To DNF or Not to DNF?

We have all encountered and maybe even struggled with the question

Should I keep reading this book?

You know you ask it, ponder it even, when you’re bored out of your mind or not connecting with it or any other host of reasons. Some of you, many of you, may force yourself to continuing reading until you reach that, it didn’t come soon enough, last sentence. And others of you put down the book to only feel guilty for not continuing on and finishing.

I’m reading a book now and about halfway through, I hopped aboard the struggle bus. I don’t know what happened. All of sudden it tanked and I find myself reading words but not taking any of it in. So, my dilemma do I press on or DNF?

Only recently, within the last couple of years, have I given myself permission to not finish reading a book without feeling guilty. Before I get to why let me give you a little background about me.

I grew up reading. I loved reading. I would devour several books a week when I was growing up. Reading was and still is an escape. Then one day I went to college and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I decided to major in what I loved to do.

Literature.

Not exactly a bad idea, but not the best idea either. Depending on the class I could be reading a book a week and if I was fortunate enough to work my classes just right some of the books would overlap. And on top of that most of the literature read was written by dead European white men. I have to admit whenever I looked at a syllabus, I hoped longed for some literature by a person of color. I wanted needed to read something by people who had different experiences, but sadly those authors weren’t part of my major’s curriculum.

Anyway, I digress. Having had these dead European white men forced upon me, I got bored and sadly not finishing a book was not an option. I had one professor who I swear closed her eyes, opened the book, pointed, and whatever sentence her finger landed on found itself on our weekly quizzes. WTF! (Needless to say, I failed all of them).

And as a result of the above the enjoyment of reading was sucked out of me. Only recently have I started to enjoy reading again. And part of that is because I have given myself permission to DNF without feeling guilty. I have come to the realization that there is nothing wrong with saying,

F*** it!

So, why DNF?
  1. Boredom. It seems pretty obvious to not keep reading if you’re bored, right? I mean why put yourself through that torture of plodding through something you’re not interested in. Sometimes we continue with the hopes of it getting better, but deep down we know it’s a train wreck.
  2. Characters and/or Plot. I like a well-balanced character/plot driven book. Sometimes I can get through if one or the other is lacking, but definitely not both. I also have to connect with either the plot or a character. There have been times when I thought the plot was good but there was a god awful character that I wished the author had either never created or killed off because he/she is doing nothing to help move the plot forward. And as a result it becomes a DNF.
  3. Squirrel Moments. This is when you’re reading a book and then a newer more shiny one comes along, so you put the first book down to read the new one.
  4. Mood. I’m a huge mood reader and between this on and Squirrel Moments I have more unintentional DNFs on my shelf.
  5. Moral/Ethical. This one is kind of up in the air on whether or not to DNF. There have been times when I didn’t agree with an author because our values didn’t match up. I typically keep reading because I look at it as a learning experience. You know, not everyone is going to see things the same way, so it helps me to understand where people are coming from. But don’t get me wrong if your values are to far left or to far right, I can honestly say I don’t care and DNF.

So, the moral is don’t feel obligated to finish a book if it’s not hitting that sweet spot.

What are your thoughts on to DNF or Not to DNF? Do you DNF? If so, why? What was the last book you DNF’d?

8 thoughts on “To DNF or Not to DNF?

  1. I definitely agree! DNFing a books shouldn’t be a guilt ride because at the end of it all, we all are reading for fun and if something isn’t giving us what we love, it’s fine to let go 😀 I frequently get the squirrel moments especially because I tend to pick up quite a lot of books together so the shiny covers tend to draw me in more, lol. I loved this post, btw ❤

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  2. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there to keep reading one that’s not holding your interest. I mostly have trouble DNFing because I already got so far into it and I want those pages to count toward my Goodreads goal! Which is a stupid reason to waste valuable minutes of your life reading a book that’s just no good!

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  3. I am an unapologetic DNFer! There are so many books out there, and my time is so precious. My only problem is if it’s for a book that I know everybody loves, I start to wonder if I’m crazy. I’ll actually go through Goodreads and try to find a dissenting opinion so I can get that validation. I know this is so weird! What I’ve learned from this is that there is ALWAYS someone out there who doesn’t like even tho most popular of books, so I’m never alone. I think I’d like to just know myself better and be more confident in my choice to DNF, and not even check the reviews so religiously.

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    • You should be unapologetic about DNFing. If a book doesn’t hit that sweet spot then why continue reading. Such a waste of time. I have gone through the Goodreads reviews too to see if anyone feels the same way. Sometimes it bums me out to see that I may be the only one that doesn’t like a book. Then I deflect and say there’s something wrong with everyone else because they loved the book. You know it’s not me it’s them.

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  4. Boredom really is a deadly sin when it comes to books, in my opinion. I will DNF after 50-75 pages if it’s not grabbing me. There are just TOO MANY BOOKS TO GET TO. Unless it’s a book for my book group, and then I really do try to finish it. Luckily, most of our picks are winners!

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  5. With my time seeming to be more and more limited, I DNF books a lot more than I used to. It is usually for one of two reasons – 1. The just not connecting that you mentioned in your first paragraph. 2. I am forced away to do something else (often travel) and just can’t seem to pick it back up when I return. This is awful if i really liked the book.

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