Let’s Chat // 5 Reasons Why I DNF Books

Hey everyone!

Should we DNF books? I feel like there is always discussion about this in the blogging community. We book bloggers have a responsibility to fulfill for our readers. We want to deliver honest reviews and recommendations. And if you receive ARCs, you might also have a responsibility to writers or publishers to review these books. There are always new books on the horizon, our TBRs are ever-growing, and we face the pressure of “how are we going to read it ALL?”

And to tell you the truth, not all books live up to my expectations, even books that already have great reviews on Goodreads and here on the blogosphere. Unfortunately… I don’t like all the books that I read. Sometimes I find myself flipping through the pages slowly, reading paragraphs over again or skimming through them because I can’t get into the story. I find myself not wanting to continue reading the book, always putting it off to read something else or do something else. However I am reluctant to DNF the book because…. well, I keep thinking that the book will prove me wrong, that it will suddenly be better, that I’ve read xx% already and might as well finish reading it.

However, there are too many books and not enough time to read them all. If that is the case, then why waste time on books that don’t make us excited about reading? DNF-ing books that don’t impress us sounds like a great idea to optimize the precious time that we have, to make time for the books that we will actually love.

To tell you guys the truth: I don’t DNF books often, but because of the reasons above, I wonder if I should have a lower DNF threshold. Here are some of the criteria that I will use to decide whether I should put down a book:

1: If I don’t find the characters likeable or relatable.

The characters are the number one thing that keep me reading. I love characters who are driven by a clear purpose, who have a distinct and consistent personality, who have strengths and flaws, who have pasts and wishes or dreams for the future. If I can’t relate to the characters or don’t care if they succeed, then I am going to DNF the book!

2: If there is offensive and/or triggering content.

Trigger warnings are a whole other can of worms that we can save for another day. Bottom line is, if there is anything that makes me uncomfortable in a bad way, then the book is going in the DNF pile. 

3: If the pacing is so slow that I get bored.

I love fiction with fast pacing that hooks me and gets me excited to read the next chapter. I am happy as long as there is something that keeps me intrigued- whether it is a character or a plot element, but if the plot is slow and nothing seems to be happening, then the book might be a DNF!

4: If I feel an impending reading slump.

As readers who all fear the dreaded reading slump, and it’s hard to determine what causes it. Sometimes my reading slumps are caused by things in my life- maybe something else grabs my attention or life just gets too busy. Other times, my reading slumps are caused by a book (or a string of books) that I don’t feel too passionate about. Rather than forcing myself to finish reading the book (which I actually often do), it makes more sense to set the book aside and save myself the slump.

5: If I… just don’t feel like continuing.

There are some books that for some reason, I just can’t get into. It could be the characters, plot, pacing, or the writing style. If I don’t feel interested enough to keep reading, or if I don’t feel motivated to read the book, then I wonder if I should put it down, at least for the time being.

Do you DNF books? Why or why not? If so, what are some reasons why you choose to DNF books?

44 thoughts on “Let’s Chat // 5 Reasons Why I DNF Books

  1. floatinggold says:

    SpongeBob made me Like this post.
    Personally, I can tell pretty early on if I will like the book, or not. Usually, when I hit a point in a book when I know I won’t like it, I try and give it a bit more time. But then, that’s it. It get just 1 second chance. If it falls short, I stop.
    I do finish some of the books that don’t interest me, but that is when I’m just killing time, and don’t have immediate access to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Haha! I’m glad, I am a Spongebob fan too 🙂
      I like the idea of giving a book just one second chance to redeem itself. Sometimes books that I don’t initially enjoy do surprise me. On the other hand I often fall into the trap of giving too many second chances haha. Maybe I will borrow your idea of just giving one second chance 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. meandinkblog says:

    I agree with all your points especially about the characters. I am actually really bad at DNF books– I’m like I spent money on this I have to finish it or the need to complete. It’s something I want to get better at– I was reading a book I had on my shelf for years fairly recently and it was such a struggle to finish– I definitely should have DNF– it wasn’t for me. So I am going to be more open to DNF books this year!! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Yup I hear you there! Books aren’t cheap, and if I spend money on a book, I’d probably want to finish it even if it is something I don’t initially like. For me, it helps that I borrow most books from the libraries so I don’t have to pay, however I am lucky in that I have a good library nearby 🙂
      I’ve also had experiences similarly to yours where it would me a long time to read a book that I didn’t like, that I realize later I should’ve DNF’d anyway! It is also my goal this year to be more open to DNFing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Teresa Beasley says:

    I give a book two tries and if I’m still bored with the plot and can’t relate to the characters then I put it a side and move on. Like you said we have a lot on our TBR’s and many ARC’s to get through to waste time on a book that can’t keep our interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Teresa 🙂
      I like the idea of giving a book two tries and I am curious about your process! Do you put down the book and come back to it again? Or do you give a book a “strike” each time you come across something you dislike in a book?
      Yes! Time is precious and we can’t be wasting time on books that we don’t enjoy 🙂

      Like

  4. Sieran Lane says:

    Haha I almost never DNF books. But I can tell you about the few I did DNF:

    Book A– it was so depressing and boring. So much death, sickness, aging, loss of love… Alas, this is a bestseller and highly recommended book too. I feel almost guilty for disliking it.

    Book B— the premise sounds so interesting, but the writing seems so long. Such thick paragraphs that don’t engage me. I’m a pretty patient reader, so this must be bad. I don’t really like the romance partners either. Not because they’re bad people, but because they’re just not my cup of tea. Alas, this was also a highly recommended book, from a Goodreads list. So disappointed because the blurb looked so promising.

    Book C– this was a collection of short stories. I read the first, which I liked for the most part. For the other short stories, they were menages and threesomes, and at that time, I wasn’t comfortable with that, haha. So I didn’t want to read them. Now that I’ve read a few threesome scenes in other novels, I don’t fear them anymore, and will get back to reading this book.

    Can’t think of any more DNFs right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hey Sieran!
      That’s awesome that you can remember your DNF’s in detail. I can definitely relate to some of your reasons for DNFing these books. I’ve come across books like Book A that you’ve mentioned that are just too depressing to read. I feel that these books make me feel gloomy and/or drain the energy out of me, and it’s not the reason why I read books in the first place haha 🙂
      I do get the sense that you are a patient reader, since I remember you mentioning that you like the middle section of books haha. I am a pretty impatient reader and I get very bored when there is too much description and when the paragraphs are too long, so I probably have a much lower threshold than you in this aspect 🙂
      It makes sense to DNF books that make you feel uncomfortable at the time, and I think it also makes sense to come back to it whenever you feel like!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    I’ve never really DNF-ed books, I always keep wondering ‘what if it gets better?’ and I just have to keep reading. But nine times out of then it never gets better and life is too short to read books we don’t enjoy right? 🙂
    There have been a few book I’ve put to one side just because I don’t feel like reading it (one of the downsides if being a mood reader I guess) but with those ones I always try and go back to them one day because I know they’re not necessarily bad books, just books I wasn’t in the mood for. I’d like to think if there was offensive content I’d DNF right away, but I’ve finished a book that had triggering content for me so that may be another victim of my ‘what if it gets better?’ mindset.
    Great post Sophie. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hey Beth!
      Oh I know what you mean! There is always that little voice saying “what if it gets better?” which is quite effective for persuading me to keep reading a book haha. This year I’m hoping to be more open to DNFing book, especially since as you mentioned, many times my opinion for the book doesn’t change for the better!
      I’ve also set aside books for coming back to later. You are right that sometimes there is nothing wrong with the book, it’s just that we’re not in the mood for it yet. I suppose these should be in a different category, as “DNF” sounds much more final 🙂
      Thank you Beth ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marie says:

    This is a great post, Sophie! I think I have gotten pretty lucky with my reads in the past few years, because I can’t recall DNF-ing a book? Yet if the characters would be too annoying or the book would just fail at captivating me, I would DNF, too. Especially if I hate the characters. a slow book, I think I can take it a bit better, because who knows when it might pick up, but the characters… I need to feel something for them in order to continue haha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Marie 🙂
      I do remember you mentioning in a post before that you tend to enjoy the books that you choose to read, in which case it makes sense that you don’t DNF books! I think that’s great and I need to perfect the art of choosing books that I like too 🙂
      Yes I totally agree that the characters are the most important deciding factor for me when it comes to whether to continue a book or not!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Cora 🙂
      Yes I know what you mean, it is the little voice that says “what if it gets better?” which is quite persuasive!
      I can’t think of books where the ending changed my mind drastically. Usually my rating would change by 1-star at the most (for example, 2 stars to 3 stars, or 3 stars to 4 stars). I am usually pretty reluctant to DNF books too but I am wondering if I should be more open to it for this reason 🙂

      Like

  7. Julianna @ Paper Blots says:

    I freaking loved that gif you put for the first reason! Anyways, I totally agree with this post, I will just put a book down if it has offensive or triggering content: however, sometimes I read ahead so that I can let others know of the content in the story! Also, I never thought of it in a way that reading slumps are caused by bad books: I’ve always pointed them to my busy life or bad habits! 💜 Loved this post

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you Juliana 🙂
      Yes, we should absolutely DNF books that are offensive or triggering, especially if it is in a way that is personal to us.
      I definitely agree that my busy life gets in the way of reading. When I am less stressed and busy, I have more time to read and I can get into the mood of reading. On the other hand, books do at least partially cause my reading slumps too. If I am in the middle of an uninteresting book that drags on and on, I won’t make time to read it haha 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Margaret @ Weird Zeal says:

    I feel like I’ve been DNFing more books recently to fend off a reading slump, and maybe I should feel guilty, but honestly it feels good to set aside the ones that don’t excite me to pick up ones I’m more eager for! I fully support DNFing for any of these reasons, even if it’s just feeling like the book isn’t doing it for you at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hey Margaret!
      I absolutely agree and relate to your comment! January has been a slow reading month for me as well, and right now I am deciding whether or not to DNF my current book. I don’t think DNFing is something we should feel guilty about (although I get it- I feel guilty too!) It is all right to set aside a book to make time for other books that we might enjoy more. After all, reading is meant to make us excited and happy, and if a book isn’t doing that, maybe we should switch to another one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Mel says:

    I agree with all of these reasons to DNF books! I’ve been finding that one of the biggest things that will get me to DNF lately is content that I find triggering, but fortunately other reviewers now often put trigger warnings in reviews, so I know which books to avoid.

    I’m such a huge mood reader that that ends up accounting for a lot of why I DNF a book. I might be in the mood for a book when I first start it, but if it’s different than expected, or I discover something I decide I’d rather be reading, I will DNF.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Mel 🙂
      I am absolutely with you. If there is a book with triggering content or scenes that make us uncomfortable, we should DNF it right away.
      I am also a mood reader, and my mood definitely affects how I choose a book and whether I choose to continue the book. Sometimes it isn’t necessarily a bad book, it’s just that I’m not in the right mood for it, in which case I try to come back later 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Never Not Reading says:

    I almost never dnf books, because there have been so many times where I ended up liking the book more in the last half, even loving it. Or possibly I enjoy the rest of the series more than book 2. Or something like that. They have to be REALLY dull for me to give up on them. I’m talking Charles Dickens I-don’t-know-who-the-heck-these-characters-are boring.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie Li says:

      That’s a good point that sometimes things get better in the second half of a book or series 🙂 Usually individual books don’t surprise me that much (maybe my rating would change from a 2-star midway to 3-star at the end, but usually not a drastic change.) However I’ve had series that impressed me towards the end in a surprising way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Norrie says:

    I think my main reason, looking back at all the books i DNFd recently was that the book was just boring and nothing seemed to happen. I don’t necessarily mind a slower pace, as long as something is still kinda happening 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      I absolutely agree Norrie! The feeling of “nothing happening” is definitely one of my top reasons for DNFing a book. Although I prefer fast-paced books, I find slower paced books okay as long as there is some element of tension and intrigue that keeps me reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Becky (Blogs of a Bookaholic) says:

    That sloth gif was so well placed, WOW. I felt like I wanted to nab his stapler!

    I don’t DNF books often, but offensive content is definitely one that makes me do it, particularly if it has offensive, dangerous or outright incorrect mental health rep. I’m always straight on my soapbox for that one! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Becky 🙂
      Yes offensive content is a definite DNF. I am glad to see more mental health representation in books in general these days, but you are absolutely correct that they should be portrayed in an accurate and nonjudgmental way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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