Sunday Salon: To DNF or not to DNF?



DNF – that dreaded point that you decide that it’s best that you and a book are best parted before you go any further, and you declare the whole escapade as a Did Not Finish

Some people stick with a book to the dreaded end, even if they are hating the book, often simply because they dont like to admit they didnt get on with a book. I can remember only taking one book to the bitter end, and that was Papillion, only because it was the Book of the Month at my local book group. Still haunts me that I didnt have the nerve to stop when I should have.

I now do DNF with an almost wild abandon. Too many books, too little time for me to be bogged down in books I’d never enjoy. Life is hard enough as it is without adding to the malaise.

I’ve ditched books less than a chapter in because of the stream-of-conciousness writing style (and I’ve flicked later into the book to find that style hasn’t changed). I’ve ditched pre-release review books half way through because I simply don’t have the energy to wade through the three page long paragraphs. I’ve ditched award winning books part way through after putting them down in favour of those 7 books I’ve read subsequently, and that on reflection, I really dont care to go back to it so it’s been sidelined. I’ve just finished a book set in Tudor times, where the Queen referred to “mum” and “dad” (a modern slang term to refer to her parents) and swore in very modern English where ever possible. I know it was supposed to be a “reimagining” and I know she was supposed to have been a “commoner”, but really!

There’s nothing specific that will make me DNF. The writing style of course, the multiple page paragraphs…..I think it’s ultimately those books when I am having to constantly work at trying to enjoy a book. Reading shouldn’t be work, it should be enjoyable, relaxing, maybe uplifting, but never work…..

So do you have a DNF policy? How far into a book do you call it quits? Have you thought you might quit on a book, but be grateful that you didnt?



28 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: To DNF or not to DNF?

  1. I’ll call it quits whenever I cannot bare to hold out for another page or less, especially if the characters are so dense and co-dependent. Oh, and when the paragraphs go on for ages, just describing someones eyes which had been done 5 pages previously, haha. I could go on forever! Although, I can’t say that, in recent memory, there has been a book that I’m happy I didn’t put down. T.V shows, however, is a whole other story!


    • the multipage paragraphs!!!!!!! the bad translations! zzzz!!!!!

      Onto the next one! (sometimes I want a buzzer like Britain’s Got Talent)


    • I was just intending to leave a comment about Pearl’s advice, too! I can’t tell you how much guilt I DON’T feel now when giving up on a book.

      Sometimes I come across those in-between books, though, that are highly rated or by a favorite author or something but still aren’t grabbing me right away… in that case I usually give myself permission to skip to the end to see if the conclusion is compelling. If even the “spoiler” isn’t interesting, why bother reading the rest of the stuff in between?


      • Sometimes I will put a book back on the shelf and pick up again later – sometimes i know I’m just not in the mood right now and am running the risk of missing something special. Most of the time, however, it goes in the “get rid of” pile and onto the next one…


    • 50 page can be a little short, but I’ve known some books (Absalom, Absolam! for example) where it hasnt taken me 5 pages to know it wasnt going to work…


  2. Sometimes. Sometimes I trudge through. Sometimes I will flip through pages — say give myself 15 minutes to page ahead and see if there is any compelling reason to forge ahead. Usually, if I’m at that stage in the questioning, there isn’t.


  3. I don’t have a strict policy but I will DNF a book at the point where I just don’t care what happens. I will sometimes stick with a book too long because I keep hoping there will be a payoff near the end but I often regret that choice.


    • “Beloved” was the last one that made me feel that way, as I knew that other people thought there was something perhaps *noble* about the book. I didnt pick it back up for perhaps 3 weeks, at which point I thought….”you know what? let it go….”


  4. “I now do DNF with an almost wild abandon. Too many books, too little time for me to be bogged down in books I’d never enjoy. Life is hard enough as it is without adding to the malaise.” Well, while I don’t know about the “wild abandon” part, I do know, and agree with, the other two sentences. I’m a member usually of the 50-page rule too, but I’ve been known to go over that and still abandon it, case in point this week a book called The Marshmallow Test, which I abandoned after about 90 pages.


  5. I will give a book a period of time, perhaps 50-100 pages, before giving up. What has actually worked better for me, however, is to more carefully select the books I buy or accept. That has dramatically cut down on the DNF aspect of reading.


  6. I used to be one of those people who would read to the end but now I have no problem DNF’ing one. I try to get about 50 pages in but there are some styles of writing that I just never can get into so I’ll DNF earlier. Luckily, I have great blog friends who will tell me the truth about it before I start so I usually know to skip it!


  7. I’m still struggling with making myself ditch a book I don’t like, especially if it is a book that is well regarded and has won awards.I’m always afraid that it is a sign of laziness on my part if I don’t work hard enough to see what everyone else sees. I’m doing my best to get over that, though :-).


  8. I read everything to the end. It’s an obsessive compulsive thing. It just niggles at me too much to leave them unread. I have long since accepted this about myself though and I’m totally okay with it. 🙂


  9. I always felt defeated when leaving a book to the side having had enough of it without finishing. You’re right though, there are far too many stories out there, that consuming your time in a book that you just aren’t enjoying is time wasting.

    Sometimes, if I can’t concentrate on a book or find myself wishing for the end of a chapter I come back to it later. Often I find I just need to read another book that’s playing on my mind before I read anything else. There have been times where I’ve put a book down, read so many other books and then come back to it and loved each word!

    Some things just take time! xx


    • There are very few books now that I formally DNF – perhaps a couple a year, so it’s not too bad. I know when it’s a book that I would be able to pick up again when I was in a better mood, so these go to the back of the shelf otherwise they just go off on their journey!….

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have a very rough rule of thumb which is that if I’m not engaged by around page 80, then I start questioning whether I will finish it. I will often press on for another 10 or so pages just in case things change. But it’s not a hard and fast rule – I’ve often given up on a book after less than five pages. I used to dislike stopping before the end but now am more relaxed about it


  11. I quite happily ditch a book if it’s not grabbed me by page 50 – though, like others above, I’ll abandon before then if a book is dire. I have struggled through a couple that I didn’t like – Life of Pi was one – but regretted it by the end.


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