IMO: When To DNF

Posted on 01/29/2013 in Discussion / 34 Comments

Format: select

Two years ago, I was adamant that I finish every book I read.  That’s why I used read: to learn the ending of the story.  I typically enjoyed the books I was reading, but at the same time, I don’t think I knew any better.  That’s not to say I couldn’t tell a good book from a bad book, but I know now that my tastes were less discerning.

The other day, I DNF’d a book, for the second time ever.  For the record, it was Wasteland by Susan Kim and this is not going to be a review or DNF report about why I didn’t finish it.  But let’s just say, I wasn’t enjoying it.  The synopsis itself struck me as strange and maybe too weird for me, but I decided to take a chance on it anyway, because you never know where you might find your next favorite book.

I feel especially guilty marking ARCs as DNF.  There’s a certain obligation to the publisher to give an honest review of a book, and how can you do that if you do not finish it?  It’s something I struggled with while deciding if I wanted to keep reading Wasteland.  Should I continue because I feel like I owe the publisher a review for giving this book to me for free?

296490_464319116922067_1857195089_nThe answer I came to was, no.  In fact, I’m doing the publisher just as much a service by marking it as Did Not Finish and explaining why I was unable to complete the story.  The bottom line is, I read for fun and nothing else, so if I’m not enjoying the story even a little bit, even enough to mark it one star, I shouldn’t be reading it.  The publisher deserves to know why I didn’t finish it and that’s all.   Not every book is for every person and I need to remember that this is okay.

The final thought that made me decide to DNF Wasteland wasn’t even that I wasn’t enjoying it.  I thought of all the other books I could be enjoying and that potential was enough to push me over the edge and put it down.  It’s better for me, publishers and authors to spend my time on books I’m going to enjoy, rather than books I already know I’m disliking.

So tell me, do you DNF?

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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.


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34 responses to “IMO: When To DNF

  1. aurian

    Yes, I do  DNF books. Sometimes I know it is my mood that makes me not like the book enough, and in that case I try to read it again a few months later. But sometimes I just dislike something so much, that I don’t want to read it anymore. But it is one of the reasons why I stopped with review requests very fast, I don’t like to feel pressured to read a specific book by a specific date. And as it is my own book I DNF, I don’t have to feel guilty about it either, only annoyed that I spend my money on it. Still, you cannot love every book.

  2. I didn’t used to DNF either, but I just don’t have the patience for it any more. Most of the books I finish get at least 3 stars, because I usually quit reading them before the end if they’re less (although it does happen now and again). I think it’s important to not let it bother you, you can’t like every book. Maybe someone else will love the books that you don’t finish, but you shouldn’t feel bad that you don’t 🙂 I think your time and energy are better put to use reading the books you really enjoy!

  3. I have DNF’d in the past. I try not to review it unless I have read more than 50% and then gave up.\nLife is just too short to finish every single book, especially if you are not enjoying it. A bad book can also put me in a reading slump, so then I am missing out on other great books.

  4. Sophia Rose

    I’ve only done it once though there are several that I set aside for a time until I’m in the mood for them.  I still feel guilty over that one.  I don’t post any blog reviews of any less than three stars.  Truthfully, I rarely give less than three stars because I’m not adventurous with choosing my books.\n\nThanks for the discussing topic and your thoughts.

  5. Julie Kornhausl

    When I reviewed for the first time, many years ago, I was rather honest about my opinion of the books that I had to read and review. There were a few times that I hated the book so much that I just couldn’t write a review. It wasn’t fair to the author and it wasn’t fair to those readers who did like the book.  I feel like we’re all in this together, we all love what we do and I don’t think anybody wants to personally trash a book or an author, so the best thing is just to move on with another book.Just simply write a short note to the company who gave you the book apologizing for not being able to review their book, maybe even mentioning they give that copy to a different review,

  6. I’ve DNFd a few books recently, but I don’t review them (just because that’s what worked for me!) I’m with you. Pre-blogging, I ALWAYS finished books. But. I, too, was a far less discriminating reader. Now… I know I’m a lot less kind with the books I read, and less patient, but… I also love the books I DO love, PASSIONATELY. And… Yes. I’m still coming to terms with it, but it IS ok not to love a book! *nods*\n<3

  7. AH

    I always try to give a book at least 100 pages. If, by that point, I can’t finish the book I try to jot down a short reason for why the book wasn’t for me. There have been books that have taken that 100 pages to get interesting and I’m glad that I stuck with them.

    • @AH That can be the hard part – figuring out when to give up! There’s always that “What if it gets good on the next page?” question. I suppose a quick skim through the rest can give you a clue… That’s a good policy to have a set number of pages to give it.

      • Deb E It’s definitely hard to figure out when to give up.  Sometimes it’s 25%, sometimes 50%.  I’m reading a book right now that I still haven’t figure out the point of, and it’s frustrating the HELL out of me.  I’m ready to quit.

  8. Jenny

    I’m learning to be okay with having to DNF a book. I used to feel like I had to finish every book I started, but my TBR is epic and my time is valuable to me, so I don’t want to spend it reading something I don’t like. I’m not a blogger, but I do review on Goodreads. When I DNF a book, I don’t give it a rating but I do usually put a few lines on why the book wasn’t working for me.

  9. thegeekyblogger

    I am learning to be ok with not finishing a book.  Since I am such a mood reader, I have decided that if it doesn’t fit my mood then I can put it aside and come back to it at a later date.  There are a few books that I have decided I wouldn’t give another whirl and passed them on to friends.  I figure I have stacks upon stacks of books—I need to pay attention to the ones that grab me 🙂

  10. Like you, I felt guilty when I DNF a book.  I’ve recently realized that those I made my self continue reading were ones that I didn’t enjoy and had the most negative reviews for.  Forcing myself to enjoy the book turned out to make me dislike it even more.  So, while I try to finish most books I come across, if I can’t finish them, I say so.  And then EXPLAIN why.  I think the explanation is a key point; you can’t just say to a publisher I couldn’t finish it, you need to explain clearly why.  And if given enough distance and a change of mood, I have been known to go back later and try to read the DNF’d book.  Don’t think because you DNF’d it, you can’t go back and try again.

  11. Yes, I DNF now, because now I understand that I can’t like every book I read, so why would I force myself reading a book I dislike when there are so much books out there? Sometimes I give them a second try, but most of the time I just leave them.\n<a href=””>Mel@thedailyprophecy.</a>

  12. Absolutely. I just DNF a book I was on a blog tour for too. I just politely asked to be removed from the tour. Publishers know you can’t possibly love every book you read, though there are some people that do seem to love everything. I envy their bliss! But I’m picky and that’s okay. \nI used to feel bad about DNF review copies, but I don’t anymore. I have too many other books to read and pubs know reviewers get tons of books every month. It’s impossible to read them all, let alone review them. Let’s be real: No one is paying us. The Big Six does not send me a check, so I don’t feel obligated to the point where I’m going, “I NEED TO FINISH THIS OR ELSE!” Pubs send you galleys knowing you may never review it, but they are *hoping* you will and in turn tell all your friends and readers. \nNow, for galleys that I have requested, sometimes I feel bad, but I can’t love everything. If I continue to read it, I’ll just be one angry person when I review it. Not good.

    • Stephanie Sinclair So I guess I’ve DNF’d three total, because there is one I forgot about that had HORRIBLE writing.  Also for a blog tour.  I had to tell the tour host I wasn’t enjoying it and ask to host an excerpt instead.  Not my shiniest moment.\n\nBut I agree.  This is done out of love and completely free.  I wish there was a way to find out how much bloggers really drive sales.

  13. I have recently begun to DNF books. For years I was always afraid I’d miss something on the next page. Now my pile is so huge, if I am not feeling it, it’s gone. Since I fully realize this could be in direct correlation to my mood..i do not  rate them etc, and I am honest with publisher as to my current thoughts. Thankfully since I am older, wiser and my brain has absorbed so much coffee it now has super powers I am very good at knowing what books I will like and do not face this situation often.

    • kimbacaffeinated I won’t rate DNFs either.  I didn’t finish it, it’s not going to get a rating from me.  But I will still review why I didn’t finish it.  In the case of Wasteland, I put on GR and Edelweiss why I didn’t finish it and left it at that.

  14. One of my goals this year is to be okay with DNFing a book. I do give it my best shot to finish a book but if it’s making me unhappy to keep reading it’s just best to put it down and read something that will not anger me.\nI read for fun, and so if that element is gone… why bother?

  15. Vicky Hooper

    I’m trying to get better at doing this. And saying no to review copies as well! I feel bad doing it, but as you say, we read for fun! And there are always other books I want to be reading, so if I don’t really want to read a review copy, then it’s totally okay to say no.

    • Vicky Hooper Saying no to review copies is hard.  Especially as your blog grows and you get more requests from indie authors AND publishers.  I have in my policy that I only answer requests I’m going to accept, but to be honest, I will certainly write back the rep at Harper Collins and let them know “no thank you” and why, because I want to keep that relationship good (and professional).  That was a bit off-topic, but I’m learning to say no, too. 🙂  Edelweiss and NG are my enemy!

  16. PrettyInFiction

    This is really interesting because I feel pretty much the same way. If I can’t finish a book because its just not for me than I’m wasting my time and the publishers time because I could be dealing another of their books that I do enjoy. And I could also be passing on the ARC (if its a physical ARC) to people who will read, enjoy, and review it.

  17. athousand_lives

    Hell yes, I DNF. I consider myself to have pretty big patience when it comes to reading. As long as there as there is an inkling, a tiny little speck of interest in the outcome of the book, I will finish that sucker. But seriously, sometimes, I can only tolerate so much. I owe nobody nothing.

  18. TiDubb

    I still struggle with DNF-meaning I hate to do it but I have and will if I can’t get into the book.  I am honest about my reading habits.  Sometimes I can get a bit schizophrenic meaning I can pick up 3 different books and just can’t get into them.  I stop reading them and move on to the fourth until I can return.  Some I haven’t returned to in years.  I usually will give in to DNF when I am 50% into the book and I just can’t get into it or  I might opt to skipping—which to me is just as bad ( I hate haveing to skip).

    • TiDubb When I start getting antsy in my reading and read multiple books at the same time, I know the books have issues….or maybe I have issues.  It could be my mood, too.  I’m a mood-reader, so I try to also recognize that maybe I’m just not in the mood for a particular genre.  Reading slumps happen, too.  When I hit those, I play video games LOL.\nIf I come back to a book and I still don’t like it….well.  DNF I guess.  Doesn’t happen often.

  19. I also struggle with deciding to DNF. But, our time is short, and our time is precious. As a soon-to-be-published (like, TOMORROW!) author, I especially like supporting other new authors. But I am learning at just because I get on with someone via Twitter, FB, or blog commenting, doesn’t mean I will like their book. And I don’t expect them to like mine. For one thing, everyone has different tastes. For another, everyone has something they hope to get out of a story when they pick it up. My hope is to be drawn in and not let go until the last page. That’s pretty rare, but it’s what I’m looking for. I can make it through a book that only has moments of drawing me in, as long as the rest is passable. But it won’t get getting 5-stars, I can tell you now!\nAnd these days, reading is kind of work, too… so I look for the kind of writing I hope to learn from. If a story doesn’t grip me quickly and the writing is average, then, no… I just don’t have the time anymore.

  20. veela_valoom

    I struggle to DNF. THey are rare and far between.  I don’t let to want the bad books win. I’m doing neither me or a book a service that way but it’s so hard to quit.  There are only 3 books on my DNF shelf. I really need to DNF more.

  21. ReadingbyKF

    I’m still at that stage where I try to finish everything I read. But I know what you mean. There’re just not enough time to read books you don’t enjoy, which is why it sometimes takes me a while to decide on what I read. I’ve also really really cut down on requesting books via NetGalley just because I want be more picky about what I want to read and have less pressure to read a book for the sake of reviewing it.

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