Reader/Writer Confessions: DNF’ing Books

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Here is the question I am posing to you today: If a book is bad, do you stop reading it? Or push on?

I fall in this weird place in between, where I am so determined to finish books that I’ve started, and yet, the book is truly horrendously bad, I just cannot push on and finish it. And then there’s also the question — should you review books you’ve DNF’ed? And also: How far into a book do you stop reading? Halfway? Two chapter in? Questions, questions!

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Take the book Red Rising for example. I got 32 pages into it, and I put it down. I have not DNF’ed it, simply because I know that I will get back to it later. When I started reading it, I just wasn’t in the mood; there was no point continuing it because I knew I was not going to enjoy the novel, which defeats the purpose of reading in the first place.

Persevering through a bad or “meh” book:

  • Let’s not forget that there is always a chance that the book will get better. Some books might just be slow in the beginning, and will pick up as you get further into the story.
  • Weirdly so, I find that there’s a sense of “pride” in finishing a book I’ve been struggling to read. Because of my determination, I kind of feel like it’s a win.
  • I’d feel okay to review the book fully, knowing that I’ve given it a full chance.

Giving up, submitting to defeat, and DNF’ing a book:

  • There will always be that “what if it got better?” question hovering in the back of my mind.
  • I’d be really unsure about reviewing it — can you really review a book you haven’t read fully? Would people judge me for that?
  • I’d have more time to read other books. I mean, why bother continuing a book you’re not enjoying? Life is too short!

Books I’ve DNF’ed this year:

  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon — I DNF’ED this because a) mixed genres aren’t my thing, and b) It was boring, confusing, and didn’t make all that much sense.
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson — I stopped reading this one when the main character practically said she wished she had cancer. Um, no thanks.

Let me know: Do you DNF books, or do you push through them?

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18 thoughts on “Reader/Writer Confessions: DNF’ing Books

  1. I am a HUGE DNF’er. I feel so bad for saying this, but sometimes I simply cannot continue with the book. I’ve DNF’ed wayyy too many books this year… About 5 at least, I’m pretty sure. 50% because the main characters are so ridiculous and I hate them and 50% because I lost interest (therefore it’s more of a on hold rather than DNF but they’re both the same shelf of GR). Although I have to admit sometimes just because I can’t wait to write a scathing review (I’m horrible, I know) warning my readers away from such a horrendous book. Generally, if I DNF around 40% and have enough to write a decent review, then I’ll review a DNF book and I will clearly state that it’s DNF, otherwise I won’t even bother. I’ll probably write something short on GR though.

    I don’t know. I hate DNF’ing but I do it all the time. I’ll probably get back to half the books I DNF throughout the years, but I just hate staying with a book that I know I”m not going to like. I’d rather just not waste my time. I could be reading a different book after all.

    This comment makes me feel so callous!! I’m sorry hahaha

    • This will sound really bad, but I think it can actually be kind of… therapeutic writing scathing reviews. I personally find it so frustrating when I read a book, that when I write all my thoughts down, my head becomes just that much lighter. :) I hate to DNF books, too, so I do it rarely… but sometimes it just can’t be helped in my opinion.

  2. I don’t DNF books – like you said, it kind of feels like an accomplishment when I finish a book I wasn’t liking! I’m just too stubborn, I guess :) And I tend to be pretty good at choosing books I will like, which means I hardly ever give out 2 or 1 star ratings. But I can see why people do DNF books, because there are SO many other better ones out there that they could be reading!!

    • Maybe because I’m such a harsh reviewer, or I just have too high expectations, but I generally find that I’m the opposite of you — I’m crappy at choosing books I like! Which means that I often give out one or two stars, and rarely five stars. :P

  3. If I have to review a book for a publisher, I will read it all the way to the end, just because I feel like I can’t review something I haven’t read the ending of. I’m a very picky reader and fortunately a lot of my reads of been 3 star plus, but mainly 4 or 5 stars. I like to try and read to the end. There is only two book I have DNF, one was because it was one of the worst books I have read and part of something like a 14 part series and I didn’t want to invest that much time into it, and the other was self published I won that was in a severe need on an editor.
    Though my reading pile is growing so high now that maybe I will have to DNF books that aren’t up for review if they are truly horrible (but I’m hoping I don’t come across any.)

    • That’s a good point — if it’s a review book from a publisher, then I will make my best effort to finish it completely, because, like you said, I wouldn’t feel like I’d be able to review it properly. I’m more likely to DNF books I’ve bought, as I always think, “Oh, I’ll just read it another time,” and generally never get around to reading it.

  4. I push through. I’ve got two books sitting on my “official” currently reading, one of which has not been touched for two years LOL But I fully intend on reading them. I refuse to give up. I don’t know why…but it definitely does feel like an accomplishment. Actually, if anything, I feel as though I’ve invested time into them already and if I already wasted a bit of it, I might as well just see it through until the end, you know? Then I’ve got the bunch of books that I read, kind of gave up of FOR NOW but just never marked as currently reading (so it seems as though I always see things through but…yeah) I have DNF one book though and that was Under the Never Sky, just because I listened to it as an audiobook narrated by an OLD LADY who tried to do this sexy male voice that turned me off completely. Book and audiobooks in general. Yeah. Not a good experience…Fantastic discussion topic, Kara! :D

  5. I don’t typically DNF books unless I just can’t go on or really hate it. I feel like I can only write a proper review if I’ve read a fair amount. I think writing something is fine as long as you make it clear you didn’t finish the book.

  6. I AM SAD BECAUSE RED RISING IS MY FAVOURITE. So of course I tremendously recommend you keep going…but at the same time I totally hear you. Gah. Usually I don’t DNF because a) I have a good habit of picking up books I’m mostly interested in, and b) the OCD in my screams to finish things. But…that saying, I totally DNF’d a book yesterday. *sigh* I thought it was YA but it was actually adult and it was just not for me. Besides it was by the POV of a real sicko and I just, I had no time for that. But I still feel bad and awkward for DNF’ing it. :|

    • I will keep going with Red Rising, I promise! I just… wasn’t in the mood for that sort of book. I wish I had that habit of picking up books I know I’ll like! But with me and books, I’ll literally pick up anything YA so it’s not that surprising that I don’t like EVERYTHING I read. That’s interesting — I wouldn’t say I am OCD, exactly, but I do have slight anxiety sort of tenancies when it comes to books. Not only in wanting to finish them, but creases/cracked spines, ect.

  7. I have a problem where I just can’t DNF! I will read a terrible book, or even finish out a terrible series, just to finish it, because I can’t leave it unfinished! Then I get the pleasure of writing a scathing review. I enjoy that part way too much!

  8. Well nuts, Red Rising is my next to read book :P But yes, I do DNF books if they’re not holding my interest. I read over 100 books a year and I don’t have time to waste on books that just aren’t wowing me.

    As for reviewing them-I no longer write traditional reviews and instead I do brief highlights of each book I read. So if I do DNF a book I do blog about it briefly, and just include a couple of thoughts on why I put it down (don’t spend a lot of time on these books though-maybe two sentences and then I move on).

  9. I never, ever used to DNF books. If I started it, I finished it. Even if it took me a year. However, since starting to blog, my TBR has grown insanely, so I’ve started to DNF books. However, I still struggle with deciding whether or not to DNF a book.

    The books I’ve DNF-ed this year (and, consequentially, my whole life), are:
    Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer
    The Poor Man’s Guide to Suicide by Andrew Armacost
    Mafia Girl by Deborah Blumenthal
    Tease by Amanda Maciel

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