Discussion Post: To DNF or Not To DNF, That Is The Question – Or How Do You Decide If You Should Give Up On A Book?

Posted July 29, 2016 by Lisa Mandina in discussion post / 22 Comments

Once again my discussion post has been pushed off until the end of the month.  And it changed topics several times.  But, I’ve seen a lot of other posts about DNFing, so I thought I would join in since I have some big thoughts about it too, and of course there will be gifs.  Today I’ve chosen a bunch of gifs from a new favorite show, Brooklyn Nine Nine.  Also, a reminder that the 2016 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight.  If you want to check out any of my earlier posts you can go to these links:

My title of course refers to Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” famous quote.  I often feel conflicted on whether to give up on a book.  There was a day though, before blogging, before working at a bookstore, when I didn’t give up on books.  I either fought my way through to the bitter end, or I put a bookmark in it (yes, sometimes that was a folded page corner) and set the book aside to pick up and finish later.  Once Goodreads came around, I actually left those books on my currently reading shelf.  Until recently.  When I decided that having 20 books on my currently reading shelf was just silly.  So I moved those books to another shelf, the DNF one, or else I have another “series I may not finish” shelf on Goodreads.  My Goodreads DNF shelf has 68 books on it currently.

While it has gotten easier to decide to give up on a book due to all the other books I have to read just waiting on me, it still is never quite that easy.  When I have heard such great things about a book.  Or when I requested it on Netgalley or Edelweiss.  But I’ve also learned that I can still give those sites a review, and explain to them why I didn’t finish it.  However, one thing is that I don’t feel like I can give a review to other people if I haven’t given it a fair chance.

The reason I don’t do reviews on my DNF books is because I know that there are probably many other people who will enjoy the book.  But now, I begin to wonder if I should give more of a reason on Goodreads at least, to others looking to figure out whether they will like a book or  not.  So I guess one question I would like anyone reading this to discuss in the comments is about reviewing DNF books.  Do you DNF?  If you do, do you review them?  Whether you DNF or not, do you want to read a review of why someone did DNF?


The other question I have for discussion, if you do DNF, when do you decide to do it?  I’ve heard many different things.  Some do after 10%, others take their age subtracted from 100 and read that many pages first.  So far I haven’t necessarily followed anything specific.  I do try to do at least 10%, but I go until I just can’t keep reading, can’t make myself read anymore without having to actually work to concentrate.

Please, chime in below and share your thoughts on this whole DNF thing with me!  I am always looking for any tips that make things easier, or make me feel better about doing something the way I’m already doing it.  And because I couldn’t go without at least one Supernatural gif, here you go:

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22 responses to “Discussion Post: To DNF or Not To DNF, That Is The Question – Or How Do You Decide If You Should Give Up On A Book?

  1. I have a "not for me" not a DNF but that is basically what it is. Also have one "try again when the mood hits". Those are for ones that my mood didn't match the book but I may try again at some point. Some books I know in the very beginning if I don't like it. I try to go to at least 30%.

    • I feel the same way about some books for the try again thing. I know that it's not that I don't like it, I'm just not in the mood for some reason at that moment. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I review every book I pick up. I actually think you can learn more from a fair review of a DNF book than a gushing 5 star review. By that, I mean explain WHY you didn't like the book. For me, the book could be too slow, I hate the MC, I don't enjoy the plot, it isn't my thing, an unexpected love triangle appears and takes over the story etc. I reviewed a DNF today-nothing wrong with the writing but I just didn't find the book to my taste. If I tell other readers that, they won't be put off. If I talk about the UF book having too much romance in it, a PNR fan might be more likely to pick it up knowing it is more PNR than UF. A low star review or DNF review can be positive for authors and informative for other bloggers and readers if you tell them anything you did like as well as detail about what put you off. I check out the low star/DNF reviews of books I plan to read to check for tropes I hate and that lets me bodyswerve books with things I really hate and then I don't waste my time on it and the author doesn't get a low review from me! Low star reviews are more useful to me than high reviews.

    On the 'when to DNF' question, for me it is simple. I have only one rule which is stop when I no longer want to read on. I could read 7 pages or 70 but when I get bored or don't like it or it isn't my kind of read, I stop and that's it. I don't see the point in prolonging the agony!

    • That's kind of what I have been thinking. Often a bad review of a book makes me want to read it more, or even a DNF may keep me from reading a book instead of wasting my own time on it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I do DNF books but I don't publicize it. I usually try to push through to the first 5 chapters or 20% through. I don't DNF very often. I work really hard to do my homework on books to avoid having to DNF usually there are signs as to what makes a quality book and what doesn't before you read it. Though even with all my tell-tales sometimes a book falls through the scrutiny. I personally don't have time for bad books. I have probably DNf'd 3 in the last two years. So not often at all. Thank goodness there are more good books that are not completely developed.

    • I need to do better about requesting books so that I don't DNF them. And I am doing better with egalleys and such. I've started writing them down, but not necessarily downloading and feeling like I have to read them, which often means DNFing. So I hope to get better. But like you, there are so many good books that I don't have time for the bad ones. Thanks for sharing and stopping by!

  4. I just put up a post about DNF books yesterday. I’ll DNF a book as soon as I decide it’s not working for me. If I DNF before the 50% mark, I don’t review it because I don’t think it’s fair to review something that I barely read. If I DNF after 50%, I’ll explain why I DNFed.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    • I like that. I feel like when I stop pretty quickly, I can't really review other than to just say I couldn't get into it. But I like t he 50% mark for deciding to do a review. Thanks for joining in!

  5. A few years ago I was on a real crush to look through about five books before I was going to sit on a selection committee to create a list of best books. Since I had so many books left to read and so little time I resolved to read 50 pages of each book just to get an idea of the writing style and whether the story could grab me in that few pages. After I did this at the meeting I realized I hadn't read enough to form an opinion and decided to keep my mouth shut about these books inclusion or exclusion on the list. I say this because a review on a DNF doesn't seem fair to my blog readers. How many times have I fallen in love with a book in the last 50-100 pages? If I don't finish a book I am not in a position to review it. But I agree with LISA. If I don't finish a book, my goodreads page is a perfect place to note that I DNF the book.

    • I can't say that the end of a book has ever made me fall in love with it when I wasn't already enjoying it. But I can remember that some endings were just wonderful, so maybe that could be true. But I just have so many books to read, that right now, I just can't spend time on books I am not enjoying. Thanks so much for joining in with my discussion!

  6. I do review books I DNF, explaining why I didn't and why I couldn't get past something — I think elements like that are just as important for readers to know to make up their minds about. That's why I'd read a review of someone else who DNF-ed a book too.

    • I think this can be important. I just need to find the time to do that. I try sometimes to do a little comment on the review on Goodreads when I DNF, and that's about it. Thanks for joining in!

  7. I only review books that I DNF if and only if I read 50% of the book. And my review will only tell the reasons why I marked it as DNF. As a reader, I also like to read a review to those books that you DNF. I want to know what made you decide to quit that book. Through that DNF review, I'll get a gist of whether the book is for me or not. 🙂

    Alyssa @ Diary of a Book Maniac

    • I like the 50% for reviewing. I just don't feel like it's fair to review if I've only read 10%. But it makes sense to do like you do, and just tell the reasons you DNF. Thanks for being a part of the discussion!

  8. I don't have rhyme or reason to when I DNF books. If I don't like it and I'm struggling to even pick up the book, then I'll eventually DNF it. I try to at least give the book 100 or so pages for the book to pick up. Right now I have 5 books I'm "currently reading", but two of those are actually DNF's. I'm thinking of just putting back onto my to-read list though and not calling them DNFs because I do want to continue on with the books, it just wasn't the right time. I don't review books I DNF, but I think that's just personal preference. I like reading DNF reviews because it gives me some good perspective to what I'm getting into! Great discussion, Lisa! 😀

    • There are a few books that I might go back and read, I think I've been putting them more under the category of "series I may not finish". Mostly that is what is happening with books I might go back to, they are in a series I've already started, and liked, but can't get in the mood for again. Thanks for joining in with the discussion!

  9. I have such a hard time with deciding to DNF or not. In fact, I rarely work up the nerve to DNF a book. I always wonder if maybe the end gets better and maybe I really would like the novel.
    Thanks for sharing!

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