Lola’s Ramblings: Why do you DNF a book?

Posted March 12, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 36 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.

Last week I talked about how I rate books, although I didn’t go into much detail about the DNF rating as that is today’s topic. I always found DNF’ing an interesting topic, while I love readign sometimes I come across a book that doesn’t work for me. I used to be one of those readers who read the whole book no matter what happened or if I enjoyed it or not. Since I started blogging my stance on DNF’ing changed, I realized that some books just aren’t for me and when I rather do something else than read a book because I am not enjoying the book I read I know it’s time to consider DNF’ing. In todays post I wanted to addres why I DNF books as I noticed some general trends or problems I have with books I DNF and when I DNF. Want to know which books I DNF’ed? Check out my DNF shelf on Goodreads.

Why do I DNF a book?

  • throne of glassStory, plot or pace doesn’t work for me. Sometimes the plot of a book just doesn’t works for me or it fails to grab or keep my attention. This can also be due to too slow pace or sometimes even a too fast pace, that feels rushed and leaves me wondering what’s happening.
  • No connection with the book or story. In some cases I just can’t seem to care about the book or story or what’s going on. This often goes hand in hand with the next point. It’s hard to enjoy a book when you don’t really care what’s happening. One of those books were I didn’t care about what was happening was Exodus by Julie Bertagna.
  • Not connecting with the characters. A good plot or world building can make up for not caring about the characters, but it still makes enjoying a book very difficult when I don’t care about the characters. I don’t have to love the characters, but I prefer if I do care about the characters in some way or at least interested in seeing what’s going to happen to them. Not being interested in the characters can lead to me DNF’ing the book.
  • Writing style doesn’t work for me. This one is really hard to explain what exactly doesn’t work for me in a writing style, but some books are written in such a way that the writing style annoys me so much I can’t enjoy the book. Again I don’t need to love the writing style, but if I can’t stand the writing style it probably will be a DNF for me. I have had a few books where it takes me while to get used to the writign style and that’s okay, but some writing styles just don’t work for me. An author’s writing style can really make or break a book for me. A good writing style makes a book that isn’t as good still fun to read, while a bad writing style make sa book that could be okay horrible. I have DNF’d books merely because I didn’t like the writing style. An example of this is Shatter Me, the writing style didn’t work for me and I didn’t feel invested in the story or characters.
  • Expectations. Expectations can really influence how much I enjoy a book. These can be general expectations, like I loved other books by this author so I wil probably love this one as well. Or like the case was with Throne of Glass, I expected a book about a kickass assassin with lots of action and that wans’t what I found in this book. It’s probably one of the reasons this book didn’t work for me as I expected a different type of book, more like Jennifer Estep her Elemental Assassin series. In general I think expectations can really make or break a book, sometimes this means a book get’s a lwo rating and in extreme cases this means I DNF a book because I expected it to be different.
  • World building or plot that doesn’t make sense. Things that don’t make sense can really rub me wrong and when combined with one of the other points the book is on it’s way to becoming a DNF. If there are only a few things that don’t make sense I can deal with it, but if there a plot holes everywhere I probably won’t continue a book.

Usually one of these reasons isn’t reason enough to DNF, but if other parts aren’t good enough to compensate for the part I don’t like it will most likely be a DNF. And in most cases a combination of these points leads me to DNF a book. Although in extreme cases each of these points alone can lead to a DNF if there isn’t anything else to compensate for it. If I can’t stand the characters, but the plot and world building are decent I probably continue, but if the I can’t stad the characters and the plot and world buildign aren’t really well done either I probably DNF. So often it’s a cobmination of factors or one point that I really dislike and not enough other things to keep the book enjoyable or fun.

shatter me

When do I DNF?

When it comes to when I DNF I actually don’t have a clear cut rule. I’ve DNF’d a book after reading the first few pages, but usually I try to read some chapters. I even have quite some DNF books were I got at least 20 or 25% in. I know some books have a slow start and then get better, I even remember I book I considered DNF’ing which ended up being a 5 star read. So while I don’t have a rule I do try to give a book a chance, unless it’s the writing style that doens’t work for me, then I mgith DNF as early as the first few pages, but those cases are rare. I don’t often DNF book usually I am quite good at knowing whether I will like a book or not. At the moment my DNF shelf contains 20 books.

Do I review a DNF?

I do review books I DNF, but usually those are shorter. I list why the book didn’t work for me and usually why I thought it would work for or why I picked it up on the first place. I might address any of the normal points I usually mention in my reviews as well, like story, characters, romance and world building, but only if I feel like I have to say something about it. Most likely my DNF reviews include what didn’t work for me and anything else I feel like saying and I keep it at that. I only started reviewing books I DNF’d around the same time I started reviewing every book I read, so there are a few books on my DNF’s I didn’t review. I usually don’t post my review of DNF books on my blog, but that might change.

What makes you DNF a book? Do you read until a certain point or DNF whenever you feel like it?

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36 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: Why do you DNF a book?

  1. I DNF for annoying love triangles, instaluv, whiny MCs, non stop swearing with no plot purpose, endless sex scenes that add nothing to the story, hating the characters, not connecting to the book, not enjoying the plot, don’t like writing style, too slow to get into the story, book not matching the blurb. I have no set rule about when I DNF. As soon as I lose interest I stop whether it is 3 chapters or 100 pages.
    chucklesthescot recently posted…Book Mini Review: Messenger by Edward LeeMy Profile

  2. I DNF books for all the reasons above, but mostly, these days, because of clichés, of lack of communication between characters leading to stupid conclusions/reactions, of immature characters. Yet once I read a novel until the end but it made me so angry that I swore to myself I’d never read anything by this author ever again : the “hero” was abusive and the story portrayed violence (I’d even call it rape) and lack of conversation as a passionate romance. Any rapist reading this would have felt his actions were justified. I’m still mad just thinking about it ! It had all the characteristics of being a DNF somehow the anger made me want to read it all because I wanted good arguments to destroy it later in a review.
    Red Iza recently posted…Cat thursday #10 : nimble cats (and not so nimble)My Profile

    • Oh lack of communication is one of the thigns I dislike as well, although often it happens that those issues happen late rin the book and by that point I will probably finish. If the book starts with lack of communication issues that certainly woudl be a reason to DNF. I also have read a few books until the end, so I could list as many arguments as posisble in my review. I often feel reviews about books I read are seen as ‘worth’ more than DNF reviews, not sure if everyone thinks that way, but I always feel that if you didn’t finish people say “yeah but you didn’t finish”.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Why do you DNF a book?My Profile

  3. I’ve only DNF-ed one book and my reasons were the main character’s annoying voice and the story seemingly not going anywhere. I felt it would be a waste of time if I kept on forcing myself to finish it that’s why I gave up and went to read a different book instead.
    You do have legit reasons up there. Although in my case, I try to stay positive and read til half of the book. If it shows hope I continue but if it does not I drop it. I didn’t like Shatter Me too but I kept on reading the rest of the book in the series. 🙂
    Ella recently posted…Review: Beauty and the Mustache by Penny ReidMy Profile

    • As long as there are minor things I probably continue, but sometimes I am just not enjoying the book and have to force myself to read, then I know it’s tiem to consider DNF’ing. Life’s too short to read books you don’t enjoy. I usually DNF before I get at the halfway point, if I get at the halfway point I probably enjoy it enough to continue.

  4. My general reason for DNF-ing is if I’m having to force myself to read…then I’m done. The tbr pile is just too long to agonize over a single book for too long. Could be for whatever reason. Either characters I don’t care for or just not connecting to it or something similar. No set point in DNF-ing. Some it’s been 4% in. Some it’s been over 50%.
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…In My Cart Review–Crave Naturals Precisio TweezersMy Profile

    • Indeed! Usually one of these reason is the cause, but I often consider DNF’ing when I have to force myself to read. I don’t think I ever DNF’d over 50%, but I don’t havea set point either. I also DNF’d one after the first few pages, I just knew the book wasn’t going to work for me.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Why do you DNF a book?My Profile

  5. I usually give it a couple of 1 or 2 chapters before I DNF and it could be for a majority of reasons, but mainly the story not grabbing me…pulling me in. Ridiculous plots that include a barrage of things. It’s just too many books out there to be torturing yourself with one. If I DNF a review book, I let the author/pub know why.
    sharoda recently posted…Taken by a Dragon by Felicity Heaton (Book Spotlight)My Profile

  6. So far, I’ve only DNF’d one book. I hated the characters so much I kept hoping they’d be run over by a train or something. I forced myself to read until around page 70-ish and then just couldn’t do it anymore. I did review it, but listed it as a DNF.

    Usually I don’t have such strong dislike for a book, but if I can tell it’s going to be less than a 2-star review I’ll either set it aside a while and go back to it in case I just wasn’t in the right mood to read the book, or DNF it. I currently have a book on my desk that’s been sitting there for a few months because I just couldn’t get into it. I love the characters in other books in the series, so I’m hoping it was just bad timing on my reading mood. But it may actually end up as another DNF for me.

    My typical rule for myself is that I have to read at least 50 pages. If I still can’t get into the book and I think I might like it, I’ll set it aside to try again later. If I can’t stand the characters, or the book just will NOT hold my attention, it becomes a DNF and I move on. Lucikily most books I’ve read haven’t been bad enough to DNF, though a few I most likely should have just done it and moved on.
    Silvara recently posted…Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean (review)My Profile

    • I only started DNF’ing more after a year or so book blogging, as that’s when I started reading more books. I usually do review books I DNF, but only on goodreads so far. After finishing some books I wish I had DNF’d I got better at DNF’ing when a book is’t grabbing my attention, although I still think DNF’ing is difficult.

      Sometimes I know early on that’s it’s going to be a 2 or 3 stars and still enjoy it enough that I continue, but sometimes I also DNF at that point. I never put books asides, I keep reading until I finish or call it a DNF. I don’t like seting books aside for some reason.

      I think 50 pages is a nice rule, usually by then you know whether you are going to enjoy the book or not.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Why do you DNF a book?My Profile

  7. I have many reasons why I may not finish a book and they aren’t concrete in my head. I recently DNFed a book because I noticed it used a story device that I hate. But this is something that crops up more and more with me as I learn more about writing. In general, I give a book to the 20% mark unless I really can’t stand it right away. Great post!
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…Book Chat #10My Profile

    • I have to admit the reasons weren’t concrete in my head either, writing these posts often is a way to identify those reasons more clearly and think about the topic more. Storydevices that I dislike usually make me more reluctant to continue, but often I still give the book a try, except for when I don’t like the rest of the book either. I often DNF right away or when I am around 10-20%.

  8. I have DNF’d several about a dozen books in the last couple of years and never did it once before that. Blogging and having to keep to a schedule of reading review books have forced me to get past the feelings of guilt and that need to finish what I started. There have been a variety of reasons- hated a character, hated the story, wasn’t connecting at all to story or characters, and not being in the mood for something light/dark at the time. There have been a few that sounded good when I read the blurb, but not long after starting, I realized that there is nothing wrong with the book, but its not for me.
    I do not have a hard and fast rule of when I stop. Mostly, its just whenever I recognize that I’m forcing myself to read the book and I have no doubt that I won’t change my mind.
    If the book I DNF’d is for review, then I post it stating when I stopped reading and why.
    I have kept a few of my DNF’d books to come back to later b/c my mood was the reason I stopped reading. I’ve actually gone back and finished one or two of these though they didn’t turn out to be five-star books even if I was at least able to finish.

    Nice discussion!
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Crazy! A Demon and His Psycho by Eve Langlais #ReviewMy Profile

    • Same here, I used to never DNF, but when I started bloggign I started DNF’ing more. Although it doesn’t happen too often luckily. I think with many books I DNF that’s the case that the book isn’t for me, although often it’s because of one of the reasons I listed. Some books just don’t work for me.
      I think DNF’ing when you realize that you are forcing yourself to read is good idea, I often do that too.

      I don’t think I have ever continued a book I DNF’d, but who knows maybe I will eventually. Sometimes it can really depend on when and in which mood you read a book.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Indian Cauliflower Mash RecipeMy Profile

  9. I kiiiind of DNF? SOMETIMES. XD It has to be particularly awful and it’s probably a library book, otherwise if it’s an ARC or one I’ve bought, I feel very beholden to finish. *nods emphatically* In the last 6 months I’ve only DNF’d one book and that was Wicked because it was sooo political and I didn’t feel in the headspace for it. If I’d been on audio I probably would be okay. I try not to DNF, though, because I always hope the book will get better by the end!! And, like with The Sin Eater’s Daughter, I was so not feeling it for that one but then ERMAGERD THAT ENDING. So I’m grateful I persevered XD
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Authors Who Need To Collaborate Their Fantastic Braincells And Cowrite BooksMy Profile

    • I used to never DNF books, but I’ve gotten better at it now. Although I still only DNF a few books each year. I often hope that books get better, but if I dislike a book so much that it get’s the fun out of reading I feel like DNF’ing is the lesser of two evils.I have had a few books that I considered DNF’ing and then they got good, but just as often as not it doens’t improve.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Indian Cauliflower Mash RecipeMy Profile

  10. I really don’t DNF often, though I do kind of wish I did more! I have “officially” (meaning, marked it on Goodreads as a DNF) done it only twice. I don’t know why I make myself struggle through a “meh” book, but I do, usually. The two books I DNFed I knew there was absolutely no way I could finish them without wanting to yank all my hair out, so I stopped. One I stopped around 15%, and one I gave until 35%, and then just HAD to stop because it was making me so mad. But I am trying to get better with not reading books that I don’t like. Especially because I have SO many other books just waiting to be read! GREAT topic!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStayMy Profile

    • I am DNF’ing more often nowadays, but still not a lot, but it’s gotten easier to DNF a book I am really not enjoying. Usually I have this urge to read every day, when I don’t feel that urge I often wonder whether I should DNF or when a book is realy meh and I don’t want to struggle through. Although it’s still hard to make the descision to DNF, it’s hard giving up on a book.

  11. I mostly have the same points for DNFing, but most of the time it’s because of disconnection with the main characters and the writing style. Normally, I actually think it’s pretty fine if the story doesn’t make too much sense or is pretty cliche. I’d mention those points in my review and lower my rating, but those don’t normally lead to me DNFing a book. But when I’m bored out of my mind or think that the characters are too boring, I’ll stop. Most of the time I give myself at least a hundred pages before DNFing, but there have been a few times when I DNFed at the first 5%.
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer EstepMy Profile

  12. This is a great discussion post, I usually don’t flag books as DNF because I feel guilty for not finishing it. So far, I’ve only done three in the past two years. I usually do it when the pace isn’t quite right, and I can’t connect with the characters – although, I don’t think I want to waste my time anymore on books that aren’t working for me 🙁
    Benish recently posted…A Confession dedicated to Colleen Hoover ♥ ReviewMy Profile

    • I do always feel bad for DNF’ing a book, but I also feel miserable when I don’t mark it as DNF as then it feels like it still has a chance and I still feel the pressure to read it or decide what to do. I think it’s important to not waste your time on books that don’t work for you, but even so DNF’ing books is hard.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Indian Cauliflower Mash RecipeMy Profile

  13. I don’t have any DNF rules per say, if I just don’t feel like reading a book anymore, I stop. I have reviewed a few DNF books, but not all, because sometimes, I just don’t even want to think about that book anymore… My reasons for DNF’ing a book are pretty similar to yours, and it’s funny you have this post, because my discussion post for next week is about what I expect from a good book 🙂
    Have a fantastic Friday, Lola.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…#FF Friday #99My Profile

    • Oh I am looking forward to your discussion post next week! I think not having rules for DNF’s works fine for me, although sometimes it’s still hard to decide whether to give it a few more chapters or just put it down. And sometimes I am really not enjoying the book and then the choice is easy.

  14. I DNF quite easily. I’m a mood reader so there’s no use for me to keep reading a book I’m not into, because I won’t enjoy it anyway. Your list of reasons is similar to mine – I think the worst is when I don’t like the main character at all. Especially in first person, it’s really difficult to be inside an MC’s head when you can’t stand them. I think a good example for this was Throne of Glass – like you said, I was expecting a kickass assassin, and all I got was 200 examples of how pretty she was.

  15. I agree with your reasons. Even if it’s a book for review, if I’m forcing myself to pick it up and read it, then I just email them and let them know that it wasn’t for me. Reading should be fun, not torture. The moment the book becomes a chore is the moment I put the book down and walk away.
    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous

    • I do the same with review books, although it is hard to send that e-mail, it’s still better then forcing yourself to read a book you don’t enjoy. Reading shouldn’t be a chore.
      Lola recently posted…Sunday Post #117My Profile

  16. I don’t have a “rule” about when to DNF. I have read books 75% of the way and then DNF’d because it didn’t get any better. I have DNF’d 2 chapters in as well. I totally agree with what Kristin said, I DNF when it becomes a chore.
    Karen Blue recently posted…The Sunday Post #26My Profile

    • I think most bloggers agree on that and I think it’s a great “rule” to DNF when it becomes a chore. I don’t think I ever DNF’d a book past 50%, but it can still happen. I also DNF’d a few chapters in, sometimes it’s obvious from the start it won’t be a book for me.

  17. There are a lot of reasons why I DNF books.Mostly it’s not being able to connect with the characters or the story itself. Sometimes it’s the writing style that I can’t click with.

    How much time I give to a book depends on various things, is it an author I usually like, will the book get better, and I can DNF anywhere from a couple of chapters to half way through a book.

    Like you I used to try to read them no matter what, but seeing all the books on my shelves make me realise the week I am spending trying to read one book, could have been spent reading two or three books, so I do think now I am a lot more critical about my books. I don’t tend to review them, on goodreads I give a reason why. But each month I do an Honourable Mentions post to mention the books I DNF.
    Michelle @ Much Loved Books recently posted…Book Wars! Be With Me [Wait for You #2] by J. Lynn (76)My Profile

    • It seems lots of people love that series, but I just couldn’t stand how cliché it was and I didn’t like the main character. Maybe it get’s better later? It just wasn’t a book for me. I do hope you will enjoy it.

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