For those of you who haven’t come across the term, DNF is short for Did Not Finish. I don’t tend to stop reading books without finishing them very often, but that might be because I’m pretty selective about what I read. I don’t read hundreds of books per year, my Goodreads challenge this year is set to 36 books and that will probably be a record for me, except for maybe when I was a kid and books were less than 100 pages.
First of all, I’d like to say there’s no shame or failure in putting down a book you’re just not enjoying, or not in the mood for. There are millions of books in the world, and thousands more being written and published every year, don’t waste your time slogging through 350-500 pages of a story that bores you or characters you hate. Life’s too short. Put down the classic or literary fiction book you thought you should read and pick up the romance or YA contemporary you really want to.
Reasons you might DNF a book:
- You’re not into the plot – boring? Cliche? Put it down and try something else.
- You hate the MC – you don’t want to spend hours or days stuck inside the head of someone awful, DNF it.
- The genre isn’t doing it for you – not your usual bag? Drop it and read your fave genre, don’t feel like you have to love crime thrillers or erotica if you just don’t.
- Not in the mood – we all have book slumps, hangovers and times when we just really fancy a specific kind of story. If it’s not doing it for you right now just put it down and come back it another time.
- It’s offensive/triggering/contains bad or zero representation – if you genuinely feel like continuing to read this book could be harmful, or you don’t want to support the book or author, please just DNF it.
Books I Did Not Finish
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
I loved the film when it came out, it was so moody and atmospheric. There’s just something about the South that makes it the perfect backdrop for stories with magic and witches and mystery. That said, I found the book so boring I had to give up halfway through. I tried, I really tried. I kept it on my bedside table for about a year but every time I picked it up and read a few pages I just couldn’t get into it, it wasn’t pulling me into the story or the characters’ lives.
This should have been exactly my cup of tea, I love YA, especially fantasy, anything with magic, curses, historical back stories and star crossed lovers. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
I was bought this one for my birthday because it was getting a lot of hype at the time, it isn’t at all my kind of thing but I gave it a shot because so many people had said how good it was. It wasn’t the worst, but it was sort of slow and I struggled with the MC as she’s an old lady with dementia.
Apparently, the author has a relative with dementia and it’s very well researched and depicted (I know someone whose mother has dementia and she read this book and said it was exactly like her experience with her mother). I think it’s great that mental illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s are being represented in literature, but I couldn’t really get on with the story due to it jumping about all over the place. I might return to this one eventually, my Mum is borrowing it right now (she’s had it months and hasn’t finished it either), but it’s definitely on my DNF pile for now.
Like I said, I don’t DNF books very often, there are probably one or two more, but I tend to persevere to the end, even if it takes me months. Sometimes, when I come back to a book after a break I find I actually enjoy it, and it was me rather than the book that was just not quite right at the time.
My one piece of advice for you would be that if you DNF a book because you’re not feeling it right now, or not enjoying it even thought it would normally be right up your street, come back to it later. Read something else, or take a break from reading for a while – it’s easy to get overwhelmed by our TBRs and end up DNFing every other book because we weren’t hooked by page ten, but if you pick it up again later you might find yourself enjoying it.
One of the more controversial sides of DNFing is whether to write a book review or not. Some say you can’t review a book you didn’t finish, or didn’t even get halfway through, others are happy to learn from your bad experience and not waste their money. I can see it from both sides, as an author bad reviews, whilst part of the job, can be a huge blow to both confidence and reputation, and one where the reader didn’t even read to the end, where you might feel all their complaints would have been resolved (unlikely, and probably means you should have worked harder on the first half), might just feel like a slap in the face. As a reader they can be interesting and useful, if the reason the person didn’t finish isn’t something that bothers me I might still read it, but if I was having qualms about a certain book anyway I might now not.
Basically, DNF reviews have their place, and can be really useful, but explain your reasons for not finishing so that others can at least learn from your experience, don’t just shout about how much you hated it without any constructive criticism.
Which books have you DNFed? One series I think I’m going to DNF is Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, I’ve read King’s Cage and just have no interest in continuing so I think I’ll call that one DNFed and maybe check out the spoilers for the next book so I at least know what happened.
Until next time!