What Makes Me DNF a Book?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.

To begin, I think it is important to note that DNF stands for “did not finish”. In other words, what makes me put down a book and never want to pick it up again? This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, as I realize that my time is valuable and there are thousands of books I want to read, so why waste my time reading something I am not enjoying? However, I do think that this is easier said than done! I plan to write another post talking about why I continue reading books even when I should DNF them. I know many of us can relate to that!

There are also times where I will put down a book just because it is not the right time for me to read it. There is nothing inherently wrong with the book, and it may even become a favourite, but I am just not in the mood for it! I recently wrote a post talking about some of the books I want to try again some day. #moodreaderproblems

There are a whole host of reasons why I might DNF a book, but the major one is if I find it to be problematic in any way. I will not give a second thought to DNFing a book that is racist, sexist, transphobic, etc.

 Is there a specific trope you can’t stand?

love triangle crush GIF by Archie Comics

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a love triangle if it is done well; however, they are so often handled horribly. I struggle reading about love triangles where it is evident from the beginning who the main character is going to choose- it takes away all of the tension, mystery, and intrigue! I also dislike when one of the love interests is awful, while the other (who the protagonist will ultimately choose) is perfect in every way- it feels manipulative somehow!

My most disliked trope is any form of cheating in a relationship. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but I just cannot find it romantic. Once again, the current partner who is being cheated on is usually flawed, which is a way of justifying the cheating. This is so overdone and I find it frustrating! I 100% understand that relationships are complicated and not every situation is the same, but it is just not something I want to read about in a romance.

 A plot twist that will make you drop instantly?

Something I have noticed that is common in thrillers is the use of mental health as a plot twist. It makes me angry every single time I come across it. Unfortunately, the book is usually almost over by the time the twist is revealed! It is one of the main reasons why I am so picky about the thrillers that I read. I have been burned one too many times!

How many pages do you usually give a book to capture your attention?

read ray romano GIF by TV Land

Lisa @ Cold Brew Book Reviews on Instagram has come up with an interesting system that I am trying to put into practice. The idea is that once you have read 20% of a book, you evaluate whether or not it is currently a three star or higher. If it is not, then you DNF the book. She has even created a hashtag, which is #20percentthoughts. I think that this is so smart! Twenty percent is more than enough to know how you are feeling about a book and the writing style. I also love that this method encourages you to stop and reflect on what you are reading. I might starting sharing my 20% thoughts in future blog posts!

How many books do you give a series before deciding if it’s worth your time?

I have talked about this before, but I am terrible at finishing series to begin with! I usually give a series one book. If I don’t enjoy the first one, I will not continue on with the series. There are some series where people say you have to read a few before they get really good, but I don’t want to have to suffer through three or four books just to get to the goods ones.

That said, if I love the first book in a series and the second one is a disappointment, there is still a good chance that I will give the third book a try, especially if it is a trilogy. Serpent and Dove is a great example of this. I loved the first one, but Blood and Honey let me down; however, I will still read the third and final installment because I am curious enough to know how the story end.

Do you count books as read on Goodreads if you DNF them?

I personally do not. If I DNF a book at 20%, I do not think it is fair for me to review it. I just put it down, remove it from my TBR, and move on. It is rare for me to read more than half a book and then not finish it, but even then I don’t think I would review it. The only exception would be if it was extremely problematic and I thought it was important to inform other readers of the issues I had. If I am simply not enjoying it or it is not the book for me, I don’t count it as read or review it.

I would love to hear all your thoughts on DNFing books! Is it something you do? Why or why not?

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38 thoughts on “What Makes Me DNF a Book?

  1. This is always an interesting topic to discuss! I’m more likely to DNF a book because it’s not grabbing my attention, than because I find something about the story problematic. At least a story that’s bothering me is interesting. I like the 20% idea. I try to give a book closer to 30% before I give up but it depends how much I’m disliking it and if there seems to be hope it will get more interesting. I created a category in Goodreads for DNF books so I can keep track of which ones I gave up on. It’s counted as “read” but I don’t review a book I didn’t finish.

  2. I definitely DNF books and have no shame for doing it. A lot of the times when I DNF it’s because the format isn’t working for me. The first book I marked as DNF was Inamorata by Megan Chance and I DNF’ed it because of the format, the chapters kept switching character point of views and was very hard to follow. Another book I DNF’ed because it kept switching between places and was hard to follow. I always review books that I DNF so that people know why I DNF’ed and why the book didn’t work for me.

  3. I definitely DNF, sometimes even within a few pages! It’s usually the writing style that makes me DNF. The 20% system is interesting, I might start trying that! I’m the same about series – if I didn’t love the first book, I usually won’t continue – maybe if it was 3 stars, I might give it another chance, though.

  4. That 20% rule is interesting! I learned from a teacher in middle school to at least give a book chance up to page 30. If I still can’t do it, then I move on. I’ve always kept that idea close and usually I find myself reading past page 30 before I know it. But maybe doing 20% will help me avoid reading books that end up lower rated for me.
    Great discussion!

  5. I think I’ve actually never DNFed a book because I’m usually super selective when it comes to buying books and 2) I’m always too curious to know how a story ends. The 20% rule sounds interesting, but I personally need a bit more time to get into a book and know if I really like it. It might be worth a try though 🙂

  6. Ooh I really like that 20% idea! I usually give a book 25%/100 pages before I decide to DNF! But I only ‘evaluate’ my thougths if those 100 pages were dragging..
    But I guess if I forget to evaluate after 100 pages, it means I’m enjoying the book haha!
    I do not DNF books often, but sometimes I feel like I should, there is no reason to read books I’m not enjoying!


  7. Well…..so many thoughts! I’m finding it easier and easier to DNF a book! Usually it’s because I’m bored…..when I start having feelings of dread or avoid picking up the book then I know it’s time to DNF! I actually DNF a book at 60% once! In that case I did review it in good reads. Sometimes when I DNF I read the last chapter to either get closure or to see if something in the ending will motivate me to go back to finish the book. Usually if I feel I have to force myself to finish a book, it never ends up getting better. I’ve learned to trust my instinct to DNF. Things that have caused me to DNF are excessive profanity, child abuse, too agenda driven, too boring, too crass, too paranormal….. I’ve grown in my ability to not even start books with certain plots and to avoid certain genres. I think I’ve gotten pickier, but knowing what you like and don’t like helps create better reading experiences! Don’t fear DNFing! I’ve never regretted a DNF. Great discussion Kristin!

    1. Blogging has definitely helped me recognize the merit of DNFing! I have definitely done the thing where I have read the last chapter. I never want to feel like I am forcing myself to read- that is the number one way I fall into a reading slump!

      Blogging has also helped me discover what I like and what I don’t! That is something I should write about one of these days.

      Thanks for sharing all your thoughts with me, Carol. I love hearing everyone’s perspectives on this!

  8. I long ago gave myself permission to not finish a book. At first, I would only stop if I thought the writing was bad. But there are a few books that are highly acclaimed that I decided not to finish. They just weren’t my thing. Nothing against the authors.

    The older I get, the more I appreciate anyone willing to take on the the task of writing a book. At the same time, I’m keenly aware that my remaining hours to read are numbered. So, if a book doesn’t speak to me by 150 pages in, I move on.

    When it comes to series, if the first book doesn’t grab me, I’m definitely done. There are many series, however, that I haven’t finished, even though all the volumes I’d read were enjoyable. In general, I’m looking for new experiences when I read. So, even if I love an author or several books in a series, I may not continue reading them.

    Usually, if I don’t finish a book, I don’t mark it finished in Goodreads. However, sometimes I really want to leave a comment about why I didn’t appreciate the book enough to finish. In this case, I always explain at what point I gave up and why.

    1. What I love about books and reading is knowing that even if a book doesn’t work for me, it will work for someone. I love how everyone has different tastes in books.

      I love what you said about looking for new experiences when you read. That may be part of the reason why I’m so terrible at finishing series!

      1. So true that taste is an important factor. When I read a review on Goodreads, the taste of the reviewer is as important as the critique. What he/she loves might not be what I’m after and vice versa. I often check out what else they’ve read to see if I can find evidence of common ground.

        Thanks for posing the questions in your piece. Now, that I think about it, I can only recall a few series that I’ve finished and they were 3/4 books spread over years. One exception, graphic novels. There have been a few series in that genre that I loved and waited for each new edition.

        Again, thanks for having me think about why I do the things I do. 😀

  9. I actually made a DNF list on Goodreads so I could keep all the books I quit reading there. I made it into a category that is exclusive, so it doesn’t show up on my read or tbr list as well.

  10. Oh I like this discussion post series. I might join in too.

    I’m the same about love triangles. They often put me off a story. I do tend to encounter them more in YA books than adult ones, but I’ve read so many YA books that have them that I really can’t stand them now.
    I sometimes rate the books I DNF on Goodreads. I do so if I’ve read enough of the book to form a strong opinion about it, but I always mention early on in my review that I DNF’d it and try to mention where I stopped reading.

  11. Very interesting topic. Just started reading again so far I have #DFN about 3 books. I agree with your theory if the book doesn’t catch my attention 20% in I put it down and I remove it from my Kindle.

  12. So personally I have never DNF a Book, because somewhere inside me I feel like I am being unfair to the book, but I really like your point about stopping at about 20% of the book, which makes you re-evaluate the kind of books you are reading. I think it will definitely be something I will be trying to implement moving forward!

  13. I like the 20% idea. I am DNFing more than I did before but, normally, I cling on until the halfway mark before deciding whether or not I should DNF. 20% sounds much more sensible!

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