Hey everyone, it’s Sabrina! In today’s post, I want to tell you everything I think about DNFing books, especially when it comes to why and when to do it. I know it’s not the most original of posts, but I do think everyone is different when it comes to their decisions around DNFs, so I wanted to share mine (and hopefully hear about yours in the comments)! Let’s get into it 🙂
First of all, in case you don’t know, DNF stands for “did not finish”. For me, I use this term no matter what stage of the book I got to before deciding I didn’t want to read it anymore – whether it was the first few pages or 75% in. Another term I use is “on hold”, which is for books I have put down for now but truly want to get back to at some stage of my life. (Have I ever actually gone back to the books I’ve put on hold? Yes, but admittedly not as often as I’d like.) Finally, I also talk about “enjoying” books. In this post, when I say I wasn’t enjoying a book, it means I wasn’t getting anything out of it – I wasn’t having fun and I wasn’t learning anything.
I also want to add one disclaimer to this discussion: I am writing this post from my own experience, which is that of someone who almost exclusively reads books from the library rather than purchasing them herself or requesting/receiving ARCs. As such, there is no one monetarily or otherwise invested in me finishing the books I start. I do think there is a time to DNF ARCs, but I am not talking about that today because I don’t have any experience with it.
Since I started recording my reading in 2012:
🌿 I have DNFed 51 books
🌿 27 (53%) of those were after 2017
🌿 13 (25%) were this year alone
So, as you can probably tell by those numbers, I have become a lot better at putting books down that I am not fully enjoying over the years. Sometimes I still struggle with the decision, because there are a lot of things to weigh up, but I guess what I always come back to is the fact that I am never going to have time to read every book that I want to, so there is very little purpose in continuing with one that I’m not enjoying or don’t see myself starting to enjoy.
There’s several reasons why I might DNF a book – here’s a list of just a few:
🌿 I’m not liking the writing style
🌿 I’m feeling bored
🌿 The main character is annoying me too much
🌿 I’ve predicted a future plot twist or two
🌿 There is a dog that I’m worried for that keeps getting put in danger
Some of the reasons hold a greater weight than others. For example, the writing style of a book is unlikely to drastically change over the course of the story, but the main character being annoying at the start could lead to some great development later on. This also impacts when I decide to put down a book because I will often know within the first couple of chapters if the writing style isn’t going to work for me.
When it comes to feeling bored, these are cases where I might choose to skim through a book or read a few pages near the end to see how things progress instead of immediately DNFing. One strategy I tend to use a lot is skimming a book I’m bored by until I get to an exciting part, like an action scene or something with tension between the characters, and I will read that scene. Sometimes I’ll then keep reading normally without realising and in this case, I won’t DNF the book at all. Sometimes it’s not enough for me to become entertained again, and I will put the book down.
As for predicting the plot twists, there usually has to be some other glaring issues for this to be enough for me to DNF. Even then, I will often check the end of the book to see if I was right, and if I wasn’t, I’ll keep reading.
There are also outside forces that can either increase or decrease the chance of me putting a book down when they’re occurring simultaneously with one or more of the reasons I’ve listed above. These are:
🌿 If I’m feeling in the mood for the genre
🌿 If the book is due back at the library soon
🌿 If I’m planning a blog post that involves the book
🌿 If I have other books out from the library that I want to read more
🌿 If the book is popular
🌿 If the book is particularly long or particularly short
🌿 If I haven’t read many books that month
When I’m reading a popular book, I usually stick with it for longer because I feel as though there must be a good reason that everyone loves it. When a book is particularly short, I am more likely to see it through, because I don’t have to invest as much time in it. When a book is particularly long I am more likely to DNF it when I’m in the first quarter and less likely to DNF it if I’ve made it past the halfway mark – again, because of the time investment. And, as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I just want to be able to say I’ve read a certain amount of books in a month – for example, if it’s nearing the end of a month and I’ve so far read nine books, I will stick with a book I’m not enjoying just so that I can have read an even ten books.
One other impact that is harder to explain properly is sometimes if I have been reading a little bit of a single book every few days for over a week, I start to get tired of looking at it and DNF it so that I can feel a weight off my shoulders. This only happens with books that are no longer in the running for making a 4 star rating from me, (which is honestly a pretty high bar). Sometimes, it can feel like a book is dragging me down and holding me back so that DNF can be really important in jumpstarting my reading again.
RATING AND REVIEWING
To put it simply: I don’t rate books that I DNF. Usually, I feel as though I haven’t read enough of the book to know what my rating would have been if I’d continued to the end – and hopefully you can see by my list of reasons and impacts on DNFing why that’s possible, particularly because a lot of them are so personal and not a reflection on the quality of the book at all.
Reviewing, or otherwise talking about the book, is a different story, because I can clearly explain what was working for me, what wasn’t, and the exact reasons why I decided to put the book down and move on to something else.
And that’s it! All my thoughts on the process of DNFing a book!
What do you think?
Do you DNF? What are some of your reasons for doing so – or not doing so? Do you rate and review books you don’t finish?