Bookish Musings: Why I Don’t DNF Books


I was commenting on Aralyn’s post over at Paper Addictions & Magic about why people might DNF books when I realized just how often it seems I find myself trying to explain why I don’t DNF. And so I figured, why not just make a post about it?

It seems I’m in the minority with this (nothing new there), so it might be good to have an explanation out there to explain to all the DNFers why us non-DNFers do what we do and force ourselves to finish books we dislike. And of course I’d love to hear if any of you have other reasons or why you do DNF books.

This is actually going to be a brief discussion by my standards, so let’s get to it!

What does DNF mean?

For anyone not familiar, DNF = Did Not Finish. So to DNF is to stop reading a book partway through.

My History of DNFing

Just in case anyone is wondering, I have literally not DNFed a book since… maybe 2013? That was during the time period in which I had drifted away from my bookworm ways, so I really can’t be held accountable for my bookish actions šŸ˜‰ Seriously though, I tried re-reading both Interview with the Vampire and Catch-22, books I had LOVED in high school, but they just didn’t capture my attention the same, and I ended up accidentally DNFing them. I didn’t mean to, but I put them down at some point and just never picked them again. Since I had already read them, I guess I wasn’t all that worried about finding out how they ended, and that was that. But as I said, since I started reading again in 2014, I haven’t DNFed a single book.

Why I Don’t DNF

– I feel like I gain something from every book, including the ones I dislike, so it’s never a waste of time to me. (I even have a whole post about the good things about bad books!)

– In fact, stopping partway through is what would feel like a waste of time to me because then however much time I already spent reading would be wasted since I wouldn’t have gained anything or gotten a full story. And eventually all those half-books would add up.

– My curiosity gets the best of me. Even if I hate the characters, I want to know what’s going to happen.

– Most books have at least some redeeming qualities that I do enjoy.

– On rare occasions, books actually do get better, and I end up liking them by the end. Sometimes a twist changes the direction of the story, puts different characters into focus, amps up the action/stakes, or makes things more interesting. Or sometimes there’s no real twist but certain things that didn’t make sense or bothered me get explained and I realize they actually did make sense all along. So I swear this has happened to me!

My Overall Thoughts

As you can see, my reason for DNFing isn’t that I don’t know what I like or even that I truly think the books will get better (even though it has happened, I know it’s rare, and I don’t expect it to happen), it’s just that I can’t bear to leave a book incomplete because it feels like such a waste to me. I get that other people would rather waste a small portion of their time rather than waste hours of their time reading a whole book they dislike, but I simply see it in a different way. Once I commit to a book, I commit šŸ˜‰

But does that mean I’ll never DNF a book ever for the entire rest of my life? Probably not. There might come a day when I change my mind, or find a book so terrible I can’t go on, or start reading an 800-page book I already can’t stand at page 100. And when that day comes, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it so that you can welcome me to the DNF club!


Talk to me!

Do you DNF?
What was the last book you DNFed and why'd you give up on it?
What are your reasons for DNFing (or not DNFing)?
Does anyone else also love using nouns and acronyms as verbs?


Your Thoughts


76 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Why I Don’t DNF Books

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  1. Lola

    Interesting post! I didn’t know you never DNF’d. I do DNF, not often, but I do feel that sometimes the best thing to do with a book is put it down. I have a DNF goodreads shelf and it has 27 books on it, so that’s not too bad I think. If I really don’t like a book and am forcing myself to read then it gets the fun out of reading. But I need to really dislike the book or it must make me very uncomfortable for me to DNF it. I also believe in continuing if the book shows some promise or if it might improve later.

    I’ve DNF’d two books this year, Exposed and Artificial. Both books made me uncomfortable and I gauged it was unlikely to improve so I DNF’d them. I don’t want to books to make me feel uncomfortable and it’s probably the main reason why i consider DNF’ing a book. And with Artificial I even asked you about how it continued first to see if it got better and I might start enjoying it later. Most of the books on my DNF list are books I really couldn’t get into and reading became a chore because of that. I also have had a few DNF’s for books that make me uncomfortable and there are some books on that DNF list I wish I had never read at all. But most are books that just didn’t work for me, I didn’t care about anything and even a few were the writing didn’t work for me and that’s something that’s unlikely to improve.

    Now that I mentioned that I do think you have a good point with your not DNF strategy as well and I can see the merits of that. I do think that you can get something from almost every book you read and I rarely regret picking up a book even if it wasn’t awesome, I usually am still happy that I read it or at least don’t feel bad about reading the book. I also have read a book that was so slow at first i considered DNF’ing it and it turned into a 5 star eventually as when it did pick up it got so good. So I often want to give books the benefit of the doubt and hope they will get better. And some do and some don’t. If I am curious I will continue the book, but sometimes I dislike a book so strongly that I just don’t care about what happens next and then I will DNF a book.

    And I would definitely rather waste a small portion of my time than force myself to finish a book I really don’t enjoy and wasting even more time. I also think this is because I am reading slowly. I don’t want to read the same book i don’t enjoy for more than a week. This is especially true for my Kobo reads, for my ipad reads I am more forgiving as I know it will make me only 3-5 days to finish a book usually and even if it’s not that good it isn’t as much time wasted. But even then if I really don’t enjoy a book, don’t care about it and don’t feel like reading it I do consider DNF’ing books.

    If you ever do DNF a book I would like to hear about it :).

    1. Kristen Burns

      I guess DNFing has never come up in any of our conversations. Two books so far this year doesn’t sound bad at all though, especially if they made you uncomfortable. That’s different even than just disliking a book, and yeah, that’s probably not likely to change. And like you said, you did ask me about that one book, so clearly you try to give books a real chance.

      How funny about that book you considered DNFing that ended up being 5 stars! That’s like what happened to me with the first book in the series I reviewed on Tuesday. I didn’t give it 5 stars, but obviously I liked it enough that I’m still reading the series.

      But I can understand why people would rather only waste a small portion of time and not force themselves to finish a book. That is the biggest problem for me, the books I dislike sometimes end up taking a long time to read because I put them off and then that takes time away from other books.

      I will totally make an announcement on my blog the first time whenever I do end up DNFing a book lol.

  2. Angela @ Simply Angela

    The last book I DNF’d was a romance called The Cowboy Next Door. I tried so hard to finish this one but the author was trying too hard and the characters became way too much. Then there was the dialect–she was trying for a Southern dialect but the characters just ended up sounding stupid which made the dialogue feel fake.

    There’s some books that I immediately know will be DNFs. Either plot/characters feel fake or the writing is stilted. Then there are the ones that I will try to get through but ultimately they become a DNF. If I’m struggling with a book, I usually put it down for a day or two and read something else. If I find that I’m still wondering about it or wanting to know what happened to the characters, I’ll go back and try to give it another go.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, a bad dialect would make a book hard to read.

      I mean, I usually check previews for books, or if a book is just immediately so bad that I can’t even stand it on the first couple pages, I just consider that not reading the book period. But I don’t know, even just last week I read a book that seemed like it wasn’t going to be that great until about 12%, and then I ended up giving it 4.5 stars. So sometimes books get better for me. That sounds like a good plan though, so put the book aside and if you’re still thinking about it, give it another chance. I’ve done that with series before. Wasn’t sure if I should continue so I didn’t jump into the next book, but if I was still thinking about it a book or two later, I went for it.

  3. Bookworm Brandee

    I’m like you, Kristen, in that I don’t DNF. I have DNF’d one book since I started blogging and that’s only because the book, which I received for review, wasn’t ANYTHING like what the premise said it was. NOT ONE THING! There have been books I’ve had to make myself finish. I once asked my older daughter how many pages I *had* to give to a book before I decided it wasn’t for me. She gave me some ridiculous percentage which equated to me having completed 2/3 of a book and of course, if I finish 2/3 of a book I’m going to just finish it because by that point, I’ve invested quite a bit of time in the story and characters and really, I’m not a quitter. šŸ˜‰ (by the way, that particular book did get better and I went on to complete the series!) I get the “life is too short to waste time on a bad book” philosophy but I guess I’m more of a “if you’re going to try something, give it your all” person – and I just don’t give up. Oh, I’ve thought about quitting (*cough*William Faulkner*cough*) but I powered through and although The Sound and the Fury didn’t make my favorites list, I understand why it’s a classic. I’ve also considered giving up on series – because sometimes, they should’ve quit while they were ahead. Again, I consulted my older daughter (she gives good advice!) on whether or not I could skip some books and just read the last one. You can guess her advice and although there were books I didn’t enjoy as much in the middle, I’m glad I finished the series.
    Wow. I guess those 4 cups of coffee are affecting me, huh? This is all to say that I’m in the non-DNF’er camp with you. šŸ˜€

    1. Kristen Burns

      I didn’t realize that you didn’t DNF either! But that’s understandable that you DNFed if the book was completely not what the premise explained. And lol, yeah, once you’ve read 2/3 of a book of course you have to finish! I guess I share your philosophy.

      I do quit series sometimes though. I used to have this idea that once I made the decision to read the second book, I *had* to read the whole series, but then I just decided screw that, I’m not going to force myself to read entire books. But anyway, yay for the non-DNFer camp!

  4. sjhigbee

    All I have to say is – RESPECT to you non-DNFers:). There was a time when I used to always complete a book, but Time is wearing on, I’m not getting any younger and there are FAR too many books out there I’d LOVE to be reduced to trudging through the pages devoid of joy or excitement because I have to get to the end… That is an entirely personal view – and I don’t lightly give up on a book. I’ve read and completed 106 books so far this year and DNFed 2, though I have become very nifty at screening out books I don’t think I’ll like in advance, these days.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I think it’s perfectly fine if people want to DNF, it does make sense, but like you said it’s a personal view. I think DNFers and non-DNFers just kind of see it differently. But DNFing only 2 so far this year isn’t a lot at all, so clearly you don’t take it lightly! I do my best to screen out books and am pretty picky, but it still happens sometimes, especially since I also like to take chances on self-pub books and books that don’t have many reviews.

  5. AngelErin

    I can totally understand your reasons for not DNFing a book and I agree with them. However, I just can’t finish some books. LOL! A few years ago I realized that I was DNFing a lot so I challenged myself one year to only DNF 1 book and no more for the entire year. In that time I learned a lot about what I like, dislike, and if it’s going to be worth pushing through. Sometimes I still finish ones that weren’t good or worth it at all. Yet, I really feel like when I DNF a book now I’m 100% sure that it’s the right decision. Used to I would always wonder, what if it got better? The last book I DNF’d was Kids of Appetite and I could just tell immediately that it was NOT for me AT ALL. I’m so glad I didn’t make myself suffer through that. I try not to DNF a lot, but it happens. Overall I think everyone has their own “rules” about DNFing and it’s interesting to see how other people do things. Haha, I love using acronyms. šŸ˜‰

    1. Kristen Burns

      I get it because I also understand the reasons people do DNF, but it’s still just not my way of doing things. That’s smart though that you challenged yourself to only DNF one book for a whole year since it helped you figure out better when to go on and when to give up on books.

      Actually, the way you phrased that, saying that you feel it’s 100% the right decision, maybe that’s also why I can’t bring myself to DNF. I can’t make decisions to save my life, and so I’d probably sit and agonize over whether I should stop or not and in all that time I could’ve just finished the damn thing lol. And then I’d probably continue thinking about that book forever and wondering if I should’ve just finished. But everyone is different, and most people are far better at making decisions than I am lol. So it does make sense to stop if you’re sure. And yay, I’m not the only one who likes making verbs out of acronyms!

      1. AngelErin

        I used to do the same thing! I would keep thinking about a book I DNF’d and wondering if I should have kept going. It would drive me up the wall. Now I don’t do that so I feel okay, but yeah if that’s how you feel for each one then I fully get why you don’t DNF! ??

  6. Greg

    I’ll DNF is a book is boring me, sometimes I’ll be reading something and I’m like “this isn’t me. Next.” lol but it doesn’t happen very often. I don’t think I’ve DNF’d this year yet, and if I have I’ve forgotten! So it’s not a huge problem for me, but yeah I’ve done it. PArt of the problem is if a book is boring me I’m not likely to read it, so it sits and slows down everything else I would read next. And I have made myself finish stuff- sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. šŸ™‚

    I get your reasons though and they’re good ones. I’m like that w/ movies- if I start a movie I want to see how it ends, even if it’s terrible. Within reason- there have been a few where I’ve said forget this, but not many. As for the books though, I guess I’m lucky I don’t have to DNF much. I’m pretty picky what I pick out, if I was requesting ARC’s it might happen more?

    I kinda love that book bloggers have their own language sorta.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol if it’s just not for you, then I can understand that. I totally get why people do it, but I just can’t bring myself to DNF. But yeah, the books I really dislike do sometimes take me longer to get through if they’re so bad that I keep putting off reading, and that then puts off all the other books I have. So it does waste time in that way. I haven’t had any *that* bad lately, luckily.

      I guess the difference with movies is that they take way less time to finish. I’ve watched plenty of movies I’ve hated since I used to watch indie films all the time. Most of them were terrible lol, but kinda like with books, every so often I’d find a gem.

      Honestly, I try to be nearly as picky with ARCs as I am with books I buy. Even more so, maybe, since I know I’m going to be obligated to write a review, and I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews.

      It’s always fun being part of a group and having your own jargon that other people probably wouldn’t even understand if they heard you talking lol.

  7. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with DNFing or NOT DNFing. I agree with you though. I feel like if I’ve read enough of a book, I want to know how it ends, even if the end isn’t quite worth it. Plus, I see so many reviews of books where people didn’t really like a book and then said it turned around halfway through or they really liked the end, so you just never know! I have DNFed books before, and the last one was probably a year or so ago, but I feel like I tend to DNF books when I’m not that far into it. Maybe it’s not what I expected or wanted to read, so I just stop. If I’m further along, the chances are lower that I’ll DNF because I’m invested in some way.


    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree! To each his own. I just personally can’t bring myself to do it because, yeah, I still want to know how it ends. And sometimes books *do* get better. I mean, it’s definitely the less common outcome lol, but it does happen. That makes sense though, if you’ve DNFed books because they just weren’t what you expected. But yeah, the further in I get, the more I just want to know what happens.

  8. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I used to be the same way for all the reasons you mentioned, but that changed a couple years after I started blogging. There were times I felt like I was torturing myself trying to get through a book, and then knowing I had others waiting for me pushed me to DNF. Sometimes I’m just not feeling it. I don’t DNF often, though.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I feel like there will come a day when I will DNF… but I don’t know. I think I might be too indecisive for that, and not knowing whether the book might’ve gotten better or how it ended just might drive me crazy lol.

  9. Victoria Grace Howell

    I hate DNFing too. I have DNFed a book in years. Usually my curiosity wins out and makes me keep reading. XD I keep wanting to give the book a full chance. When I DNF it’s usually because a.) the book’s writing is so bad I can’t stand it or b.) the content is way too severe for my tastes. A few years back I read the first five pages of a book a friend self published and it hurt so bad I couldn’t keep going. Also a few years back I read a book where in the first five pages there were ten f-bombs and deus ex machina. XD Yeah nope done when I encounter that.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly! I’m too curious, and I want to give the book a chance. But your reasons for DNFing make sense. If a book has something you absolutely don’t like to read, like a bunch of f-bombs, that’s unlikely to change and wouldn’t be fun to read. And deus ex machina is just never good, especially if they couldn’t go five pages without it lol. But I actually don’t consider 5 pages to be DNFing. I mean, I read previews of books in Amazon to decide if I want to read them, and when I used to buy physical books, I always read the first pages of books at the bookstore to see if it caught my interest or not. So I just consider it deciding not to even *start* a book if I only read 5-10 pages.

  10. Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog

    I don’t DNF a lot. I really try and make it through every book I start. I did just DNF a book last weekend though – We Were Never Here – at 16%. I feel like the story was going nowhere, the MC wasn’t interesting nor was her perspective and I just didn’t care what happened. So I cut my losses. There are some books I put down that I will pick up again because it was more of a mood thing than not liking the book. I don’t count them as DNFs though. Great post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I get it, if you really don’t care what happens, then that’s probably a good sign that it’s not the book for you, especially if you had all sorts of other issues too. But that’s also a good idea to put books aside and see if maybe they’re better once you’re in the right mood. I would just have a problem doing that because I’m not someone who reads multiple books at once, and I even like to binge read series all the way through, so putting a book aside for more than a few days to read a bunch of others would totally throw off my stride and make me feel not invested anymore. Thanks!

  11. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    Ah, I totally agree with this. Although, I’ve DNF’d a few books. I think length plays into if I DNF it or not. Both books I’ve DNF were over 600 pages. So, I think I felt that it would have been a waste to finish them lol But I do agree that even books you don’t like are helpful because it tells you what you …well… don’t like lol Great discussion!

    Also, I feel like I’ve been so MIA from blogging lately so I hope you are doing well! <3

    1. Kristen Burns

      Ok, see, I’ve been avoiding a lot of those really long books because of the whole not-DNFing thing. It’s a lot more of a commitment than, say, a 300 page book. But I’m trying to bring myself to be able to quit long books so that I can read them more often, because yeah, there’s a difference between forcing yourself to finish 200 pages vs forcing yourself to finish 700. And I’m glad you agree with my points! Thanks! And same to you šŸ™‚

  12. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA

    I am one of those who DNF really fast! I also had a post a few months back about this…basically saying that I DNF too soon because some of the books that I initially DNF’d have become favorites! But I honestly still do but I don’t mind. Maybe it’s because I am a mood reader!

    It’s awesome that you don’t DNF, though. I wish I could!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Haha, how funny that some of them became your favorites! But you should totally read however you want. If you’re happy DNFing quickly, there’s nothing wrong with that šŸ™‚ I’m a mood reader too, but my mood doesn’t usually change mid-book, so the not-DNFing thing works out ok for me lol.

  13. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    One of my biggest reasons for DNF’ing a book is very bad grammar and spelling. I can’t stay in a story if I feel like there are so many mistakes I need my red pen… It takes away all my enjoyment, and since what I aim for when I’m reading is my own enjoyment, that just won’t do.
    I don’t DNF every often, and I think that’s also because I usually pick books I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy, and like you said, some books are kind of so bad they’re good šŸ˜€

    1. Kristen Burns

      I can ignore some grammar and spelling mistakes, as long there aren’t *too* many. But we all have different things that get under our skin, so I can understand if that’s your reason for DNFing.

      I don’t know if I’d say some books are so bad that they’re good lol, I just learn things like what not to do in my own writing, or I learn what I don’t like, or there’s at least one good thing about the book or something.

  14. Eva @ All Books Considered

    Wow that is awesome! I DNF books almost monthly. I used to never DNF prior to a few years ago but now I feel like so little books, so little time. My time is limited and I don’t want to be miserable when reading something so I DNF easily and without guilt!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I get not wanting to keep reading something you’re not enjoying because it takes time away from the million other books out there that you *could* be enjoying instead. No one should feel guilty! It’s just not something I think I’d be happy doing, at least not often.

  15. Pingback: Bought Bagged and Wrapping it Up #149 | (un)Conventional Bookviews

  16. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    I almost never mean to DNF a book. It’s more like I’m not reading it fast and nothing about it is making me particularly excited to read. So I’ll start reading something else to make sure I’m not going through some sort of slump and I almost ALWAYS intend to go back and finish it. And occasionally I will, but ughhh usually I never go back. And then I feel guilty that I didn’t finish it. And I feel like I can’t even go around and say things about it because I didn’t technically read the book… I read part of it. So basically I hate DNFing and try not to do it, but I also want reading to be fun not a chore, so it’s a weird balance. Cool topic šŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol yeah, that’s basically what happened me to me however many years ago when I last DNFed. I didn’t *mean* to, but it just happened. But now I just don’t start a new book until I finish the current one, so it doesn’t happen anymore. Don’t feel guilty though! If you were enjoying it so little that you just kinda drifted away from it, then maybe it’s for the best?

  17. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Wow, I’m impressed at your willpower. I don’t DNF very often and when I do I tend to flick through the book to the end to see what happens because the not knowing get to me too. It’s hard, though, I don’t like admitting defeat with books which is why I don’t DNF a book very often. I do think that you can admit defeat too soon and miss a good book and I just don’t want to think I wasted my time or money on a book. My problem is I’m a bit of a mood reader and I can into a book one day and hate it and then another day I will absolutely love it so I tend to be someone who will abandon a book and try again another day rather than flat out DNF-ing. Which probably means I have twice as many books as some people to read because I’ve not been able to admit defeat with it. I only admit true defeat if I’ve given a book a couple of chances and can tell flat out I’m not enjoying it with every page being a chore so then I flick to the end and find out what happens to sate my curiosity.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I think it’s really just a lack of willpower in the opposite way of DNFers lol. It’s that I just can’t bring myself to give up on the book even if I know it won’t get better. And yeah, exactly, when should you stop? Because I stopped too soon, I’d feel like I didn’t give the book enough of a chance. But once I reach a certain point, I’d just feel like I already wasted all that time if I quit and I might as well just finish now. I’m also a mood reader, but my moods don’t really change mid-book, so I at least don’t have to worry about that. But yeah if you’re putting books aside you probably do have twice as many books lol.

  18. Puput @ Sparkling Letters

    Omg I’m a notorious book DNF-er! </3 Haha I do this sooo often when I really didn't enjoy a book. It's mostly because when I think of my TBR, I know I have A LOT more books to read which are possibly better then the ones I'm contemplating to DNF so I just do :') Especially when I've heard negative reviews about it. I just don't want to invest my time on a doomed relationship šŸ˜› BUT I mostly only do it with ebooks. With paperbacks and hardbacks, well… to think of the money I've given to them. Also, they kinda stare at me from the bookshelves and guilt me into finish them. I also use noun as verbs and sometimes makeup adjectives and adverbs. Anywayyyy, I just discover your blog and I love it <3

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol you’re the opposite of me, but I get it! There are so many books on my TBR that I’d much rather not read books I dislike, but that’s why I’m picky and almost always read a bunch of reviews before deciding. Of course it’s not foolproof, so I do end up with books I don’t like, and then I just can’t bring myself to stop them. I can understand why you’re less likely to DNF with physical books since they cost more though, and lol to the way they stare at you and guilt you into finishing šŸ˜› And haha, yes, using any word as another part of speech or just plain making up words is way too much fun! And thank you! šŸ˜€

      1. Puput @ Sparkling Letters

        I used to do that (reading a bunch of reviews beforehand) but I don’t do it as often anymore because SPOILERS. I love my plot twists so I just rely on ratings šŸ˜› making up words is the best and I can only do it in the blogging world hahaha! You’re welcome! šŸ˜€

        1. Kristen Burns

          It does risk seeing spoilers, but it’s worth it to me because I like and dislike certain things and am a mood reader and don’t like going into books blind. And I don’t trust ratings, plus I read a lot of books with very few ratings, so it wouldn’t even be a reliable average, you know? But different things work better for each person šŸ™‚

  19. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    I can kind of see your perspective on this one. I’m a serious DNFer. It used to be more common for me to NOT finish a book than it was for me to finish one — I’m just so ADD I couldn’t keep my attention on one book long enough to stick with it (I blame college and those first few months with a “real job”). Ironically, blogging and audio books have helped me stay focused longer, and even when my mood shifts partway through a book, I can usually finish reading it. But still … If I get about 40% of the way in and I still don’t have a clue as to why I’m supposed to care, I’ll give up and switch to something I know will sit better with me.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh my goodness, it was more common for you to not finish a book?! How’d you ever get anything read? Haha. To each his own though, I don’t have anything against people DNFing, it just doesn’t work for me. But apparently I’m lucky since I’m a mood reader, but at least my moods are kind enough to wait until I’m done with the book to change. But see, if I got to 40%, I’d feel like I’m already at 40%, might as well finish or all that reading will have been wasted lol.

  20. S. J. Pajonas

    I DNF books all the time. Because once I hit my mid-30s and I had kids and NO TIME FOR ANYTHING, I realized that torturing myself with a book I didn’t enjoy or that was badly written was a waste of my time. I give a book to the 15% mark to win me over, and if not, I’m out. Some of them don’t even make it past the first chapter. It’s more of a waste of time to finish a painful book than to drop it 15% in.

    1. Kristen Burns

      That makes sense. It’s just, for me, I would always wonder if maybe the book would’ve gotten better. Just last week I read a book that for the first 12% felt like the characters were stereotypical and the romance was rushed and unrealistic… and then I ended up giving it 4.5 stars, even contemplated 5 stars, by the time I finished. And other books have been terrible until like 50% and then become favorites.

  21. irena_bookdustmagic

    I almost never DNF books.
    I say almost never bc in August I DNFed one, and before that I honestly don’t remember when was the last time I DNFed a book.
    My main reason for not DNFing is bc I write reviews and I feel like I can’t write a decent review if I haven’t read the whole book. Maybe it gets better after the first half but I wouldn’t know it if I DNF it.
    And just like you said, I feel like with every book I read I get something out of it.
    I like to say that “bad” books are ones that make you appreciate those books you love.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol how funny that you happened to DNF one book in years just before seeing this post. I wouldn’t write a review for a book either though if I DNFed it. I don’t like when people give low ratings to books that they DNFed because it just doesn’t feel fair. Sometimes books DO get better, or things do get explained, etc. And yes, I completely agree that the bad books only make me truly appreciate the great ones even more!

  22. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I almost never DNF books either – I think I’ve done it maybe twice in the past two years. I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t stand to DNF partially because then it feels like the time you’ve already spent on the book is wasted – I can’t handle that!!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, exactly! Like imagine DNFing 10 books at 50%, now they count for nothing and I read zero books, but I could’ve read 5 full books in that time! Glad I’m not the only one who sees it that way šŸ™‚

  23. Elnade

    I usually finish every book I start. I sometimes will put a book down that I’m not particularly enjoying for something I really want to read, but I always go back and finish it eventually. I am more likely not to finish an audio book I’ve started and that is usually due to the reader. If someone’s voice grates on my nerves or I’m just not relating to the characters on some level it is usually the narrator’s fault. I do usually then get the print book and try reading it, and then usually finish it. I just find that books I don’t finish, sit in the back of my brain with that what if question, what if it got better after I stopped reading? I just can’t seem to let that go. Which is probably why my TBR list just keeps getting longer.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t do audiobooks, but I can definitely understand why you’d stop if the narrator wasn’t working for you. I completely agree though, I think that, if I didn’t finish a book, it would just stay there in the back of my brain and I would forever wonder if it might’ve gotten better! It’s happened to me more than once, and I just can’t ignore that.

  24. Got My Book

    Although I do DNF (quite a bit sometimes), I would never criticize someone for not doing so. If it is more unpleasant for you to DNF than finish, then you need to do what works for you. Just this last week, I did read a book whose 2nd half I liked much better than the first; it does happen.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree, just in the opposite. Although I don’t DNF, I don’t have an issue with it that many people do. Reading is supposed to be fun, so we should definitely all do it in whatever way works for us. But yes, sometimes books do get better, and I’d be too worried about missing out on those books!

  25. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    So, I do DNF… but SUPER rarely. Like, I have DNFed 3 books ever I think. Yeah, 3. I almost DNFed a 4th, but for all those reasons above, I didn’t. I do regret not DNFing that one though, I don’t feel like I got anything out of it. But then I will read one of those unicorns that actually DOES get good, and I think that is probably the #1 reason I don’t DNF. (I also just thought of a post that I MUST DO about this- I will credit yours for the inspiration, of course!)

    The last book I DNFed was The Witch Hunter and it was because I was so bored I was getting angry. I had someone spoil it for me, and it was a good decision. I was over 50% through though, so I DID feel like it was a waste of time. There was one book I DNFed because the writing was such a mess I knew I would only be doing myself AND the author a disservice by continuing, so I stopped. And of course, I LOVE making DNF into a verb šŸ˜€ FABULOUS post, I love this, and I love that I have found a non-DNFer buddy šŸ˜‰

    1. Kristen Burns

      Well, if nothing else, that horrible book that you regret at least gave you a greater appreciation for the good books! But yes, those books that get better are definitely unicorns, but the fact that they *do* exist is enough to always make me keep reading! Oddly enough, it just happened to me last week with a book that literally was about a unicorn, hahaha. And yay, I inspired a post! I’m looking forward to reading it šŸ™‚

      There was one book I read recently that I actually did consider DNFing because both the story and the writing were horrendous, but it was so short that I read it in like a day anyway. It didn’t seem worth it to DNF since I knew I coulod get through it quickly. But see, after 50% I’d feel like I might as well finish lol. I’m actually surprised though at how many people have commented and said they don’t really DNF either! I see everyone talking about DNFing all the time, it seemed like there was no one out there like me lol.

  26. Kei @ The Lovely Pages Reviews

    Okay, I literally just wrote a wonderful comment and the page crashed and I lost it so I’ll keep my second attempt short. *cries*

    My GR DNF shelf has 8 books, which I couldn’t stand to read another word from, I totally get your point but if the characters and the plot make me need an entire week to read a book then by the time something good happens, I’ll be too pissed off to enjoy it. Still, I recently loved Anna and the French Kiss and it took me a while to go beyond the second paragraph…

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh no I’m sorry about your comment šŸ™ It’s so disheartening when that happens.

      I feel like 8 really isn’t bad. I can understand why you DNFed if you were miserable reading it and were just going to hate it anyway at that point. But yeah, sometimes there are those books that surprise us! I haven’t read that one though.

  27. Tasya

    I also rarely DNF books. I always pushed through or at least skim reads the chapters to finish it. I feel like I owe it to the authors, they pour their heart and soul into the books, the least I could do is read them and give a honest review of what they did wrong. And when I do DNF books, I usually pick them back up in 1/2 years time šŸ™‚ I also agree with your points about wasting time, I really hate to stop in the middle of a book and thinking about all the time I spent on it but not finishing it!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Huh, that’s a way of looking at it that I never really thought about. I usually don’t review books I don’t like, unless they’re review copies. But yeah, to me it just feels like all the time I already spent reading is what would be wasted if I quit!

  28. Literary Feline

    I do not easily DNF a book, but I am one of those people who can–and does from time to time. I used to finish every book I started with the very rare exception–and I don’t count that because I do plan to go back to the book someday (after 15+ years away from it. Haha). My perspective shifted about five years ago, after the birth of my daughter and I went back to to work full-time, when my reading time became so much less. I suddenly have less patience with books I am not enjoying.

    I do understand all of your arguments, especially considering I once felt that way too. I can’t tell you the number of times a book I didn’t like at first turned out to be really good, and I was glad to have stuck with it. But I have also regretted wasting my time reading some books because they were complete bores.

    I have nothing new to add to the discussion really. My reasons for DNFing are the same as those who have already commented. Bad writing is one–I can overlook a lot for a good story and great characters, but sometimes even then the writing overshadows it. When that happens, you know it’s bad. The other, and probably the most common, is lack of interest, namely complete and utter boredom. I’m not talking slow, because slow isn’t always a bad thing. It’s when I don’t care about the characters or the story and do not care what happens. There is no skipping to the end to see what happens because I REALLY don’t care. With these books, I often hang on longer than I wish I had. I start and read other books while reading that one to see if it’s just my mood. Often times I completely forget about the book, try to get back into it again when I remember, realize it’s not working, and then finally give up. As I said before, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I have no regrets.

    I think most of my reading slumps are the result of my sticking with books I am not enjoying. And I really hate reading slumps and find them tortuous. Haha

    As you and others have said, there is no right or wrong. It’s all a matter of preference. It makes for a fun discussion though. šŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      I totally get it, why you DNF. With limited reading time, it makes sense that you only want to spend it on books you’re actually enjoying. I just can’t bring myself to do that though, at least not at this point in time.

      I agree, I can overlook writing flaws if the story and characters are good enough, but if it’s so bad that it’s overshadowing everything, that’s definitely a problem. But yeah, I think complete lack of interest would probably be the reason if I were to DNF a book. If you don’t regret stopping or ever bother wondering about the book, it does sound like the right decision.

      But exactly! It’s just a matter of preference, no right or wrong answers. I just like getting people talking and hearing their thoughts and reasons for things šŸ™‚

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  31. Zoe @ Readabilitea

    I really love this post! I’ve been thinking about DNFing a lot too and although I would like to be sure enough to DNF a book, I haven’t been able to for quite a while. Like you say, my curiosity gets the better of me and I’m always hopeful that it can get better. Also sometimes, by time I’ve realised that it’s perhaps a book I want to DNF, I’m usually close enough to the end to finish it anyway. I think I would definitely DNF if I found myself complaining about it to people a lot, but luckily this hasn’t been the case with any books I’ve read recently.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I feel the same, I feel like I’d sometimes like to maybe DNF if a book just really isn’t working for me, that way I could take more chances on books I’m on the fence about, but I just never feel sure enough. I always want to know what happens, if it gets better. And I want to give it a fair chance, but by then I’m so close to the end that I might as well finish lol.

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  33. Fadwa

    I loved reading through this post because I kind of related to your words!, I only ever DNFed 2 books in my life. The first one was ages ago, a bit too philosophical for me and the second was a few months back when I read a first book in a series didn’t like it and decided to give the 2nd installment a chance but I didn’t like how I felt reading it, I got annoyed and angry at the characters and plot haha so I ended up stopping at 34% !
    That being said, I generally push through books even if I don’t like them because as you said I’m way to curious to stop haha.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yay, we think alike! Hmmm, I feel like that would more likely something I could do, DNFing the second book in a series. I mean, at that point you probably already had a feel for the author’s style of storytelling, and so you knew it wasn’t going to get better if you already disliked it so much.

      But yeah, I really do get too curious!

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  36. Amy

    I totally understand this! I have DNFed VERY few books. Really. Maybe… Five? And I’m an accidental DNFer. I will never intentionally (at least thus far) put down a book and just think that it was so horrible that I absolutely cannot finish reading it. All of my DNFs so far are just because I started reading other books, I was in a reading slump, or the book was just really slow and I had to return it to the library before I could finish it. I can’t imagine how terrible a book would have to be for me to just intentionally give up on it altogether.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yay, a fellow non-DNFer! Although since I wrote this, I may or may not have DNFed two books? It really depends on your definition though since I didn’t go past 10% on either one. I kinda just started and decided it wasn’t for me. I consider that more like previewing the book lol. I mean, honestly I have read some books that were truly awful and I kind of wanted to give up, so I can understand why some people do it, but it would feel like I wasted all the time I already spent reading if I were to give up later in a book. Like, some people DNF at 70%?! At that point I say might as well finish it lol.