Let’s Talk: DNFing Books

How frequently do you mark a book as DNF, or did not finish? My opinion on DNFing books has evolved over time, and in light of the fact that I’ve been DNFing a lot of books lately, it’s a topic I’d like to revisit.

I’ve never been strongly against DNFing books, but it wasn’t something I did very often growing up and through college. I just figured if I started something, I should finish it. But about a year ago, I decided there were too many books out there that I want to read to bother finishing books I don’t like. As a result, I’ve been DNFing a lot more books. Not a ton! But I’m up to nine so far this year, which is more than last year.

I typically try to give a book 100 pages or about 20 percent before I consider DNFing it. It’s typically more than not enjoying a book, though; I have to dislike something about it that I don’t think is going to change over the next 200 pages or so.

Once I get that far and I’m disliking something about it enough to consider DNFing it, I’ll look up reviews to see what other people thought of it. If some of the low-rated reviews list the same problems I’ve identified but they read the whole thing and still didn’t like it, then I’ll go ahead and DNF the book. Conversely, if someone loved the book and never identified some of the same issues as me, there’s a good chance I won’t love the book as much as the reviewer.

Another factor to help me determine whether to DNF a book is to look up spoilers or flip ahead through the book. If the events later in the book aren’t something I care about, then that’s another good reason for me to DNF a book.

I’ve noticed, though, that once I’ve started considering whether to DNF a book, it’s usually too late for the book to pull me back in.

Of course, my concern when I DNF a book is that I might actually wind up enjoying it if I read the entire thing. That’s generally the fear, isn’t it? And it’s definitely a reasonable one.

Rationally, though, I don’t think the odds of that happening are very high. I haven’t gone back lately and tried reading a book I previously DNFed, so it’s difficult to say if that’s the case, but I can’t think of any books that I have finished where I strongly disliked the beginning or wasn’t pulled in enough to keep reading and then wound up loving.

I think another important consideration, especially as a blogger, is that I can’t offer a thorough review of a book without having read the entire thing. But I personally think there’s still something to offer if I explain why I’ve chosen to DNF a book and why others who encounter the same things might want to as well.

I will note, though, that I think there’s a balance to DNFing, which is what has gotten me thinking about this more lately. Since determining that I want to shrink my physical TBR shelf, I’ve become very motivated to read my own books and potentially even go down to a zero TBR. So motivated that I’m finding myself much quicker to DNF books that I typically have been. And I’m wondering if that’s a problem.

In the last month, I’ve DNFed two books that I might have pushed through and finished if it weren’t for my desire to get books off my physical TBR as quickly as possible. I’m very cautious of being too quick to DNF a book, but at the same time, this experience has caused me to reflect more on the books I’ve read in recent months and realize that I’ve pushed through a lot of books that I ultimately didn’t enjoy or gain much from. So I should potentially be DNFing more than I have been.

So while I do think I should stop and question why exactly I’m DNFing a book and ensure that it’s not solely to get another book off my TBR, I think this experience has been a good reminder to objectively weigh why I’m reading books I don’t like and determine whether or not it’s worth finishing them.

Alright, enough of my ramblings. It’s your turn! Do you DNF books? Why or why not? Would you argue that I should cut back on the number of books I DNF or potentially increase it? Let me know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: DNFing Books

  1. I quite often don’t finish books. Sometimes it’s a case of putting it down at one point and then having no desire to pick it back up. I’m totally happy with that. The story just hasn’t grabbed me. Occasionally I’ve given the book another go and made it through. I’ve never loved a book in that category and usually it hasn’t really been worth the effort but it satisfies the wonder of what happened in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, I very rarely put a book down because I’m bored with it. I mean, I’ll pick up another book for a while, but I’ll circle back to the original book within a week and wouldn’t considered it DNFed at any point.
      And I’m totally with you on needing the satisfaction of knowing how a book ends, though I have no qualms about just flipping to the end and moving on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was a kid, it was VERY important to me to finish a book once I started reading it. I’m guessing this was due to a school mindset. Now, I’ve learned that some books are just not worth my time… for whatever reason. I don’t have to read EVERY book. I find this new mindset to freeing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe next time you think about DNFing a book, you can hide it someplace in your home and forget about it. And then a few months later you can come back to it and see if you regret DNFing it or not


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