Discussion: Trust Me It’s Okay to DNF

A few of years ago I made a post about DNFing called To DNF or Not to DNF, and I thought it was time to revisit it. Why? Just to see if my thoughts on it have changed. And, ooh boy, if I didn’t believe in DNFing before I certainly do now. After joining Booktube a couple years ago, there were some books I gave into the hype and read. Let me tell you, I should’ve heeded Jenny’s advice and run. 


Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this post, let me first talk about what DNFing is. If you’re in the bookish community (i.e. a Blogger, Booktuber, Bookstagrammer, etc.) you probably already know what it means, so feel free to skip this part. DNF stands for Did Not Finish. You know you’re reading a book and you’re just not into it. So, you make a deliberate decision not to finish the book. Never to pick it up again. It’s going in the donate bin.  There could be lots of reasons why you decide to DNF a book:

  • their own mental health
  • overall not enjoying the reading experience
  • triggers
  • writing style
  • plot
  • you’re not connecting with the characters
  • offensive
  • representation, etc.

However, there are lots of folks out there that will never DNF a book. I like to call them completionists, and I get it. Once upon a time in a not so distant past I, too, was a completionist. I would slog through to end and more often than not end up in a reading slump. Yay me!

yay me

There are many reasons people choose to finish a book they’re not enjoying:

  • thinking it’ll get better
  • if they buy it and DNF it, they consider it a wast of money
  • some feel they can’t review a book without having read it
  • yearly reading goals

After having my fair share of disappointing reads, I said ENOUGH. There are entirely too many good books out there for me to read rather than waste my time on a book I’m not enjoying. And, thus began my journey to allowing myself to DNF without feeling guilty.

Why I DNF? & When?

In my previous post, I said I was a huge mood reader. And after a rather unscientific experiment, I have concluded that this my friends is NOT true. I read anything, anytime. Sometimes I go through phases where I want to read nothing but mystery/thriller, science fiction/fantasy, general fiction – you get the gist. But all- in-all, I pick up whatever the next book on the pile is. Anyway, I went through all of that rigmarole to say I don’t DNF because I’m a mood reader. This will come up a little later, though.

The main reasons why I DNF are:

  1. Writing Style – Sometimes the author’s writing style and I just don’t get along or the writing is bad or the editing was not good.
  2. Boredom – Riddle me this. If I’m bored with what I’m reading why continue? Especially if I’m reading for pleasure. There are so many books out there that have the potential to give me a warm fuzzy it doesn’t make sense for me to continue with a reading experience I’m not enjoying.
  3. Characters and/or Plot – I’ve said this before. I like a book that is a well-balanced character/plot driven book. I don’t mind a book that is solely character driven, but to me they just tend to drag especially if the character is static. I need to be able to connect with the character and not simply on a surface level. A level that allows me to feel what the character is going through or has gone through. Another reason for me DNFing based on character is representation. Is the representation accurate? Or is the author stereotyping? Is the character likable. Personally, I enjoy reading a character I can’t stand.

    As far as plot is concerned. I will DNF if it’s poorly paced, there are plot holes, there is no plot or it’s convoluted, it’s cliche – let me clarify, a plot can be cliche but it needs be done well.

  4. Moral/Ethical – This is something that we’re seeing more and more of. Problematic authors. Authors whose values don’t match our own. In my previous post I said that I may continue to the book if there’s a learning opportunity involved. That still holds true. However, there’s more nuance to this than what I can incorporate in this post. Having said that, let me know if you’d like to see a separate post on this.

When I DNF a book depends on how long it is and what I deem problematic. My rule of thumb is 25% and truth be told depending on how much I’m not enjoying it, I could put it in the donate bin before I get to 25%. Once upon a time I had a 100 page rule, but let that go because I may not be giving the book a fair chance if it’s over 500 pages.

If you made it this far in the post thank you so much for reading. I truly appreciate it. And, yes we are almost done.

Remember when I said that I would come back to DNFing based on mood, well, here we are. Njeri (OnyxPages) another Booktuber got me thinking about DNFing with the intention of coming back to it later. (Check out her video HERE) Njeri calls it PID (Put it Down). She talks about a book she was reading that got bogged down with the mundane and she wasn’t in the headspace for that with everything going on in the world right now. She wanted fast paced, action, & tension. So, I thought about some recent PID reads and asked myself, “why did I put this book down?”  Most often the answers had to do with the state of the world or what was going on in my personal life that attributed to me not staying focused. I have since picked up a couple of those books, read and enjoyed them. But there is one that I haven’t because it deals with the death of a family member and that’s still a little too fresh for me.

So, that’s it. Thanks again for reading!

Let me know in the comments if you DNF or PID? And, if you do or don’t why.


7 thoughts on “Discussion: Trust Me It’s Okay to DNF

  1. Jean @ Howling Frog August 17, 2021 / 10:20 pm

    I am in complete agreement with you. There are many reasons to DNF, the main one being that I’m just not into it! Sometimes this does result in a PID and I come back to it later; I can usually tell when I’m just never going to love this book. No guilt — life is too short and there are too many good books out there. So I DNFed just the other day. I’ve already forgotten what it was…


  2. tracybham August 17, 2021 / 4:49 pm

    I must admit I hardly ever DNF a book. Most books I read I know I want to read in advance. In 2020 I DNF’d two books, so far in 2021, none.

    But I like your points here about what would cause you to DNF. If torture is involved in a book and I know it will continue to be in the plot, I don’t finish. I guess that is a trigger for me. If I am not enjoying reading a book, I stop. But I always give a book at least 100 pages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Broken Spine August 17, 2021 / 9:53 pm

      I just think it’s important to DNF when you’re not enjoying a book. And good for you on DNFing those two books.

      It’s important to be aware of what triggers you, so you can bow out.


  3. Davida Chazan August 17, 2021 / 7:28 am

    So far this year, I DNF four books. Most of them frustrated me with being so unfocused and with so many “name dropped” minor characters (by that, I mean, celebrities that were on the sidelines) that they totally left me not caring about the main characters. One pissed me off because of several plot holes and inaccuracies that I couldn’t overlook.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Broken Spine August 17, 2021 / 9:19 pm

      Good for you in being able to DNF! I don’t like reading books that don’t have a focus or are chaotic for the. sake of producing a dramatic effect. Not a fan of name-dropping either. I feel that shows a lack of creativity and an inability to have a work stand on its own merit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Laila@BigReadingLife August 16, 2021 / 9:29 pm

    I give a book about 50 pages or so. I often DNF because the writing is just bad, or I’m not buying the veracity of the characters, or I’m just not in the mood for that kind of story at that time. If it’s on my Classics Club list, and I’m not feeling it, I’ll PID and try later. But otherwise, I move on. Too many books I want to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Broken Spine August 17, 2021 / 9:15 pm

      I can see giving 50 pages. I do think a lot of times you can determine if a book is the right for you as a reader early on. I know writing is not easy and I think some of these bad characters and plots may be avoided with Beta readers.

      There are quite a few books on my Classics Club list that I have PID’d and have yet to pick back up. Someday.

      Liked by 1 person

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