Let’s Talk Bookish: What makes you DNF a book?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books  & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we get to discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts! I’ve listed the upcoming topics in brief at the end of my post, but check out these pages for more information on October 2020 prompts & a list of past prompts!

Now without further ado… This week’s topic asks us:

what makes you dnf* a book?

Examples: Is there a specific trope you can’t stand? A plot twist that will make you drop instantly? How many pages do you usually give a book to capture your attention? How many books do you give a series before deciding if it’s worth your time? Do you count books as read on Goodreads if you DNF them?

*DNF = Did Not Finish

Learning to DNF

Prior to 2020 my answer to this question would’ve been: I don’t DNF books. It wasn’t because I avoided books I knew I wouldn’t enjoy (lmao please I’m not that smart) it was more that I always thought “maybe it’ll get better”. But I also felt a lot of guilt at the thought of DNFing a book. I’ve never had a problem understanding why people decide to DNF, I just couldn’t figure out how to not let the guilt get to me. But after years of working up to it, I finally did it!

So far in 2020 I’ve chosen to DNF 4 books. I know that’s not much for regular DNFers, but for someone who would normally force myself to finish a book, even at the risk of putting myself in a reading slump, it’s an achievement! Is it still hard to DNF a book? Yes. Do I still push on for longer than I “should” because I’m fighting the guilt? Probably. But I’m slowly letting myself be okay with deciding that a book isn’t for me. It’s a WIP. Baby steps and all that, you know?

reasons to dnf

But what makes me decide it’s time to abandon a book? NGL, I’m still working out what does and doesn’t work for me. There are tropes I don’t like but coming across disliked and overused tropes isn’t enough reason for me to DNF (currently anyway). It might make me roll me eyes and dislike a book more but unless I can’t stand another minute of it, I’ll keep reading. Looking back on the books I’ve DNF’d this year I’ve found some common reasons for why I put them down:

unlikable characters

Having likeable characters is a big draw for me and I find it so hard to get through a book when I can’t stand the main character, or even worse all of the characters. Even in plot driven books, characters are key to feeling invested in what happens in the story. This also applies to how a character speaks — some dialogue is just so cringeworthy I can’t take anything seriously.

all tell, no show

This is especially the case when it comes to romance. I get insta-lust and fiery sexual chemistry, but don’t tell me it’s love and expect me to believe it just because you said so. I want to see what makes a character so loveable and I want to see why these they’re good together (outside of the bedroom!).

nothing makes sense

When I say this it’s more about the world building and info dumping. If you dump a boatload of information on me and I’m still confused about how things work after reading a good chunk of the book, I’m gonna have to reconsider finishing it.

i dread the thought of picking it back up

The reason why I’d dread picking a book back up probably has to do with a combination of all of the above, plus some other things like slow pacing or awkward writing. But once I start making excuses to avoid continuing a book, it’s a good sign I’ll probably DNF it.

how much do i read before deciding to dnf?

Based on my (limited) experience with DNFing, I tend to read up to 30% of the book before deciding it’s not for me. Again, it’s not a hard and fast rule but I like to give it a proper shot before putting it down otherwise the guilt would eat me up.

do i count a dnf as ‘read’ on goodreads?

I don’t count DNF books as read because, well, I didn’t really read them. As of right now, I still haven’t marked the books I DNF’d on Goodreads but I’d probably make a shelf for them whenever I get around to it. I also don’t count them as part of my weekly or monthly wrap-ups, although I mention if I have DNF’d something.

Do you DNF books? What are your reasons for DNFing a book?
Or do you struggle to DNF books? Why don’t you DNF?

15 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: What makes you DNF a book?

  1. I’m so proud of you for starting to DNF books that aren’t worth your time. I especially need to learn to DNF books when I actively dread reading them. Reading is my hobby, it should never be a chore. I hope I can follow in your footsteps and learn to put down books I don’t want to finish!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am 100% a DNF-er! Why force my way through a book when I could be reading something I’m going to love? Especially when the book I force myself through is likely to put me in a book slump.

    Plus I think DNF can sometimes sound like such a permanent thing when it isn’t necessarily permanent at all. I often DNF books that I’m just not in the mood for, but they’re often books I will return to at some point when I know I’m in a better mood to enjoy them. DNFing a book because I’m straight up not liking it doesn’t happen all that often in comparison!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am always curious about DNF discussions because my DNFing style has changed a lot over the last year and a half.

    I think I’m a lot more in tune with what books I really enjoy, so I’m quick to out down a book that just doesn’t vibe with me. It’s always a bit harder with review copies, but there is so much I WANT to read that I just can’t justify spending time on things I don’t enjoy anymore.

    Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m still learning to DNF. I find it so difficult lol. If I do, it is mostly for the same reasons as you, such as really not liking the writing style or dreading picking it up. I’m glad you have found a way this year, Dini. Brilliant post! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have done really well with dnfing this year, haha. I think I’m at 8 or something. 🤷‍♀️ Mostly it’s based on content (whether its uninteresting or something that makes me uncomfortable)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If I got at least 20% in, I *do* count it as read on goodreads and I would mention it in a wrap-up. If I feel obliged to leave a review for a book I DNFd, this is what I include: Where I stopped and why, the good & bad from what I read (like a normal review), and suggest an ideal reader who would probably get through the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t DNF a lot so it’s hard for me to say myself, but it’s something I’ve been reflecting on because I need to get better at letting books go when they’re not working for me.


  8. Dini, I’m the same. I’m just starting to DNF, although I don’t know if I DNF’d any this year?? I’d have to look. I definitely did last year. BUT I’ve been a lot better this year about picking books this year. I was a lot more restrictive about my ARCs this year, and I think that helped me not have to DNF. I hate to DNF, but I will do it. 😉


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