I really don’t like DNF’ing (Did Not Finishing) books, especially after a certain point like 50% or 60% through. If I wanted to continue it someday, re-reading the whole thing would probably be essential to get a full and cohesive view of the book. Plus there is just something that feels wasteful about investing, say, 200+ pages but not seeing it through to the end. What if the book picks up, and whatever brought me to that 50% mark in the first place ends up being present and redeeming for the second half?

I’m curious about how far in you guys DNF a book. Do you just DNF at any time it fails to grab you? Or are you like me and tempted to power through to the end after a certain point? Do you know pretty early on and intuitively if a book isn’t right for you or right for the time?

The last two books I DNF’d were lofty classics that seem very well worth my time, but I could tell I didn’t have the attention span necessary to give them the devoted attention they deserved at that moment.

I think back to my first time reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (review coming soon!) It was after a long draught in reading, where I was taking it slow and steady and giving that book all the energy it deserved. I want to read every one of the older, more taxing classics of interest with that sort of focused enthusiasm. That probably doesn’t count as a DNF though, more like a put it back in the TBR and read it later someday (is there an acronym for that? lol)

Another book I sadly DNF’d about 2 months ago was The Priory Of The Orange Tree. I was not at all in the mood for a fantasy novel at the time and the characters didn’t grab me after 90 pages spent with them. What’s funny about DNF’ing is that the books I DNF sometimes still worm their way into my psyche. They leave a mark that makes them more likely to be revisited than random books still waiting in my TBR. After reading and loving A Game Of Thrones, it’s like a little path has been opened into my appreciating more lengthy and wordy fantasy novels and Priory is one of those. Tempted to revisit it someday.

Thankfully, I do not often encounter this problem of wanting to DNF books. Most books are enjoyable, with a pacing that hooks you in and many aspects worth appreciating.

Curious about your DNF’ing thoughts, what was the last book you DNF’d and why? As always-

46 thoughts on “When To DNF A Book?

  1. The last book I DNFd was a book I had tried to read about 3 times and each time I couldn’t get past the first 30 pages. I kept putting it back on my TBR and trying again but no dice.

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  2. I used to feel guilty about DNFing ARCs but I dont anymore. There are too many good books to read. Plus I think it causes burn out. I have two rules I do stick by. I dont write reviews about books I DNF because… I didnt finish them and I just don’t feel comfortable doing so and two (with ARCs) I always tell the publisher.

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  3. I have a ‘temporary DNF’ list which is comprised of the books I’m no longer in the mood for and decide to pick back up at a later date, and a ‘Definite DNF’ list of books. My most recent book to go onto the ‘temporary DNF’ list is The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I do really like what I’ve read so far but it wasn’t satisfying my reading mood.

    In terms of definitely DNFing a book, I try to get at least 30% into it. There has to be at least a couple of redeeming qualities for me to push on through the book and finish it. I powered on through Aurora Rising last month and honestly I wish I hadn’t because it failed to captivate me as much as I thought it would.

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  4. I used to NEVER DNF a book β€” but I struggled. Now I’ve learned to think about why I don’t want to finish: if it’s content, then the book goes bye bye. If I’m not feeling it, I usually realize that within a few chapters and revisit later. But if I made it over a fourth of the way, I have to continue. Like you said, that’s a commitment that I won’t want to reread if I revisit later.

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  5. I’m learning to DNF a book if I’m not enjoying it by a certain percentage of the book. It’s hard because I like to give each book a fair shot, but the sad fact is that we’re not going to like every single book. It’s better to stop reading what we don’t enjoy and read more of what we do enjoy πŸ™‚

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  6. this year I learned that to dnf a book was a good thing for me sanity lmao not every book so going to be a perfect fit and that’s fine. it’s not for me. I usually dnf when I find myself not caring about the book, plots, or characters at all lmao

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  7. I never used to feel guilty DNF’ing a book until I became a book blogger and read arcs. Haha…now I power through the arcs but thank goodness so far they have all been pretty good! There were just a few that I wondered why I was even continuing. One book I cannot finish is Ruin and Rising from the Grisha series, I’ve tried 2 times to read that book and I think I finally got through chapter one. For books like that I tell myself to revisit later when I’m in the mood and it works out better that way. If it’s something I borrowed or bought then I totally DNF them if it doesn’t hold my attention. I almost didn’t want to continue Priory also…but I did.

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  8. If I’m losing complete interest to read, I will set the book aside. However, I choose to think that there’s a chance I might pick it back up one day. So I don’t ever mark anything DNF. Somebody gave great advice of always read the first two chapters before deciding if you like a book or not. It’s stuck with me.

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  9. I’ve already DNF’d a book, and I’ve only been reading more intentionally for 2 months. It was a very gritty dystopian book, and the first chapter was full of severed heads and pedophilia/incest (and it was a long, depressing chapter). Considering some of the books that I’ve finished that were a major slog, I think that book was just an unfortunate choice early in my book blogging “career,” and gives me a threshold for deciding to DNF.

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  10. I actually never DNF. I put them to the side hoping that I’ll be able to pick them again one day. It’s like a “read you later” shelf. That still doesn’t happen a lot though cause I feel an immeasurable amount of guilt for not finishing a book. I know that’s silly (and totally self-imposed) but I feel like I owe it to the author but also to myself for the few hours of my life I’ve already invested in it πŸ˜‚ I can’t help it! If I want to DNF and struggle real hard but don’t wanna put it aside, then I will skim through most parts until the end and most of the time that works! Haha

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  11. I usually read about a third before I DNF… if I’m not into the book after a third, it’s probably not going to work for me. But I do give every book a really good try unless I hate it from the start. It’s when I find myself starting to skim that I realize I’m not enjoying the book… and there’s too much I want to read to keep going with something I don’t like. It also depends if the book is for a challenge or an ARC, then I give it more effort than a book I’m reading for no specific reason.

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  12. I also DNFd The Priory of the Orange Tree… I wanted to like it, but it lost me in the middle. I’m ok with DNFing! Life is too short to waste of books that don’t captivate you. I generally give things a fair shot, but if it’s not working for me… ye, it goes!

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      1. It’s loooong. Which is fine if the story is so compelling and epic that it justifies that length. But I felt like it wasn’t epic or new enough to sustain interest over the kind of ebb and flow of a long plot. But loads of people loved it. I can totally see it had some real strengths, but for me it would have been better at half the size. It just lost me

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  13. Most of the time I DNF within the first couple of chapters. If it’s a book that’s been hyped or raved about I sometimes force myself to continue reading but it usually ends up with me hating the book far more than I would if I’d stopped earlier.

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  14. It’s pretty rare I DNF a book, and usually it’s because like you mentioned, you get so far through and realize you don’t like it, but continue to soldier on due to the time already invested. If I DNF it’s typically within the first few chapters. Something is unappealing, whether it be a surprising approach to characterization (I blacklisted Nora Roberts from my to-reads forever after not even a full chapter because her male lead forced himself onto the female lead who was clearly saying no and pushing him away… but I digress) or grammar/editing that is so poor it’s unreadable. The few times I DNF further in was because the story took a sudden turn that I was not down with reading.

    I find many classics hard to read. Frankenstein was assigned for my British Lit seminar class and I skimmed instead of read it. I tried reading A Wrinkle in Time, which I loved as a child, and couldn’t stand it as an adult (and can’t bring myself to see the movie now either). Some books stand the test of time, others do not.

    Thanks for this post! It’s such an interesting topic and I love seeing all the responses.

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    1. Yikes about that Nora Roberts book, what is the title? I agree very much about classics they need an energy that I often don’t have to give and there are so many great and less complicated books to choose from. I’m glad I made this post and have been delighted by all the in depth replies, thank you so much for commenting. πŸ˜€

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  15. I often stop reading a book at the 80-page mark (without intending to be THE spot) because at at point I figure I have wasted enough time on a book I am not interested in reading. I often stop reading because I realized I don’t like the character enough to care. Other times it’s because the characters are so awful, I can’t continue reading it. It’s not often these days that I figure I have gone this far, I might as well continue. If I don’t like reading it, I will stop.

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    1. 80 pages seems like enough time to know whether a book is worth it. I agree with you on stopping reading when you don’t care about the characters/cast. I still power through but in time I imagine feeling more comfortable just quitting. There are too many great books out there waiting to be read. Thanks for your thoughts! πŸ™‚

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