Debate It: To DNF or Not to DNF

To DNF or not to DNF, that is the question. We thought this would be a great topic for April’s edition of Debate It, since DNFing is something we both deal with in vastly different ways. We understand that DNFing is an ageless debate, there are so many questions! Should you DNF? Should you give the book a fair chance? And what is a fair chance anyways? Well, we’re not here to answer those questions, we’re just here to give our opinions and make you more confused!

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Malka:

I am the queen of DNFing. If you look at my Goodreads, this might seem like a lie, since there are only 10 books listed on my never read shelf. But I’m going to let you in on a secret. Those ten books are the minority. Most books that I DNF don’t make it to my Goodreads. I just quietly return them to the library and no one is the wiser. The books that get an official DNF from me fall into 3 categories.

 

#DNFqueen

Either they were the stereotypical DNF. I started reading a book, got far enough along that I told Goodreads I was reading it, and then over 100-150 pages in I decided the book was not for me. Or, I got a book on NetGalley and would or could not finish it, and therefore marked it as a DNF so I could give a DNF review. The last category is a little spiteful, and that’s when I hated a book so much that even though I didn’t finish it, I still want to give it a low rating for the content that made me mad enough to DNF it, and therefore it goes on my DNF shelf.

Chana:

Before becoming a blogger I had never heard of any of this terminology before. I had no clue what it meant to DNF a book, and that might be partly due to the fact that I always finish the books I’m reading. Sure on some occasions, it may take some time, I may take a 6-month break when I’m about 30% through the book, but I’ll always go back and finish it no matter how bad it is.

I’m of the mind that hey! Maybe it’ll get better! And yeah, when I’m 70% done the book and I see that it hasn’t gotten better maybe I should DNF it then, but by then I’m already 70% through! I might as well finish it!

Me trying to convince myself

This isn’t to say that I don’t agree with the principal of DNFing, I totally get why people wouldn’t finish a book for a large variety of reasons, from the book having triggering content to it simply being written terribly. But for me I always just force myself to power through, there are times when I’d really rather not finish, but when that happens I generally take a break from the book for a little bit and then jump back in to finish it in one go.

Malka:

Ha. Yeah. This is why we’re able to debate the topic. I think it’s fair to say that I don’t read a quarter of the books that I intend to. The reason I get away with this is simple. Any book I’m really unsure about I get from the library. Most books that I buy I either have read the book already or I’m 99% I’m going to love it before purchasing. But with a library book, I need not be so picky. And so if anything bothers me about a book, back it goes. Now the reason I don’t count it as a DNF is because I’m usually less than 100 pages in. Most of the time I’m about at the 50-page mark before I give up. That’s enough time for me to see that I really tried, but that it’s not worth continuing for another 250-450 pages.

And my reasons for DNFing are varied. As Chana mentioned sometimes it’s because of a trigger, which will get me to put down a book immediately, even if it’s just page 3. Other times I’m not connected to the writing. Or the characters. Or the plot. I try to only read books I’ll enjoy, so if I see I’m getting frustrated, annoyed, or angry the more I read, and that’s not the author’s intention (and sometimes even if it is) I put the book down. For me, this kind of DNFing is much like the try a chapter tag. It helps me focus my attention on books I think I’ll enjoy, rather than wasting my precious time.

Chana:

That seems reasonable, but it’s happened a few time for me that I disliked the beginning of a book, but then it would pick up afterward. I also never add anything to my currently reading on Goodreads unless I’m 50% finished it. Usually, this is because if I’m 50% done, I’ll probably finish the book within the next few hours, and if not for sure later in the day.

That’s something that is also connected to the reason why I barely ever DNF, I usually finish books in one sitting, and if I don’t it at most takes 1 or 2 days. This is of the majority, though as I mentioned before I do have a book that I stopped reading months ago and really just need to take it out from the library again in order to finish it. When it comes down to it, it’s purely a personal preference. I wait till I’m 50% done a book to pass judgment, and at that point, I feel like I *have* to finish the book.

I’m also open to reading anything, I definitely prefer certain genres and will enjoy some more than others, but I’m used to just reading everything. If I’m by someone’s house and they only read crime thrillers, I’ll read a crime thriller, even though on my own I would never pick one up. Because I’m used to making myself read genres that I’m not totally comfortable with, it’s not much of a stretch to make myself finish a book I’m not enjoying.

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And there you have it! One of us is a DNF maniac, the other has never DNFed in her life.

How do you feel about DNFing? Are you #teammalka or #teamchana? Or do you fall somewhere in the middle?

41 thoughts on “Debate It: To DNF or Not to DNF

  1. AH, such a great topic!

    I didn’t get into DNFing a book until recently when it’s was constantly pointed out to me that there are too many books to read one that I don’t like. But, I will say, that I often feel a pang of guilt when I DNF a book. Even though I know I can go back to it later on, maybe when I’d be more interested in the story, I still feel like I’m betraying the book by putting it back on my shelf (which I understand is totally and complexity crazy, feeling as if I’ve betrayed an inanimate object, LOL).

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    1. Thank you! I totally understand that guilty feeling! It’s actually how my policy of not counting a DNF unless I was more than 50 pages in started. I needed some way not to feel guilty about putting down half the books I picked up! I’ve gotten a little better and that’s how I’ve managed to have a DNF shelf!. Life’s too short not to read what makes me happy!

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  2. I’m like chana – I never DNF a book! I just don’t like the unfinished feeling & I also hold onto the hope that it will get better *dramatic swoon* You’ve set me in a dramatic mood after your letter to your TBR! 😂

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  3. I am a proponent of DNFing, because I read for fun, but I do so quietly. I track it on my spreadsheet, but I don’t do anything for Goodreads. I always worry that maybe the book got better or maybe my mood at the time was wrong for the book, so I would rather not say anything, since I did not read the whole book.

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    1. Yes! I really need to start keeping better track of the ones I read and immediately give up on. Like sometimes someone mentions a book and I’m unsure if I just wanted to read it but didn’t, or if I started it and returned it to the library unread. A spreadsheet sounds like a good idea to help with that!

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  4. Ahh, this is such a wonderful post! I’m more of the side of not DNFing- I’m not opposed to DNFing, but I just don’t do it, if that makes sense.😂It’s not that I have impeccable taste in books, I just generally tend to be like Chana, where by the time I realize I just really am never going to like the book, I’ve already read most of it and just feel the need to finish, haha.

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  5. Great discussion topic! I’m with Chana on this–I think I’ve only ever DNFed one book and it was a really popular one, so I just moved it back to my TBR list. 😂 I also do the same thing when I’m updating my Goodreads because after I reach a certain point in a story, I’ll do my best to finish it!

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  6. I have DNF’d so many this year so far. I have a habit of picking a book up, putting it down, picking it up, putting it down. Then I finally get to it and love it. But then there’s those that I just can’t.

    Ash @ JennRenee Read

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    1. One of the books on my Goodreads TBR shelf is just one that was taking me too long to read. I started it in January and had made practically no progress by March, with no interest in continuing at the time. I would consider picking it up again, but not in the near future, so it’s a DNF until further reconsideration! With most books however, I’m not as kind!

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  7. I’ve never DNFed a book before. Do I wish I had? Yes. I just can’t, because I’m a completionist and also I have finished a few books out of spite. I know, pretty stupid, but one time I hated a book, kept hoping it would get better and when I realized it wouldn’t I was more than halfway through, had lost weeks to it and I was DETERMINED to finish it, just because. Maybe in the future, I’ll learn to DNF, maybe 😀

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  8. Soooo cute this debate it setup!! Chana’s opening statement is totally me!! I power through… though I am a TOTAL library warrior and like Malka I will get books read a chapter or two not be feeling it and back it goes, no one the wiser!! I love doing this because no pressure! Hahaha. I have DNFed a book recently and felt so much guilt about it but soldiered on and refused to go back to it. Now I need rehab. Hahaha, not sure I will do that often but one win for me (or is it a loss?!), SUCH a fun post! 😍

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  9. I literally never DNF books, but to be fair, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that I felt was that bad I didn’t want to finish it. Maybe I’m just not very picky, but also I feel like I probably don’t take a lot of risks with my book choices? I read stuff mostly in the same few genres, that I’m fairly certain I’ll love, or by authors I’m already familiar with. Which is probably not a good thing! I feel like I should branch out more, and just learn to DNF books if I’m not enjoying them. Great debate! 🙂

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    1. Thank you! 💕 I generally like to stick to the same few genres too. But I have been trying to branch out recently, I usually never read contemporary, but now I’m starting to enjoy some of it 😄 I think my problem comes around when I see books on blogs and Insta, in genres I’d never read, but if a blogger I like posts about it, I’m like sure I’ll read that 😂

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  10. I DNF frequently. I read a lot and it just feels like a waste of my time to read something I am not enjoying. I have gone back and read the books I finished and actually enjoyed it, if not LOVED them.

    I am also a mood reader and that does affect what types of book I read. Sometimes, there is just a plot or a writing style that doesn’t speak to me at certain times.

    I actually don’t judge people who DNF. I also don’t see anything wrong with people who finish books they don’t enjoy. Everyone has their own preferences.

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    1. It’s infrequent that I go back and read a book I put down unless I put it down intending to pick it back up at a later time. In which case I don’t consider it a DNF.

      And being a mood reader definitely has me saying no to books immediately. I’ve learned over time what I want to read in each particular reading mood, and I know by now that if a book isn’t working, it just won’t work.

      And I definitely don’t judge either way! I’m more than happy to DNF my way through stacks of books, but I genuinely respect those that can finish every book they pick up! These debates are just meant to start a conversation, not to judge people!

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  11. I almost never actually DNF, but every once in a while I’ll skim-read a book if I’m really not enjoying it. I still read the majority, but I definitely skim parts of it–and then I typically just don’t rate it, but I leave it on Goodreads as read. It’s sort of my compromise with myself since I’m not good at “giving up” on books.

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  12. I used to power through books as well buuuuuuuut with the many books I want to read I didn’t find it practical for me. I also can’t leave a book for too long in between haha

    I think I make a mistake of adding books as soon as I start them to my currently reading haha so I’ve stopped that and only add in books once I know I’ll be finishing it.

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    1. Yeah, I definitely think that I was less picky as a kid and would power through. But at this point I have specific tastes and only read what I’m interested in!

      And the not adding books to Goodreads trick has been my lifesaver. For some reason it just feels less official that way, and I can move on to a book I think I’ll enjoy guilt-free!

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  13. Oooh, I LOVE to DNF books. Realizing that I just don’t care what happens to the characters is always so exciting, and it frees my mind up to start a new book. If I’m curious as to how the book ends, I’ll either Google the plot or just skim… and usually, I find myself justified the DNF’ing in the first place!

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  14. Oh I am SUCH a Chana! For basically the EXACT same reasons- I keep thinking “well but it might get better!” and by the time I realize it very much is not, I am too far in to quit 😂 That said, I wish I was better at DNFing. I waste so much time on books that are just not great for me. I mean, I’d almost rather HATE them so I could do the Malka salty review thing, those are fun! But just “blah this is boring” is not fun for anyone- not me to read, or anyone reading my review!

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  15. I’m with Chana on this one: I don’t like to DNF. I usually keep telling myself it will probably get better, so I power through. Um, I’m usually right, and it doesn’t get better. If I disliked it at 100 pages, I generally dislike it at 200 and 300 pages. But I feel better knowing I read the ending and know exactly how every character ended up.

    (I do have some secret DNFs I quietly returned to the library, too, though. Shh.)

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  16. I hardly ever DNF a book. Once I start reading I need to finish the book or it bothers me…most times. So many times the beginning of a book will be boring and then towards the end will get really good and I’ll be glad that I finished it. I actually did DNF a book for the first time in years last month though. But it was a book that was added at the end of a free ebook that I didn’t know about and never wanted to read in the first place.

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