Thursday, October 03, 2013

Book Girls Don’t Cry: To DNF, or Not to DNF

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Book Girls Don’t Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don’t miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:


The Big Bad DNF

How are you with DNFing books? Is this something you do at the first sign of not liking a book? Or are you the type to refuse to do it at all? Today we’re talking about the big sin of not finishing a book! *gasp*

When/Why I DNF
I used to be the type who would never not finish a book. No matter how much I didn’t like it I would pull through and finish it. This was before I was a blogger, though, and not being a guinea pig for new books meant I only read those who came highly recommended, so not liking a book was actually pretty rare. I also only read 1/4 of the amount of books I do now. Since I started blogging things changed on that front quite a bit. I have mountains of books to read, and there are either very few or no reviews at all when I start a book, thus not liking it is a lot more likely. Sometimes I will pull through if it’s a short book or if it’s one that is so bad it’s entertaining (yes those exist!), but if I’m truly hating it I won’t bother continuing to torture myself. Some books I disliked to much I was dreading it. What fun is that? Reading is a hobby! I’ve heard “well maybe the ending will be worth it and you’ll miss out”, but you know what? If it takes until the last pages for a book to be good, I still won’t care for it. Plus I have never had that happen in my life.  Plus, it shouldn’t take that long to engage a reader and that is that. So yes, I DNF. I don’t have a page limit per se, I go strictly by how I’m feeling towards the book and the mood I am in. I do try to at least read half before deciding it’s time to give it up, but lately I’ve given up on a few books even before the 20% mark – though these were special types of awful.

Reviewing a DNF.
I’m not against DNF reviews personally. I find they can be just as helpful. They tell us why someone didn’t like a book to such a degree that they couldn’t finish it. If it can save someone else the same faith, why is it frowned upon? You only have to read a very small percentage of a book before you get a feel of the writing and characters. There were also obviously some clear flaws or annoyances that made someone DNF, and those same things might annoy someone else just as badly, so I want to know what they are! I don’t write full reviews for DNF books like I do others – though it’s more because I don’t want to waste the time than I feel it’s “wrong” – but I still post them on Goodreads and in DNF Madness posts on my blog which I do every few months.

I understand a bit more why people don’t rate DNF books. I think it depends a lot on why they quit. If I truly hate a book SO much that I can’t finish it, I’m sorry, but that book is getting a 1 star. I mean, if a book is terrible to such degree that I can’t stomach it anymore, the 1 star I give it is not any less “real” than from someone who wasted an extra few hours of their lives to finish the horrid mess that it was. Now if I read 20 pages of a book and quit because I’m not in the mood or I don’t think I will like it, I won’t rate that. To me that’s more like reading a chapter excerpt to decide if you will enjoy a book or not. Other times I’ve DNFed due to the genre, the complexity, the writing style or other not being of my taste – meaning not being for ME, not that it was bad. Stormdancer for instance, I DNFed because it wasn’t my genre. The problem wasn’t the book, I don’t want to warn others against it, it just was not my personal taste. To me that’s very different so I leave my rating blank.

I think DNFing all comes to how many books you read, how fast you read, and how patient you are. Also I guess how picky you are in what you start. I read 150-200 books a year and I’m not one who can finish a book in 2 hours so I’m not going to waste time with blah books. Especially that I generally have low patience >.<

Do you DNF books or refuse to?
What do you think of reviews/ratings on DNFed books?

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XOXO, Book Girl

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

38 Responses to “Book Girls Don’t Cry: To DNF, or Not to DNF”

  1. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I am an impatient reader so I DNF when a book isn’t grabbing me and it’s my second attempt at it. I try to review them but some just are unbearable. I do rate DNFs though. I’ve rated a DNF 2 stars and I base the rating on what I thought of the book so far or something.

    Lovely post, Giselle! <33

  2. Bethzaida (bookittyblog)

    Before being a blogger I would feel so bad if I didn’t finish a book but now I don’t have the luxury to read a book that’s not clicking with me at all. So yeah I go by feeling too. If I’m not feeling the book I won’t finish it. I do feel bad if I rate it without finishing it but I do it anyways. Great post Giselle!

  3. Wendy @ Escape Into Fiction

    It’s so funny you should post this because I literally just DNF’d two books in a row and put up a post about both of them today. Sigh. I hate it when I come across a book that I just can’t finish. But I completely agree with you that reading is supposed to be a hobby, which to me means enjoyable. And if I’m not enjoying the book, then why should I waste any more time on it when there are a billion other books out there that I know I’ll enjoy?

    I don’t give actual ratings for books I DNF, as a whole. Instead, I just share what didn’t work for me and why I had to stop reading and leave it at that. I go by feel instead of trying to force myself to reach a certain page number or percentage because quite frankly, if I’m not feeling it, chances are I still won’t feel it halfway through or all the way through.

    Great post! 🙂

  4. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I used to finish every book, but I’m starting to get much easier about DNF. If I don’t enjoy a book after a certain amount of pages (most of the time around 50) I put it away. Sometimes it can be a book that didn’t fell good at the time (I’ll give it a second chance), sometimes I just hated it so much I’ll never touch it again :p

    I think reviewing a DNF can be very helpful, as long as you state that it’s a DNF review. I like to see why someone couldn’t continue. I always rate them with 1 stars, expect for the second-chance-books.

  5. xtina@moydrookreads

    We must be on the same wavelength. I literally just wrote about how I’m tempted to give up 1/4 of the way through The Raven Boys because it’s feeling like a chore. I generally have no issue with DNF…like you, I read YA for fun and if it starts to feel like work, then it’s no longer a hobby. I have to read a lot of (non YA) books for my job and they are not always to my taste, so when I read for pleasure it needs to be pleasure! I also have no issue with the DNF review for the same reasons you list. If I’m debating whether or not to stop reading a book midway through, the first thing I do is go to Amazon or Goodreads and read the lower star reviews to see why other people have given up or didn’t like it…make sure my decision is justified!

    • Giselle

      Exactly! When it doesn’t feel like a fun hobby what’s the point in reading? I didn’t love Raven Boys as much as the others it’s a very slow read I found. I don’t remember much from it to tell you if it gets better or not though >.<

  6. Ashley

    I totally agree with your policy on DNF ratings. That’s pretty much exactly what I do!

    I’m kind of bummed about all the books I’ve DNF’d lately. On the one hand, I guess it’s good that I’m not forcing myself to continue reading those books.. but on the other hand, just the fact that I’ve been not finishing more than usual makes me question what that means. Am I in a reading slump and just not in the mood to read tons of books? Or do I just so happen to pick up a lot of bad/meh books? Either way, it’s kind of a downer.

  7. Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy

    I am the type of reader that usually feels guilty if I DNF a book, so I don’t do it very often. I’m very careful about what I request/accept so most of the books I read are good experiences. But once in a while I start a book that everyone else has loved, and it just doesn’t work for me.Even then I want to finish it so I can see what all the fuss is about!

  8. Michelle

    I hate DNFing but I recently had to with one book. I really was dreading reading it. I tried reading it faster to get through it but I still wasn’t liking it. I’m stuck between wanting to give it one star or just saying that I DNF. I’ll probably do both, but I can’t stop the guilty feeling…

  9. JennRenee

    I think I agree on pretty much all you said excpet of mountians of books with few or no reviews. I still get books with some reviews to go off, but I agree before I blogged I always finished books. I read slower I read less and I didn’t know how many great books were out there so I trudged through. Now it seems a waste of my time and takes me away from books I love. I don’t have a lot of low ratings on my Goodreads or blog becuase I don’t review books often that I don’t like or did not finish. Only for the reason I don’t like to talk about things I don’t like its not as fun. I am not as picky as some readers so there are less I don’t like than other bloggers. I think if you make it 20% through a book and just can’t take it anymore at least rate it with a 1 star. I at least do that. Great post.

  10. Lolita

    I used to finish all books before I became a blogger and only since this year I managed to DNF more books instead of struggling through them. I always write at least a short review to explain why it’s a DNf for me, I don’t post those reviews on my blog though.
    I never rate DNF books, because in my opinion I can’t rate a book I haven’t read in total, so I feel it’s unfair to rate it. I once read a book and the first 60 or so pages where really slow, I considered DNF’ing it, but I ended up finishing it and giving it 5 stars, because after those first 60 pages the book became really good. That shows that some books can turn around and even though most books don’t, I still never rate a DNF book.

  11. Savannah

    I used to be the same way. I would force myself to finish a book no matter what. But now, if I can’t get into the book about 60 pages in, I’m done. And I give every DNF book a rating of 2 stars because of the effort it takes to write a book. I give the, credit for that and nothing else. I never fully explain why I DNF the book. I used to do it but I have other reviews to write I feel that a DNF is explanation enough.

  12. Emily @ Falling for YA

    Before blogging I had never NOT finished a book. But reading over a 100 books a year, if a book is not grabbing me or I have serious problems with the plot or characters I will DNF it and not feel bad. It’s not worth my time to read a book I’m not enjoying, and I will usually post something on Goodreads justifying my DNF so that others can see why I disliked something and maybe the things I disliked are traits they’ll love.

  13. Candace

    I do DNF a lot. Sometimes it’s unintentional, it just doesn’t fit my mood or something and then I never go back to it, but sometimes I just know a book isn’t going to work for me. I don’t rate or review my DNF books, but I suppose I’m not really against it if you read enough to be able to be fair about it, or if it’s just horribly edited or something like that.
    I use to say 50 pages was my goal before DNF’ing, but I don’t really stick with that anymore. If I’m not feeling it I just move on. There are just too many books I need to read to spend time on one that I’m not loving. Quite often I figure it’s just my mood and not the book.

  14. Suzanne van Rooyen

    I DNF but I don’t rate DNF’s because many times the reason I didn’t get past the Amazon sample has more to do with my present mood, a book hangover, or the book just not being my cup of tea – it doesn’t necessarily mean the book was bad or deserving of a 1-star rating.

  15. Hannah @ The Irish Banana Review

    *GASP* What the … Giselle! You can’t speak about DNFing! What’s wrong with you?! DNF is the most unholy of acronyms!


    Seriously, this is a fantastic post. Especially the part about reviewing and rating DNFs. I used to be of the mindset that if I started it, I had to finish it. HAD TO. So I would go over a month, trying to plow through the same book. But now I have so much to read and review, if a book isn’t working for me, I simply have to move on.

  16. Daph

    I rarely DNF a book. I’m one of those nutters who really wants to read the book in its entirety, to see how it ends (the worst reason ever) and to see if it gets better (nope). Sometimes, when I absolutely feel like ripping my own hair out, I DNF a book. But I think I’ve only done that about a handful of times.

    I should DNF more often – I often torture myself my continuing reading books I hate or am seriously annoyed with. It’s a bad habit I need to break, but I can’t seem to do it. Sigh.

  17. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I used to do the same thing — if I started a book, I was darned well gonna finish it. Now? Not so much. Like you, I read way too many books per year to waste time on a book I’m not going to love or even like. One star means I didn’t like it enough to finish it.

  18. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    I have gotten better about not finishing a book that I just can’t get into. I used to feel bad not finishing it, but with so many books out there, I just can’t make myself keep reading something that I really just don’t enjoy. There is someone else who will probably love the book.

  19. Jennifer @ Some Like It Paranormal

    I also used to always finish a book. But then I realized sometimes I was spending months forcing myself through something for no reason so I stopped. I DNF all the time now and I am so much happier! I’d rather not waste a single important reading minute with something I’m not enjoying when there are so many books out there I am dying to read!

  20. titania86

    I DNF very rarely. I will slog through a book even if it’s not that interesting and even if some of it angers me because I feel I need to finish the book to make a review based on the entire work. I DNF when something makes me so angry I have problems reading it beyond the red in my vision or it makes me so bored I have to struggle to keep awake. I think I’ve only written 2 DNF reviews over the past 3 or 4 years.

  21. Molli

    I DNF rarely. I think I’ve DNF’ed…four books this year and that’s HUGE HUGE HUGE for me. I really try to push through even a “meh” book especially if it’s a review book or a review request because I do feel like I owe it to that publisher and/or that author to give my opinion. BUT if I know I’m a third or halfway through and absolutely loathing the book…sometimes I do DNF.

    I LIKE DNF reviews, especially when they use quotes or something. I don’t rate a book I DNF’ed because I feel that’s unfair to the book/author. But reading a DNF review is really interesting to me.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  22. ShootingStarsMag

    I don’t think DNF reviews really NEED a rating, but I like the way you go about it. As for reviews of them, it is nice to see what someone did not like. I’ve read a review of a book and the reason someone didn’t really enjoy it is something I LOVE in books, so I knew I’d enjoy it. So sometimes DNF or “negative” reviews can actually help someone realize they might like it.

  23. Megan

    I generally DNF a bit earlier, usually around 25%. If I make it halfway, I usually plow through to the end.

    Once in a while I post DNF Files to go through recent books I DNFed.

  24. Kara @ Great Imaginations

    I agree with you here. Totally not against rating a DNF book if it was so awful you wanted to tear it to shreds. I don’t do it often, but if I do, that sucker is getting 1 star. Alice In Zombieland, I am looking at you.

  25. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    Great discussion post! I do DNF books. When I first started blogging I did not but now that I have many more books I can’t waste the time on something I don’t like. I will attempt a book and if it isn’t hitting right I’ll put it aside for a book or two-then try again. If it still doesn’t suck me in a DNF. I don’t review them on my blog but I do put up a short blurb on GR and write why to the publisher.

    My Friends Are Fiction

  26. Shannelle (The Tracery of Ink)

    I don’t rate my DNFs, since I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to judge it.

    I don’t hesitate in DNFing either, especially if I can spot grammar that I don’t enjoy from the very beginning of the book. But I’ve noticed that I’m more willing to bear with a print book, but then, I have more time to read those. I can’t say the same for eARCs, since I can’t use electronic devices in school at all.

  27. Jasmine @ Flip That Page

    Hmmm… I’ve never DNFed a book before, and I honestly think that I’ll keep reading a book even if it induces sleep, my gag reflex, or both (gods forbid D:) But I’m not against those who do! I think there are books out there that are horrible enough to deserve not getting finished, and I don’t mind people who opine about them! I actually appreciate DNF reviews because they tell me what exactly it was that was so unlikable about a certain book, which helps me gauge whether or not I want to read it, especially in terms of those on my TBR. So yeah that’s it. Great post! <3

  28. picturemereading

    This is a great post..honestly I try to truck through but it is so PAINFUL..Furious was like that for me..I was stuck on an international flight and was hoping for entertainment but it was SO painful to truck through..but I feel bad if I review and haven’t seen if it improves towards the didn’t LOL

  29. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I have found that I have DNF’d a lot of books this year. I don’t know if books just aren’t as great this year, or if my patience has gotten worse. I also have taken to not reading a book if it’s getting horrible reviews. I know I should try it at least, but if everyone seems to hate it, I’m sure I will too, so why bother.

  30. Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

    I used to force mysel to finish every book as well and that quickly changed when I started blogging. Too many books and as you say…some of them are a shot in the dark. And I love reading DNF reviews. I think that as long as the person is up front about not finishing the book that a lot can be learned about the whys!

  31. Elvina Barclay

    I almost always try and finish a book, especially if it’s one I have purchased. I don’t hesitate to DNF a book I’ve borrowed from the library, I can always go back and pick it up later.

  32. Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    I’ve been blogging for about 8 months now, so I’m starting to feel like I’m at the point where I have enough reviews under my belt and therefore, the liberty of DNF’ing. Until recently, I worried that pubs would put on some kind of blacklist for requesting and then not reading a book.

    But still, a complete DNF is rare for me, just because even if I hate a book, I still feel the need to know how it ends. So, a DNF for me usually consists of skimming through the book beginning at whatever point I decide to throw in the towel and a more thorough reading of the ending of the book.

  33. Pili

    I do more DNF-for-now that proper DNF, but I still refuse to finish books that annoy the heck out of me! If it’s a book that is not gripping enough or something on those lines I usually try my best to pull through, but if the book irritates me in any way… I refuse to inflict that on myself!
    I’ve had books that weren’t very gripping the first time I started reading them so I left them aside for a bit and then ended being awesome books I loved, so I do give books the DNF-for-now courtesy if they don’t annoy me!

  34. Krazzyme

    I just don’t finish it. As you said.. Reading is a HOBBY. why read if you don’t want to. I have to do that for work anyways why do it in my free time as well. I just don’t rate them. If I stop reading a book because it deals with an issue I’m not comfortable with I sometimes write on goodreads why I’m not going to read it anymore. For eg. Room . I started reading it but I have an overactive imagination and I KNEW I’d get nightmares if I read the entire book so I stopped.

  35. Nichole @YaReads

    I DNF a lot more now than I ever used to. Probably because, like you, I only read highly recommended books. I wasn’t reading stuff that I didn’t like. Now as a blogger I have to read a lot more than I ever used to, so I’m way more picky. I’m not willing to read something that I don’t like or that I find boring. Some of my DNF books get reviewed on the blog…while others don’t. It really just comes down to how much I read of it and how much I really have to say. And most of my DNF books don’t get rated, but there have been a few that I did rate. I’m sorry…but if I hate the book that much, then I’m going to give it 1 star. I’m not just going to NOT rate it, because I didn’t finish it and don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. As a blogger, though, I’ve received a lot of crap about DNFing books. Personally, I don’t care…but I’m starting to see that there is a biiiig argument.