books and I needed to see if they got better towards the end. 9 times out of 10, they rarely got better. I definitely think 50% is the mark to decide on a DNF and I’m really grateful for the time we can spend to other books, otherwise we might get into a book slump.

    • Chiara says:

      Mine is 50 pages! By then I usually know if something is going to be for me or not. Book slumps are the worst, and I think if I had forced myself to read some of the books I’ve DNF(d) I probably would have fallen into one D:

  12. There’s still war going on in me when it comes to DNF.
    I just can’t do it, no matter how hard I want to sometimes,
    I blame several things:
    1. When I started reading for pleasure in high school, there was one awefully boring book (I don’t even remember ir’s name) I read, it was a crime, but the end was so good I was glad I read it all the way through even though I hated reading it, and the whole boring book suddenly made sense.
    2. If I paidbook with my own money, I see it as wasting if I DNF it.
    3. If book was a gift, I feel guilty if I don’t finish it.
    4. If I got a book for review, I have to read it in order to write one (I hate it when people rate/review books they didn’t finish), and if I don’t like the book, I like to stand behind every word in my review, so I make sure to finish it.

    But I would like to be one of readers who DNF books without any problem, especially because there are so many interesting books out there, and I still waste my time on boring ones, because of those four reasons I mentioned.

    • Chiara says:

      Each to their own! I used to be someone who staunchly read every book to the last page but I just don’t have it in me anymore. I would rather enjoy my reading time rather then force myself to finish something that I am honest to goodness hating.

      Maybe one day you’ll DNF, but I think owning the fact that you don’t is a good thing!

  13. I used to force myself to read books as well. I had the same mindset as you that I felt like I owed it to the book to finish it and to give it a fare chance. But also just like you I now do not finish a book if I’m not liking it because it is definitely a form of torture and there’s not enough time in our lives to read bad books! I DNF books all the time. I also don’t force myself to read a book I’m not interested in by the summary.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    • Chiara says:

      I usually read up to page 50 if I think I’m going to DNF right off the bat, so I think that’s me giving it a fair chance! But if I get beyond that point and I’m still not liking it I don’t feel guilty for abandoning it. Like you said, there’s just not enough time to read the books we don’t want to!

  14. Romi says:

    I’m with you on the so many books and so sodding little time, Chiara, because that is accurate to us and most readers, I imagine. It’s pretty much what I think when I’m not enjoying a book, and with just a glance at my physical tbr I feel okay about DNFing and moving on. Because there ARE just to many books, and why waste time on something that you aren’t passionate about? Reading should make up passionate, not dispassionate!

    It can certainly be hard when you’re supposed to be reviewing something, though, and those are the times I hold out for longer than I normally would because I never like to let a publisher know I’m not reviewing a book for them. But I guess if you think of all the books that are out there, waiting to be devoured by you, and you’re reading soemthing that isn’t for you but no doubt someone else would love to devour, it IS better to just put it aside and give yourself a chance to fall in love with something else, to discover something that is better for you. There isn’t any reason, really (although it’s so damnably easy to come up with reasons), to read something that you just aren’t into.

    I’m happy ~you’re~ happy DNFing these days! Move on to better and smaller books! *throws a cake at your face happily* xx

  15. DNFing is something I should probably do MORE. But it’s a rare book that annoys me so much I can’t finish. It used to be that I would feel so guilty, but I think more recently I might just have more patience haha

  16. Ashley says:

    I DNF books left and right! Sometimes I even get really far in (60-80%) and I’ll still DNF if I’m just not feeling it any more.

    I used to always want to finish books, but I’m so over that. I’d much rather move on and read a book I actually love.

    • Chiara says:

      I did toss a book aside after reading 62%, and even though I felt a little weird after reading so much I honestly didn’t want to continue.

      Me, too! But I think there are so many books out there that we don’t have time to read the ones we’re not liking.

  17. […] so long ago, I wrote about the art of the DNF, and on the review for the book that inspired it, the lovely Topaz wondered if I would write a post […]

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