Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let's discuss The DNF


One of the first bookish terms I learned when I started blogging, was DNF, which quickly figured out meant Did Not Finish (a book. Runners also use the term for races.) You can even add suffixes and say "I'm DNFing this story," even though it doesn't work out very well grammatically. Although I quickly deciphered the term, The DNF remained an illusive and mysterious entity, because of my complete inability to accomplish it. 

I've talked about this before, but I have trouble putting down a book once I've started it, even when I'm not liking it. I'm still curious about what happens, I feel obligated to finish the story, or I'm desperately hoping that if I keep going, the book will get better. It usually doesn't. I've felt like I'm giving up on something if I don't finish, even while I've envied the people who could quickly determine whether a book was for them, and put it down with ease if it wasn't. 

As a blogger and book lover, I read a lot. Many of the books I read are ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies. That's another term I learned) that publishers are asking me to promote. I want to give their story a fair shot, but as a very moody and frankly selfish reader, I don't want to spend my time on a story that just isn't going anywhere for me. It's taken me some time to balance those thoughts in my head, but near the end of this year I finally started letting books go and successfully DNFed four of them. 

I think my increasing pile of review books had something to do with my new found DNFing Superpower. I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of them, but have wanted to at least give them a chance. I've also figured out how to trick myself into a DNF pretty successfully. What I'll do is put a book "on hold" for a week or more if I'm not that into it, and if I feel zero interest in picking it back up again after that time, I'll throw it into the DNF pile. Maybe I'll pick one of those books up again if something changes, but probably not. 

You know what? Instead of being stressful, it's actually a freeing feeling to let a book go that I'm not enjoying. I don't rate them on Goodreads, because I haven't read them in full, but I have tried to write why I've stopped reading them in an honest but constructive way. I mean, a publisher's sole marketing doesn't rest on my shoulders, and if I don't like a book and DNF because of that, someone better suited to the story will finish and gush about it.  

Now I want to hear from you!

What are your own experiences with The DNF?

Are you easily able to determine if a book isn't for you 
or do you always keep reading until the end?  

If you're a DNFer, do you try to read to a certain point in the story before deciding to let it go?

Talk to me! 


P.S. I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season! I'll be spending time with family over the next two weeks and reading a lot of course, but I'll be slowing down on blogging. I plan to still post but probably less frequently. I'll be back for sure in the New Year. 

Also, as usual, I'm not good at adding relevant gifs to a post so I've included some of my recent instagrams that have zero to do with this topic. Enjoy!


  1. I am the same way. I have a really hard time DNFing a book. I keep reading hoping their will be a light at the end of the tunnel. I have successfully DNF'd several this year. They clearly weren't working for me and it had to be done. It is something I will probably always struggle with though. My curiosity gets the better of me I guess.

  2. I too found it really hard to DNF books, I think I've only dnf'd about three this year. I really need to be able to do this more as I have so many review books still to read, but like you mentioned I feel obligated to give the book a go, especially when sent from a publisher. But also I'm always curious to find out how things will end, even though I have an inkling about things will go. Thanks for sharing another great discussion post with us. I hope you have a fab break over Christmas!

  3. When I first started blogging last year it was really difficult for me to DNF a book, but the moment I began, like you, I discovered how freeing it could be. I typically give a book a hundred pages to fifty percent of the entire novel before DNFing, so at least that way I know I've sampled a solid chunk of the novel and can identify a lot of the flaws that haven't worked for me. I just DNFed The Boss yesterday (Jennifer Armentrout) and then an Urban Fantasy novel in a series that hasn't worked for me past the first book, and it feels a lot better not to have the pressure of slogging through those books over my head. I'm glad you've managed to find a way to not finish books that works for you, Lauren. I've gotten fairly good this year at picking up books I'm pretty sure I'm going to like, but there are always instances I read something that just isn't working for me and likely won't continue to. Great post, my friend!

  4. OMG. I've been on a DNF roll! Not that that's a good thing but it's necessary when there are so many books to read and so little time. I feel bad, especially when I read a positive review of that book I just DNFed -- I feel like I should try again but, really, I don't have the time. *sigh*

  5. I'm the exact same way Lauren! I used to always finish books out of obligation, with the same futile hope as you that they would surely improve if I just stuck with them. Hardly ever the case. It's only recently that I've embraced the DNF a bit more:) It's still not a frequent occurrence for me, mostly because I'm way choosier about books than I used to be, but when it happens every once in a while I don't beat myself up about it too much. I always just write the publisher and thank them again for the opportunity to review the book but let them know that it unfortunately was just not the book for me. Love this post!

  6. I usually finish all of the books I start, but I will start to really skim, and I even feel bad about that. But I have put a book down in the past, just because maybe I wasn't in the mood for it at that particular time. To me, that doesn't necessarily mean I won't pick it up again and even love it. When I first picked The Poisonwood Bible, I just couldn't get into it for some reason and I read maybe 50-80 pages and just put it down. I picked it up about a year later and absolutely loved it and it became one of my favorite books. So I will do it, but just not very often. ~Pam

  7. I'm pretty much in the same boat as you. I used to ALWAYS finish books. When I started blogging was when I decided to let myself stop because there are other things I would rather be reading. So many other things. My DNF pile is still small but I find it relieving. My I even had the book but I never started it pile is bigger. There were ARCs I had from ALA and books I had even bought that I realized I had no interest in reading anymore.

  8. I'm the same as you! As others have said, I used to always finish books. But now that I have so many books on my TBR pile at home, like a couple years worth at the rate I have been reading, and I keep getting more ARCs and e-galleys, I have had to learn to DNF. There are so many other books I want to read, that if something is just really not catching my attention, I put it down and move on. It doesn't mean the book is bad necessarily if I do that, it just means it is not my cup of tea. And so I try to say that on a review of a DNF on Goodreads. So people won't think it was a bad book, I just wasn't into it. Great post!

  9. Man, I love seeing the different views of DNFing. But I also love that you finally realized that there's nothing bad about it and really, it may help some sort of blogging slump that we all get. I actually used to DNF a lot and now I'm trying to get better, especially at e-galleys. Although I may be going too far over on the other side and shouldn't be guilting myself all the time. And cute Instagram post!

  10. Great discussion topic! I'm with you on feeling somewhat liberated when DNF-ing a book that isn't working out for me. I may feel guilty for a millisecond but I get over it quick. Life is too short, I'll never be able to read ALL the books I want to in one lifetime, so why waste any of it on a book I'm not feeling?? And I generally know it pretty fast in my reading:) I admire you for explaining why the book didn't work for you in lieu of a review-- that's a great thing! That might help me decide that the book isn't, or IS for me:)

    And I love your pics, L:))

  11. Can I comment as an author? Okay, thanks! (LOL I am assuming Lauren is okay with this, yes Lauren? ;-) )

    If someone were reading my book, and just not feeling it after giving it a chance, I would rather you DNF it and send me an email letting me know than to force yourself to read something you didn't enjoy. My goal, as an author, is to make people laugh and get swoons and be happy they picked up the book. I don't want people looking at it on their Kindle going "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I really don't want to read this." I want them to want to go on the journey, if you know what I mean. :-)

  12. I haven't been able to DNF a book myself. Or if I have, I've not really seen it in that light. Last year there was one book I decided not to read after 20 or so pages and realizing I wasn't in the mood for it. But that doesn't mean I won't pick it up at some later point in time. In the past few months I actually did put a few books "on hold" so I could read others. I did manage to go back to them though.
    Maybe one of my resolutions for 2014 would be trying to DNF if a book really isn't working for me.

  13. I'm honestly HORRIBLE at DNF! Like you, I'm the type who is optimistic and believes things will get better with time (or more pages), so it's hard for me to put books down. I definitely think it's a skill I should develop though, or else I'll end up spending too much time on books that I don't particularly care for.

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  15. I used to have to finish a book even if I didn't like it. I would force myself to finish it, this was because I felt I had to finish every book I started. Now I know it's alright to DNF a book, because there are more books out there. If a book doesn't get my attention within in the first 50 pages if it's a short book or the first 100 if it's a long book then I set it aside and don't feel bad about not finishing. But that has only started happening this year. It's a work in progress.

  16. I've always been a big DNF'er -- I have a very short attention span and if I'm not feeling a book it takes me forever to finish it. I'd say I DNF about half my library books.
    Since I've been blogging I think I am getting better about predicting what I will and won't like, and if I'm unsure about a book I will often not request it and wait for reviews. But I don't feel guilty about DNF'ing -- I mean, some books just aren't for me.
    Now I'm going to go look at your DNF list...

  17. I used to think I was bad at DNF-ing, and then I realized I do it pretty frequently. I often check out a ton of library books at a time. In many cases, I'll read a few chapters and then just return them. It's more than just reading the Kindle-size sample - I will get a few chapters in. I didn't consider that DNF-ing until recently when I read a few post/comments where people talked about being unable to quit after reading the first chapter. Like once they started, it was a given that they'd finish. If I'm not hooked in the very beginning, it's pretty easy for me to just stop reading a book.

    Where I struggle is with books that intrigue or interest me at first and then go downhill. Once I've engaged myself in the story somewhat, I really struggle to stop reading if it no longer appeals to me. I keep holding out hope that it will get better! And I actually struggle most with DNF-ing series once I've read the second book. I can quit after the first book pretty easily, but I feel like I MUST read the entire series if I get at least make it to the second book.

  18. I'm not very good at DNF-ing either though I'm somewhat improved. I end up feeling like I've invested x amount of time in it so I should just finish it but that's such bad logic! I should call it quits and go spend my time on something I actually enjoy.

  19. I always try to push through but have stopped reading a few books this year (in fact, I am struggling with my current read and am having "let's put it aside for a bit"-thoughts). I always just tell myself that I will pick them up for a second go when I feel in the mood . . . Just Reading for Fun

  20. I'm HORRIBLE at DNFing, though there was one book this year that was just beyond terrible that I barely made it past 100 pages before very nearly throwing it across the room. I just...I'm always afraid that it will get better at some point, that I'm going to feel like I was missing something if I DON'T finish. Now, DNFing a series is a bit different. In the last couple of years, I've started a bazillion series, but sometimes after the first book, I can tell that it's going to be torture, and there's no point in putting myself through that.

    I'm trying to allow myself to not finish books more, but it's hard for me. I don't think that I'll ever be the serial DNFer that some are. It's just not in me to not finish something I've started.

  21. Superpower! I like that term. I think I'm starting to have that too. In the last few months of the year I was getting so frustrated with reading books and just not loving them. It's not fun to write a review or promote a title when you don't have something of substance to say... so I would just read to 50 pages and if I wasn't into it, throw some feedback on NetGalley and move on. Made me feel so much better and I think it's part of the reason why I enjoyed reading so much this year. I didn't keep going if I didn't want to. I mean, reading is a hobby and this is not school... so why just skate through something you are not finding any enjoyment from?

    Sometimes I do feel guilty though. Like... what if I would like it 75 pages in or 100? But then I think of the book that grab me from Page 5 and beyond and I want THAT to happen instead. Ya know?

    Great post!

  22. I think I've only ever DNF'd one book since I started blogging...

    I would love to be able to put down a book I'm not enjoying, but I usually operate under the mind set of "Well, you've read this much, might as well finish it now." I think it's great that some people know 50 or 100 pages in that a book isn't for them, but I usually don't know until I've got to the end. Sometimes things turn around completely, and I'm pleasantly surprised!

    Unfortunately, like you said, those cases are definitely not the norm.

  23. I don't like to DNF, but I've finally started after realizing that if I wanted to ever get to the really good books that are worth reviewing, I needed to start letting them go. I have so much to do that I don't have a ton of time for reading anymore, and so I will DNF if I just can't bring myself to pick it back up, or if I start dreading reading it- this can also come in the form of me thinking, "Well, I do have Netflix...." So that's when I decide I just need to let it go. I always try to give books a chance, and if that happens I'll flip to the middle and see if anything exciting is happening before I give up completely, but I have finally learned that sometimes a book just isn't for me.


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