Reading and Ranting: Searching for that DNF


I wanted to do something different on the blog, something to shake things up a bit. It gets a bit boring with just reviews and a few book features, so since I love reading discussion posts on other blogs I figured I’d make some time to do a few myself and try it out.


So as some of you may already know I have a strange compulsion to finish every book I start. It doesn’t matter if it’s the worse book I’ve ever touched in my life, I finish it. I drag myself through every terrible word and some how convince myself that I’m better for it. Allow me to break it down:

  • Infinite Bucket List Goal: I’m one book closer to reading every book in the world.
  • Empathy: I know someone out there likes it and I want to see why.
  • Foolish Optimism: Sometimes I’m just hoping the next sentence, paragraph, page, or chapter will be better than the last.
  • Equal Exchange: I paid for it, I’m finishing. Enough said.
  • Giving the Author Their Due: I know that every book I read is someone’s hard work. No book is ‘easy’ to write and I don’t like feeling like I’m throwing someone’s work aside.

So you see, there is a lot going against the grand idea of “DNF. To me it’s like a far off dream of freedom in a way…I want to be able to put aside a crappy book without feeling guilty, half-finished, or like I’m going to miss out. Yet each time I try I end up grabbing the book again, it may take a few days or years…but I always end up reading the book. It’s almost like I have these tiny invisible chains connecting me to books and they don’t break until that last page is read.

So I’m hunting for my DNF. I know that sounds bad. It sounds like I’m on the lookout for a book to casually toss aside like trash, but that’s not it at all. I’m looking for the moment where I can say to myself, “Michelle it’s okay to put this down and never come back.” I just want it to be an option because I get majorly stressed over review books I don’t enjoy. I know there are plenty of bloggers who don’t finish everything sent to them and I’m alright with that, but it doesn’t sit well with me when I attempt it.

So what is your opinion on not finishing books? I know it sounds silly but any tips or tricks on letting go and moving on? Anyone else feel the same way or am I just as weird as I think I am?

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27 Responses to Reading and Ranting: Searching for that DNF

  1. I think you already know this, but we definitely have the same problem when it comes to really bad books. I just really don’t know how to let go of them until I finish them…

  2. I think you are far from alone with this one and you’ve explained your reasoning really well. I try hard to finish but if I’m really hating a book, I’ll quit at about 30%. I think that’s enough time to be sure it’s not for me. And I don’t want to waste time on a book I hate when I have so many that I could possibly love waiting for me. I don’t really think about the author when I dnf, I just feel the book wasn’t for me and is best left to those who will appreciate it more.

    • Thank you, I was kind of worried that I’d babble on and not really get the point across. Before I started blogging I didn’t really think about the author either, so that’s a recent thing but I still couldn’t put a book down. I think I’ve some how convinced myself that if I finish a book I don’t like then I’ve improved myself somehow, lol.

  3. Lauren says:

    Great post!
    I cannot read a book that I am not enjoying. There are so many great books out there and my time is limited so I never force myself to read a book.
    I usually give it 50 pages and if it hasn’t grabbed me by then it isn’t going to and I DNF.
    Good luck with your search :0)

  4. Shannon says:

    I don’t read nearly as much as you do, but I can relate to this post. With nonfiction, for some reason, I don’t mind not finishing. I guess if it’s textbook-like and I get bored, then I don’t feel bad putting it down.

    With fiction, however, I do feel obligated to finish. I guess that even if I don’t find a story interesting or compelling, I still want to see how it turns out. I broke “always finish” rule this winter. I started borrowing e-books from the library and many popular titles often have a wait list. I couldn’t finish a particular book in the 21-day borrowing period. Then I put myself on the wait list and borrowed it again. I *still* couldn’t finish it. It was like a 300-page book, but because I was so “meh” about it, I just didn’t feel like reading it. So, I had the book for a total of six weeks and could barely read 150 pages. When the borrowing period expired the second time, I did not put myself on the wait list for a third time.

    • That’s definitely a start I think! I’ve started books but if I don’t get past page 30 I don’t really consider it ‘starting’ and I don’t have a problem putting it down permanently because the story hasn’t really started. But if I get past that point I finish it…even if it’s due the next day and I have 300 pages left. I’ll binge read it till it’s done.

  5. Wonderful post Michelle and yeah so excited you added a discussion post. Like I said on facebook it took me 45 years to DNF a book, and one of the things I like about it, is that it affords me the opportunity to try new authors and genres. I usually give the book at least 100 pages, but have DNF’d at 75%.

  6. Octavia says:

    I am truly digging this post! I “found” my DNF, this year. In fact it was part of one of my yearly goals for myself:

    “Stop doing things you aren’t enjoying!”

    Of course when I made the goal it was meant to encompass, food, conversations, “friendships” and movies but books somehow fell in too. I’ve forced my way through a lot of super crappy (to me!) reads and when I’m done I always feel upset that I wasted that time, so I stopped. If a book isn’t working for me I call it quits, if I think there is a chance that the book may turn out better later then I put it down for a bit, and go back when I feel like it. DNF’s are really personal. Once you find yours and get into a groove maybe those chains will go away.

  7. It’s a very rare thing for me to have a DNF book. I’d say I only have about 10 books I DNF in a year or around there and I usually DNF them for the reasons you mentioned. With boks I’m pretty much a hopeless optimist πŸ™‚ Great discussion post Michelle.
    Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  8. gaele1 says:

    I’m like you – I always hope it will improve. In fact – I think there are a grand total of 2 books ever that I haven’t finished – and I’m not talking about blogging life here – but ALL of my years reading. One – is a super :name on everyone’s lips in some manner” that I bought – read about 8 pages – couldn’t stand it anymore – returned it. The other – a book in uni that I read sparks notes for instead. A couple I’ve wanted to put down, a few took me 10 days to read 200 pages because going back to it was painful. But I’ve done it.
    I just feel horrible – because SOMEONE will love it – and I should try to see who or why

  9. I can relate to what you’re saying…I have certainly slogged through numerous books that didn’t deserve my time! lol

    It’s getting easier to let go of them now. I have a rule of thumb: if I haven’t engaged with the book by p. 100, it’s gone. To the pile, the purgatory of unread books. What made the difference for me? I’m getting older and I realize that there are soooo many books I WANT to read, so why am I wasting my time with one I’m not enjoying at all?

  10. I’m the same way on finishing what I start. But my “disease” extended to series also. Like for example, if I read book 1 and book 2 in a series…book 1 was good, book 2 not so much, and book 3 comes out next month. I’d be all over buying book 3. And then I start reading book 3 and it sucks worse than book 2 did. SO I’ve started my DNF process with baby steps. I went through my TBR list on Goodreads and removed all of the books in a series that I haven’t read yet where the last book in that series wasn’t good at all. I can’t tell you how free I felt. And since I wasn’t stopping in the middle of a book I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Maybe baby steps are what you need to focus on. Give yourself a time frame or something. Like put the book down for 6 months to 1 year and then when that time frame is up ask yourself if the world will end if you don’t finish that book and ask yourself if you actually really want to know what’s going to happen next.

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

  11. Jennifer says:

    I know exactly how you feel! I feel like if I don’t finish a book that I’m cheating somehow. I just recently started blogging and reviewing (very recently) and had to DNF my first ever book simply because I didn’t have the time to force myself to read I book I really and truly wasn’t enjoying! I don’t think it would be right to recommend a book you could use as your first DNF (though I’m sure I could name a few). Eventually you’ll just realise that a certain book you’re reading just truly isn’t worth the time and effort you would be using to force yourself to finish it. Good luck finding a book you can put down and never return to!

    Live to Read, Love to Read

  12. Berls says:

    Oh I can sympathize! It took me so long before I finally DNFed a book and I felt so guilty about it, especially when I would read reviews from people who loved it. But I finally realized that I just have too many books that I want to read to waste my time pushing through one I don’t like. That doesn’t mean it’s gotten easier. Since that first book I think I’ve only DNF one other book! so yeah, it doesn’t actually get easier (at least not for me)! Great post!

  13. I think I’m in the minority here from the comments I have read. I give a book 20% to grab my attention, if by then I feel my attention wandering off, or the book is pissing me off (and not in a good way) then I just stop reading it and move on. Couple of years ago I used to slog through every single book as well, but realized that it just wasn’t necessary. The world wasn’t going to end if I didn’t finish the book. I was just making myself miserable and making reading, something that I love and enjoy, a chore and something that I dreaded. So I finally just started DNF. Now I end up DNFing average of like 2-5 books a month. It may seem like a lot but I also read about 20+ books a month anyway. So I guess you’ll find your DNF when you just can’t take it anyway.

    Nyx @ Unraveling Words

  14. I’m like you in that I can’t not finish a book. Especially review books bc I feel bad. But I try to remind myself to think about all the time I’m wasting reading a book I’m not enjoying when there are plenty of other books I really want to be reading. Then I don’t feel as bad lol

  15. Christy @ Love of Books says:

    Not too long ago I had only DNF’d one book in my life, but things changed about a year ago or so. Sometimes it took me a month or more to finish a book because I refused to DNF it. Now I don’t have the patients for that. I don’t feel as bad doing it anymore.

  16. I am completely on the same page as you! I recently had to make a call on not finishing a book that I was asked to review and I feel terrible 😦 I will try it again at a later stage maybe. I wasn’t giving it the full attention it deserved as I agree with you, the authors do work so hard and go through so much effort. There has only been 1 other book I that I DNF. I also live in hope that it will improve or catch my attention with the next sentence.
    Thanks for sharing!

  17. rubysbooks2011 says:

    To be honest, I never felt particularly guilty about DNFing a book. I wasn’t too fond of reading growing up and most of the books I read where the oh-so-boring books I had to read for school. You know, classics and all that. And we all know we just *had* to read them, otherwise you couldn’t get a good grade. So the way I see it is like this: unless it’s for an exam, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. There are enough books out there that bore me to tears that I must read and I really don’t feel like putting myself through that when I read for my own enjoyment. I’m not saying my way is a good way of seeing things, but it has helped in the past and so far I’ve never felt guilty about not finishing a book I chose to read.

  18. Belle Read says:

    I suffered from the same compulsion, but I have been cured! πŸ™‚ I have finally decided that it is not a waste of money or time to DNF. I wont recoup the cash and the time spent is only made worse by investing more time in a book that I am not enjoying when there are so many others that I could be reading. I just wrote a DNF post earlier today.

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