Why I Don’t Mind the Dreaded DNF

We all hate it. Devoting time (and, let’s be honest, effort) to reading a book that you’re hoping will be brilliant, but finding out that it’s just not for you. A lot of readers persevere and keep going until that last page. Why? No one wants to DNF.

For those of you who don’t know, DNF stands for “Did Not Finish”, meaning a book that you decided not to complete – as far as I know – for good.

I’ve seen a lot of people say that they hate DNF – they can’t give up on a story halfway through, what’s the point? I, on the other hand, really don’t mind not finishing a book.

Look, I love reading and I’d never consider it a waste of time but… reading a book I’m not interested in isn’t my thing.

But Jordyn, you have to give it a chance!

Well, it really depends what you consider DNFing to be. If I read the first chapter of a book, then decide to read another one, is that still a DNF? Do I have to reach the one half mark? Two thirds? For me, I can decide whether or not I’m going to finish a book about 100-150 pages in, across all genres. If you haven’t caught my attention by then, you’re probably not going to.

Like with Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oaks. I was so excited for this book: gorgeous cover, set in Wonderland, intriguing premise, did I mention a gorgeous cover? However, 100 pages in, I was bored out of my mind. Should I have read a bit more before making a decision? Maybe. But I’ve put it down and have no regrets yet.

But Jordyn, what if it gets better?

That’s always a possibility. If I feel like the book is going to get more intriguing (or have heard that from someone else), I’ll probably push through to the good parts, and hopefully they’ll be worth it. Sometimes, however, I really can’t be bothered, and there doesn’t seem to be hope on the horizon. Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson started off okay. I wasn’t in love with it, but it piqued my interest. It was all downhill from there. Bizarre stuff started happening, a love triangle flew in out of nowhere and it just all got so random. In this case, the book got worse, instead of better, and with only 50 pages left I just shelved it and haven’t looked back. Three words: DID. NOT. FINISH.

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But Jordyn, don’t you want to know how it ends?!

ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY I want to know what happens to the characters! For the most part, the reason I push through books to the end when I’m not enjoying them is because I’m interested in the character’s story or the romance – how is it resolved? Who lives? Who dies? Who tells your story? It’s the number one reason I decide not to DNF a book.

For example, I really didn’t enjoy Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra. About halfway through, I was prepared to walk away from it. Although the setting in the Philippines (I loved reading about some of the foods the characters had on the regular day-to-day) was pretty cool, the book’s real saving grace was the romance! Do the main character and her love interest get together? In this case, I did finish it, but didn’t really like the ending either.

But Jordyn, everyone loves this book, so you should just finish it!

NO NO NO NO. Sorry, can’t do it. While a book being popular definitely has some influence over whether or not I want to finish (or even pick up) a book, for the most part, it’s not a deciding factor. I know everyone and their grandmother love The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

So I gave the trilogy two chances. I read Clockwork Angel and thought it wasn’t all that great. Then I tried Clockwork Prince and I’m sorry guys – but that series just didn’t do it for me. I DNFed it halfway through. Despite the hype, I’ve put down both that trilogy and The Mortal Instruments for good.

But Jordyn, how can you not care about DNFing?!

Here’s the thing: forcing myself to read something that I’m genuinely not enjoying makes reading less fun. It’s supposed to bring me comfort, and not feel like a chore. I appreciate all the time that authors put into weaving these amazing tales. It’s definitely not easy, and it takes a lot of their time. I’m thankful every day for the talent that people possess to create these beautiful things called books.

All that being said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with DNFing. There are so many books I want to read, so many stories that I haven’t gotten to yet, it feels like, to be frank, a waste of time to read something that I just don’t want to. That’s what school required reading is for.

Plus, the way I see it is this: if I wrote a book, would I want my readers to struggle through to the end of it, or pick up something new that they might enjoy more? The answer is that I would want my readers to move on. Not every book is for everyone. And while I hate giving up on a book, I know that I can’t love everything I read, no matter how much I try!

But remember guys, no DNF is set in stone! If you declare a book as DNF but later decide that you want to give it another shot, go for it!

Happy new year! How do you feel about DNFing? How often do you do it? Any hyped books that you just couldn’t get through? Any books you DNFed books that you decided to give another shot? Tell me in the comments! 🙂

Stay bookish,

Jordyn

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11 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Mind the Dreaded DNF

  1. Great post! I haven’t DNF’d anything (yet) and whilst I don’t know if I ever could because I’m annoyingly stubborn 😅 (I did come close with ACOTAR and Stealing Snow) I totally understand and support people doing it. There’s no point reading something you’re not enjoying!!

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    1. YOU HAVE NEVER DNFed?? That is quite a record, keep it up! It’s kind of a bummer to DNF something, especially if you thought you’d really like it. But in the end, it really does come down to what you’re enjoying and what you aren’t. KEEP THAT STREAK ALIVE. Thanks!

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  2. This is such a great post! I have such a hard time with putting a book down even if every word is putting me through agony…I definitely need to lighten up on DNFing! I think a lot of the time it’s because most of the books I read are books I’ve purchased, so I feel the need to finish it just so I feel like I didn’t waste my money. But still, I have no problem giving up on a TV show a few episodes in, I don’t know why I make myself trudge through books I don’t like. Reading is the best when it’s of an enjoyable book, but torture when it’s not.

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    1. I get what you’re saying. I’m fairly lucky, because I usually only buy books that I KNOW I’ll love. There are always exceptions though, like with Queen of Hearts and Dreamland. Hopefully if you do end up buying a book that doesn’t suit your fancy, it has a pretty cover?? For staring at and admiring on your shelf haha! I think it’s way easier to drop a TV show than a book, probably because you devote way more time to show, watching fifty minute episodes for multiple seasons. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome post! I love the great DNF. It saves both me (and, later, the book because I would have to write a snarky review) a lot of trouble. This may be my stance, though, because I’ve never gotten knee-deep into a book before deciding to DNF. The urge usually comes within the first five or so chapters (or 1-2 hours in if it’s an audiobook).

    I’m a firm believer that not every book is meant for every person, so I have no problem dropping a book and shipping it off to my nearest thrift shop without batting a lash– like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell which I DNF’d with the quickness and have no intentions on going back to… EVER. In that same vein, though, I’ve put many a book on hold for MONTHS and gone back to them. I don’t consider them DNF at any point because I knew I wasn’t dropping them due to lack of interest. I was only dropping them because my mood changed, and I’m such mood reader.

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    1. I’m exactly the same way! I’ll read the first three chapters of a book, put it down, but pick it up six months later, because I’m still very interested in the story! I just sometimes get in these modes where all I can seem to do is start books but not continue into the meat of the story. It’s weird, and frankly really irritating, so I’m always glad when the feeling passes. Thanks for the comment!

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  4. Last year I DNF some books because like you, if by the first couple of chapters it doesn’t get my attention sorry but I won’t continue. I hate having to settle for a book I’m not enjoying just to ‘finish it’. I DNF Dorothy Must Die at chapter 17 [because by then it was stuck and not interesting anymore] and I also DNF The Raven Boys around chapter 3. For The Raven Boys I will pick it up again but there are others DNF books I certainly won’t continue ><

    Liked by 1 person

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