To DNF or Not To DNF

Putting down books or DNFing (DNF stands for Did Not Finish) is a contentious topic within the book community. Many people don’t like leaving books incomplete. Other people feel they have to reach a certain amount of pages before they can give up on a book.

Personally, I DNF a lot. If I don’t get into a book within the first few pages. Or at least see some promise. Then I will put it down.

I’m both proud of this, and I’m not. No one wants to give up on a book. Whether we’ve bought or borrowed, if we’ve picked up a book then we want to read it. We want to love it. Giving up on a book might mean we can move onto reading something that we’ll actually like. But it’s still disappointing. So by DNFing a lot I both free up space. And I also wind up getting a lot of books that I don’t actually like.

That probably means that I don’t have the strongest idea of what I like and dislike in a book.

I think that something we need to remember is that there are a lot of books out there. And we’re not going to like all of them. Even those we will like, we might not like the first time we try to read them. It’s okay to put down a book because you don’t like it, or you’re just not in the mood.

I get that it can feel easier to say why you didn’t like a book if you finished it. Sometimes a book can even get better really close to the end. But reading a book you don’t like can slow your reading down and even make you not want to read. What’s the point of that? There are so many books out there that we already know we want to read. We should be reading those rather than trying to stick it out with something we don’t like for reasons that, let’s face it, don’t always make sense.

It’s completely up to you if you also record what books you DNF or not. I don’t include mine on spreadsheets or GoodReads as I don’t want to count an unfinished book. That’s my personal preference. But I’m not going to finish a book just to record it if that makes sense. You can DNF books and count them towards your reading goal, or you can leave them off. That’s completely up to you. But if you aren’t putting books you don’t like down because you don’t want to record unfinished books…just stop. Put the book down, don’t record the book and give yourself a break.

With the way the world is, we need to be willing to give ourselves breaks where we can. If we don’t have to finish a book, we shouldn’t if we’re not enjoying it.

What are your guys’ opinions on DNFing books? Let me know down below.

12 thoughts on “To DNF or Not To DNF

  1. A few years ago I was very adamant on just finishing everything I read no matter if I liked it or not, which caused me to start to dislike reading, to dislike books. But since everyone was very gung-ho on that DNF is BAD (and a lot of people are still like that), which coloured my vision as well. Thankfully, friends at a group I was a member of back then convinced me to DNF stuff. Not just them, also my (now) husband. It was a freeing experience, well, at first it was hard as I felt guilty. But now after years of DNF-ing I barely feel guilty. Now I am DNF-ing quite a bit. Haha. I do try to give a book 2-3 chapters, but really, if it doesn’t click at all I am not even going that far. I got other books that I want to read. Other books that ask to be read.
    As for shelving them.. I generally only shelf DNF books if I read more than 40-50%. Some books just start good and then start sucking so bad. So to warn myself (as I just cannot remember all books) I list them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes people act like DNFing is so bad. But reading isn’t a job so you shouldn’t have to finish books you dont like. I’m glad you DNF now though!

      That makes sense about shelving them. Usually I can remember if I disliked a book so I’m okay with not listing them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep. Some people think that a struggle makes a book better. No, just no. I agree, and yeah, I am glad as well!

        I wish I had your skill! Mine is a little bit glitchy. I have had it happen before that I would bring a book home from the library only to find out I read it + wasn’t a fan.


  2. I very rarely DNF books, and in the past I hated the thought of leaving it unfinished so I forced myself to get through the most boring and terrible stories that I had no interest in whatsoever. But I’ve gotten past that mindset that I couldn’t leave something unfinished over the years, and now it doesn’t worry me as much. I’m also pretty good at picking books that I’ll like, so it’s only a rare occasion when I’m putting something down because I don’t like it.
    Nice discussion post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m trying to DNF books more often, since there is no point in reading a book I’m not enjoying! I try to give a book around 100 pages, or 20%,before I decide to DNF, but it depends a bit on the length of the book!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do my best to get through everything I start mostly because I continue to wonder what happened to the characters. Even if I put a book down for a while, it usually drives me crazy not knowing, and I eventually pick it back up again and finish it. The main exception is nonfiction. I have no problem DNFing a boring nonfiction book. Luckily, I am also pretty good at picking out things I find interesting. So, it isn’t often a problem. I do agree, though. If something is so awful that it is not fun to read at all, then just stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hallo, Hallo Rosina,
    When I was a first year book blogger, I admit, I struggled with DNF’ing the stories – as I wanted to give each novel I was given as a book blogger (ie. for review, blog tour, etc) the consideration it deserved. However, by my second year it was quite obvious – not every story I wanted to seek out was going to be one I could soak into and enjoy. Therefore, I started to find it easier to DNF the stories which simpy weren’t my cuppa tea. I also have a healthy notation section on my blog called: Fly in the Ointment, which is where I out the reasons why a story isn’t settling well with me and/or notes of critque on the content of the novel which either was something I wasn’t comfortable with as a reader and/or it was something that just didn’t work for me (ie. plot, character, pacing, etc).
    I did develop a system for myself years ago – within the first twenty-five pages, I generally know how the rest of the story will go for me. I’ve since taken that concept and developed a feature on my blog called my #25PagePreview. In more recent years, that has become a way for me to do a mini-review for novels I cannot read in full (ie. on deadline for blog tours or otherwise) whilst originally it was meant to ‘preview’ the books I wanted to read through the library which I might not be able to read within the confines of the borrowing times.
    Sometimes I find myself writing a regular review for DNFs and other times, I might spotlight the book instead but always disclose my feelings on the book itself to have transparency with my readers but also to talk about what didn’t work for me as again, we can’t all love the same book all the time. Plus, sometimes I’ve found the best books by reading critical negative/neutral reviews by fellow book bloggers and/or DNF features/reviews because it goes both ways; something someone else didn’t enjoy might be better suited for me and vice versa, of course! (big smiles)
    Good topic. It comes up every now and then in our community. I haven’t spoken about my own views about it in a long while. I am definitely a more vocal book blogger about the stories I’m reading – as I don’t rate the books (unless in a program that calls for it) but rather I blog in-depth about what I found in the story and how that story resonated with me as a reader. I do the same whenever a find a book I need to exit and becomes a DNF. Sometimes those DNF reviews are even longer than my regular reviews – as sometimes I exit a book after the opening bridge, past the mid-point or even towards the end… you never know how a story will affect you and I actively am honest about how stories affect me as a reader. Good or bad. I think it is a healthy way to blog as a book blogger.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve re-modified the #25PagePreview reviews though – so if you’re visiting with me, not all of those are DNF selections; some of those are stories I aim to finish reading as quick as I can OR the older posts might be a mixed bag of stories I’m thankful I could preview and will eventually read in full OR could be stories I felt were definitely a DNF. I do like using the feature to explore how within a short expanse of pages in a story, we can get to know a writer’s style, voice and to taste the essence of the story they’re building in such a way as to give us a strong impression of what we might expect to find next therein.

        Liked by 1 person

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