DNFing Books | a discussion

DNFing books, karina readsDespite all my hopes of reading more books this year and setting a ridiculously high goodreads challenge as encouragement, I am not having the best start to the year reading-wise. I have ‘DNF’d’ four, that’s right four, books already this year and the time I wasted pushing through to at least half way of those four, was time I could have spent reading other, more fabulous books.

The fact that I am even DNFing books at this point is surprising me as I thought I was getting better at picking stories that work for me. Surely I should know my own tastes by now? Perhaps it would be different if I was dipping into different genres trying to get a feel for new-to-me works and I was struggling, but the books I’ve put down this year have all been fantasy reads. And fantasy is my jam!

For those who don’t know, DNF stands for ‘did not finish’ and it wasn’t something I usually do, I always try to force myself to complete a current read before starting something new. Well, over the past few months that has been changing. I am slowly getting better at stopping when I’m really not enjoying a book or when I’m not getting that excited feeling when I think about reading. I always know when I’m reading a good book when I don’t want to put it down and I’m desperate to pick it up again, often reading waay too late at night to get to the end. If I’m not getting that feeling, I really need to be putting it down.

What may seem like an easy decision, life’s too short to read books you don’t like after all, I think there are several reasons that I find it difficult to just stop and move on. If I’ve invested money and time into something, it feels wrong to stop part way through. It feels like failing, it feels like wasted energy, it feels wrong to not see something that has cost me through to the end. Sometimes it feels wrong to have an opinion on a story I haven’t fully read and that weighs on my mind when deciding whether or not to keep going. This is made worse if the book in question is really popular amongst friends, reviewers or in the media. It’s easy to feel like I’ve just not read enough to ‘get it‘ yet, so I keep trudging on hoping to feel that spark, but in reality, if it’s not for me it leaves me feeling disappointed and usually marks the start of a reading slump.

These feelings can feel ten times stronger if I’m were lucky enough to receive a review copy or if I’m reading as part of a group/book club. I don’t know about you, but I feel like if I’ve put it out into the world that I am reading a certain book or if I’ve received it via NetGalley, I feel obligated to finish it and post a review. Now, that is something I clearly put on myself and actually no one really cares if I do or don’t – but it does affect the way I read and why I try so hard to finish every book. Especially if I got an early copy, then I really hate DNFing, or writing a negative review. But I have to remember that the whole point of a review is to give my honest opinion. Personally I like reading lower star rated reviews online because what didn’t work for them, might work for me. There are also people whose tastes are similar to mine and I enjoy seeing what they thought, regardless of whether it’s good, bad or in-between.

But despite all of this, I feel guilty when I stop reading. I feel guilty when I just don’t get on with a book. I feel guilty putting my negative thoughts out into the world because I would never want to put anyone else off reading a book nor feel like I’m attacking an author who obviously worked really hard on writing and rewriting their work until it was ready to be published. Of course I would never write anything negative about an author themselves, don’t get me wrong, but I can imagine how horrible it must feel for there to be negative reviews of work they put their heart and soul into and that makes me feel bad too.

Going forward, I think I need to change my mindset and not consider DNFing as ‘giving up‘ or as ‘failing‘. These are too negative for what in reality, should be a very simple and easy decision. Life is for the taking, why on earth should I force myself to do something I am not enjoying? I wouldn’t keep eating something I didn’t like after one bite now would I? No. And to be fair to myself, I do always try to emphasise that it didn’t work for me personally, not that others shouldn’t try it for themselves.

So here’s to 2019, the year I DNF when necessary, stay honest with my reviews (ideally just write something when I don’t enjoy a book) and not feel guilty in the slightest. Well, at least try to be better at it.

What do you think? Do you put books down if you’re not enjoying them, or power on through? I’d love to know.

14 thoughts on “DNFing Books | a discussion

  1. I totally understand your pain. DNFing books is a hard choice, like you, I had the mentality that if it’s something (physical books especially) I purchase, I definitely have to finish it; I have stopped doing this though. It’s even worse when it comes to requesting ARCs. This is also why I don’t buy physical books I’m not sure anymore. They’re expensive, takes up space, now I only physical books unless it’s a book by my favorite authors or books that I’ve read, loved, and know will reread one day. These days, I read first on ebooks, if I really loved it, I’ll buy the physical for collection. Anyway, my thoughts:

    I put a rule upon myself, if I can’t even reach the 50% section, I DNF without review or rating; remove it from my Goodreads bookshelf bye bye adios that’s it. But if I can push through 50% even when it’s not working for me, I’ll give it 1 or 2 stars if it still doesn’t have any improvement. As for ARCs, luckily I’ve been very careful in requesting books to review and I haven’t had a DNF so far. I only request books I’m really quite sure. Of course, this isn’t foolproof, sometimes a book that doesn’t work for you will always be there despite all the praises.

    Seeing that fantasy is your favorite genre (like me) and the books you DNFed are all fantasy, it may be a good time to ponder and think, maybe it’s time to take a little break by reading other genres for a while. Sometimes we don’t realize that we’re in our favorite genre slump. Don’t get me wrong, fantasy is my favorite genre to read, but everything that’s too much is never good, and once in a while I will have to take a break from reading fantasy. Just a few books break and usually I’m back fully recharged again! 😀

    I hope it helps and your DNF slump is over, Karina!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you agree, Petrik. I’m definitely more reluctant to buy new books if they’re a new to me author – especially hardbacks! I try to ebook too, and you’re right, there is less pressure to push through those. It’s also the time. If i’m not enjoying it and i’m past 50% i’ve probably been reading it on and off for quite a while and i dislike ‘wasting’ that time by DNFing. But i need to get over that – or more confident in stopping earlier on 😄
      Yes, I think you might be right about reading something else. The only book i am enjoying is the audiobook of Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Maybe i should stick to non-fiction for a bit. I keep trying to pick up some fantasy favourites (Hobb, Eames, GGK) that i have left to read, but in the mood/luck i’m having with books at the moment i’m worried i won’t enjoy them just because of that, rather than because of the books themselves 🙈😂 who would’ve thought there’d be such issues with reading?!
      Thank you for all your tips and tricks Petrik. Very interesting and hopefully it’ll work for me!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I think we look at it too negatively, and dislike wasting time. But ultimately, it’s a book, if i don’t like it, i don’t 😄 must be more confident in putting them down 😂🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to persevere and finish all the books, even when I was not liking them. But now I dnf the books which I strongly feel are not going to get any better. It took me a while not to feel bad about it, though!
    I still read books that I end up not liking, because I thought they could still be worth of the effort at some point. I review those, but not the ones that I dnf. The ones I don’t finish I just briefly mention at the end of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That all sounds very sensible! I’m glad i’m not the only one who feels bad, at least initially. Gotta do what’s right for us at the end of the day 😄💕

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I use to ever DNF a book but now I don’t it when necessary, which luckily isn’t that often. Normally I give a book 100 pages (or 200 if it’s a big book) and if it’s not working for me by then I DNF it. Hopefully you’ll start read a load of fantastic books soon! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds good! 100/200 pages is a good amount much better than at least half 😂🙈 i’m going to try that next time i’m not immediately hooked. Thank you! Me too!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I get what you mean about feeling bad for DNF’ing books received for review. I don’t often DNF them but I do feel bad when I do so. However it’s unavoidable sometimes. When I do it, I send a note to the author/agent or post a note in the feedback section on NetGalley stating why I was unable to complete it.
    Sometimes a book doesn’t work for you even though it’s from your fav genre and should be something you’d like. In those cases for me, it’s either the writing style or an annoying character that turns me off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to see i’m not alone. It is really awkward when it’s a review as you say, but i suppose it’s good for them to have a few bad reviews too, for balance. We can’t all like them all! I do always try to specify that it just didn’t work for me, not that it won’t work for others.


  5. I usually try to persevere with short books but would be more likely to DNF a long one because I just don’t have time to spend on a long book I’m not enjoying, haha. But for short ones I’d try to finish so I can write down my full thoughts on them (I don’t rate or review books I don’t finish).

    Last year I DNF’d three books: Death in Spring because even though it was short, I didn’t ‘get’ it at all; The Queen of Attolia because I was having trouble following it on audio (even though I love Steve West, haha); and Educated because even though it was an easy enough read, it was around the time I was obsessed with Kate Daniels and I just lost interest. I won’t be going back to Death in Spring or Educated, but I’d like to try The Thief series again in print form!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried listening to Educated and also DNF’d it. It was okay, but i was never excited to reach for it. Life’s too short! 😄


  6. this is a serious problem for me too!! definitely feels bad when you DNF a book (at least for me personally) because I payed for it and I thought I would like it and it’s this massive disappointment in myself for choosing wrong and i start second guessing myself and questioning myself like ‘did i have a gut feeling that i won’t like it/it wouldn’t be the book for me but i ignored it (because of reasons)?’ and its a circle of constant stress in my life as a book reader lol. most of the time i force myself to finish and dread it and then fall into a tiny and/or big reading slump (depends) but i just can’t seem to stop myself? argh, its harddd. i love that you’ll try to dnf without guilt this year and if you succeed, please tell me all your secrets haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It IS so hard!! I’m glad i’m not alone, it really is so illogical though – we wouldn’t put ourselves through something we didn’t like in any other aspect of our lives 😄

      Liked by 1 person

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