Discussion, Review

How Often Do You DNF a Book?

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Until recently I have been reluctant to DNF a book, I’d struggle through or speed read (that is skip huge chunks) and call it read. But just this month a couple of things changed my mind about this. I am going to take on a new attitude towards books.

Firstly I read a post by Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs Darcy encouraging readers to not finish books that they just weren’t into.  She argues that five or so hours reading a book is time investment from a reader and so the books should be worth that investment. I’d always thought of the hours spent by the author writing it!

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However I can now see that some books just aren’t for me. It’s not that the book is bad, but rather just not to my taste and I made a mistake in choosing to read it. This happened to be with Turning the Pages by Penelope Janu. I liked the idea of it involving the book world and the main character was an author. But… what I found and can own was the writing was very upbeat chick lit and the main character seemed to ditsy around.  I closed that book I am not sure how many pages in and returned it to the library. There is a queue waiting for it on reserve and readers that will just delight in it, but not me. I felt relieved and moved on.

When I have a book that I am counting the pages or looking to see what % I have read, it may be a sign that I am finding it not to my taste. Anne Bogel says to learn from the books you DNF. So I’ve learned and I sort of knew that I don’t enjoy upbeat chick lit romance and to leave it alone to those who do!

It hurts when I’ve bought the book (big OUCH) although Amazon and Audible are pretty good about returns although sometimes I don’t read them for so long after buying I wouldn’t do it.  But I have until now struggled on with the REVIEW  book! However from this day forward I have decided that they too will hit the DNF slot and I will just let the publisher know that. That’s fair feedback I do believe.

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I will count the DNF books for 2019 and feel successful if the list is longer than other years because that means I have moved on to books more to my taste and most likely avoided a reading slump. I will be happy to be guilty as charged and be a happy DNFer.

How about you? How often do you DNF a book, how do you feel about that? What was the last book you DNF’d and why?

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I am linking up with Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight. Check out all the discussions for January.

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46 thoughts on “How Often Do You DNF a Book?”

  1. Despite reading and now listening to 250 + books a year, I did not learn the art of DNFing until my late 40s. I always worried I would miss something or that the book would suddenly become awesome. I would struggle and then not read for weeks. Once I learned it was ok, it opened doors to trying new authors and genres. I rarely get into book slumps now.

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  2. I’m acutally pretty good about DNFing. But I just don’t count most book as DNFs. If I don’t like a book within the first 50 pages, I just return it to the library. I only buy the books that I think I will love, usually after having read something else by the author to be sure. It’s very rare that I’ll make it far into a book and then DNF it, but I’ve done it a few times and always been relieved.

    I also think the worst are my review books because a lot of the time there isn’t a lot of information about the book out. So if the synopsis and story don’t match or the writing doesn’t work fro me, I feel kind of stuck with it. I’m still building up the nerve to DNF those books instead of forcing myself through.

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    1. I had my first DNF for a review book this month but I did send a statement to the publisher saying why I wasn’t reviewing it and what put me off. So I guess that’s good feedback, but I wouldn’t put it online or on my blog.

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  3. I rarely “DNF”, and generally don’t do so with review books as I find it very unprofessional (the same goes for reviewing and rating a book which I put on the DNF shelf). Otherwise I am all for putting down a book that I do not like.

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  4. I rarely DNF books – I am a bit of a perfectionist (trying to recover from that malady!) and usually finish…and I read magazines from front to back, every page, too!

    That said, I did DNF a few last year – more than usual. One started out as merely quirky and I was OK with that, but when one of the main characters became sexually obsessed with dolphins, I turned it off (on audio) – I’m out! I was once assigned a book for a paid review that was translated from German, a novel narrated by the pond behind the house (??), and once the mother started have sexual fantasies about her 13-year old son, I e-mailed my editor and just said, “Nope. Sorry. Can’t do it.” It was definitely the strangest book I;ve ever read (and that includes the dolphin one! lol).

    I agree with you (and Anne Bogel) that it’s healthy to be able to put something down that you’re not enjoying. I have SO MANY books that sound amazing that I’m waiting to get to!

    Here’s to a good year with lots of good books!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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    1. Sue I think those are definite reasons to DNF a book, mine are usually much weaker, but with so many books to read – moving on is good. Definitely raising my glass to 2019 and lots of good books.

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  5. Not finishing a book is rare for me, but I actually just did that with THE LAST ROMANTICS. I just could not get into it even though it had RAVE reviews. I did write a review because I felt I could give my opinion from what I had read.

    I do feel bad because of all of the work the author did to create the book, but if I am not enjoying it, no sense continuing.

    I used to trudge through books even if they were for review, but like you I won’t continue or I will read as much as I can to at least give a review about what made me give the rating I did.

    GREAT POST…thanks.

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  6. I DNF really quickly – usually in a chapter or two. I am a slow reader and I want to read a lot of books so I feel like I shouldn’t spend time reading a book that just doesn’t give me enjoyment. I have picked up the books I DNF’d again, though and sometimes, I enjoy it the second time! I am a mood reader so everything I read depends on my current mood!

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    1. Yes sometimes I wonder if its my mood when I DNF, I feeling tired or impatient or something. So far I haven’t gone back to the books I have DNF’d and I keep a few notes on why I didn’t. Yes a few chapters in and often a reader sure can tell if its for them – or not!

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  7. I’m a big advocate of DNFing… And I love to hear when other people feel more inclined to DNF more often. I think DNFing can be seen as a bad thing, with a negative reputation in some respects, but it honestly isn’t.

    Just with other areas in life, if something isn’t working out for you, and you’ve given it a time investment, we tend to look at why it isn’t working and move on from there… The same can said be said for books. By DNFing we’re able to understand and adapt to our reading habits & preferences more, in order to maximise our enjoyment of reading. That can only be a good thing, surely?!

    Great discussion!

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    1. Jade yes, I so agree with you. I just stopped reading a book yesterday – a review book, the first ever that I did not finish. Quite a few good reviews for it on GR but just was boring me silliy!! And I think the understanding why of not finishing does help us see what we prefer to read.

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  8. This sounds like a great plan for books that you just don’t feel connected to. I try to be hugely careful about choosing but sometimes you just don’t know until you start a book whether it’s a good fit or not.

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  9. I’m trying to get better about DNFing books because not only do I waste time I could be reading something I enjoy and it also tends to send me into a slump. What usually happens is I’ll put down a book to take a break or to read something else or really just for the night and end up never picking it back up. Every once in awhile I’ll hit a point and think okay that’s it I’m done with this but not very often.

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  10. I usually don’t have a problem DNFing, but I’m trying to get better with books I’ve received via Netgalley, or a publisher. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. I’ve noticed I obviously push myself harder when it’s a review copy.

    I used to charge forward and finish the whole book, but now I’m much more ruthless in that regard XD

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  11. For years, I would not DNF a book. Like, ever. I think that, as I’ve gotten older, my time has become more precious and I’m pickier about what I’m reading. Often, I’ll put the book aside and try again later, but not always.

    It’s kind of freeing, isn’t it?

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  12. I was always of a mind that I should finish a book, give it a shot and try at least. Then I picked up Slaughterhouse-Five and realized that there was nothing in the world that could make me finish this horrible book. From then on I’m totally okay with not finishing a book, I just follow Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50. Read to the bottom of page 50 and ask yourself if you like the book. If you don’t then put it down and find something else to read.

    I did end up picking up Slaughterhouse-Five and finishing it and yea, I probably shouldn’t have.

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  13. I rarely DNF a book, first most books I read are contractually for review so I’m obligated to read it, and for those books if I don’t like it I have to first determine if it’s not to my tastes or was badly written edited etc.. and base my review on the techniques rather than enjoyment, I won’t give those books an outstanding review but if its well written it’s not the author’s fault. For personal books I’m pretty sure I’ll like them before I shell out any $$. Great post Kathryn!!

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  14. I have been guilty of not finishing a book. I think I had just a handful DNFs last year. I think life’s to short to spend hours in a book that I’m not enjoying. However, I do have one exception though, if I received an ARC. I will finish an ARC no matter what just so I can give a review of the entire ebook.

    Great discussion post!

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    1. Yes I am ambivalent about review books but… I a) will be extra careful from now on with the choice and b) stop if its not grabbing me. I’ll then be happy to send a mini review to the publisher saying why I didn’t finish.

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  15. Hi Kathryn! DNF – ahhh, I got it. Is that allowed? I thought there was a book police that will arrest you if you DNF a book. Oh the stress of it! HAHAHA! I usually force myself to finish a book, mostly because I always hope it will get better. The current book I’m reading is exactly that case, where I didn’t get into it until the 8th chapter and now I can’t wait to see how it ends. But you have shared valid points that I will try to keep in mind for the next book I don’t get into. ~smile~ Roseanne

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  16. I will DNF in a heartbeat if a book isn’t for me. It hasn’t happened yet with any review books, but I scrutinize them the same way. If I don’t think I can champion it, then I can’t finish it. (Although I do hate-read sometimes…)

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  17. Woohoo!!! I started DNFing last year and I feel like I’ll DNF more and more this year for the same reasons! I read for me and it’s not worth the potential slug or full slump. I’m more than happy to DNF a book I bought and go finish a library book I love and call it square! 😉

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