DNF-ing Books // “She Says, She Says”

Hi friends! Today I have another very exciting instalment of She Says, She Says, where I’ll be chatting to Bec from Bec’s Books about DNF-ing books! It’s something that we’ve both done and we wanted to talk a bit about what makes us DNF a book and when we should and shouldn’t feel ashamed for doing so!

Warning: blogger confessions ahead.

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Hi Bec! Thanks so much for making the time to chat about DNF-ing books with me. First of all, tell everyone a little bit about yourself! Here’s the perfect opportunity for all that self promo!

Hi Sarah! Thank you for having me! I’ve just started up my blog (rebeccagough.wordpress.com) and I’m yet to feature a discussion post, so I’m really excited to be talking with you! Plus I’m mildly in denial that I DNF books so this’ll definitely help to reevaluate what I’ve definitely DNF’d hehe.

That’s so exciting! And yes, it can be confronting to admit that sometimes, I don’t finish books, especially when they’re ones that other people seem to love! But before we talk about what books we’ve DNF-ed recently, I think we need to mention what DNF-ing actually is. Could you define it for our lovely followers?

Why certainly! The acronym DNF stands for did not finish. So to DNF a book is to stop reading it. Pretty self explanatory once you know, right?

Exactly! So have you always DNF-ed books that you didn’t enjoy? Was it something you started doing more of one you started reading more from blogging, or hearing about others doing it? Is DNF-ing something you’ve always done?

Uh, well, I wish I’d heard of it sooner, especially with old school books that I didn’t want to force myself through! I like the satisfaction of finishing a book, and saying that I dislike it after I’m done can definitely be backed up if I’ve read the whole thing, I think? Rather than stopping a few chapters in and saying, “This book is awful.” I’m rambling a bit! But no I’ve not always DNFed books, I’m starting to embrace it though.

Haha that’s very true! I think I’ve always DNF-ed books, even if I just thought I was putting it down for the time being and never coming back to it. I’ve definitely DNF-ed more books because of book blogging, as I feel as though I have to get through a large number of novels per year and I don’t want to waste my time on something I hate. Though, I do occasionally like to finish a book I hate so I can drag it, you know? Besides DNF-ing because of pure hatred, have you ever put down a book for other reasons?

Yes, for sure, drag it. Also yes, I’m definitely learning the way of the book blogger TBR, it’s quite massive!

I’ve put a book down because it just wasn’t right for me at the time. It wasn’t fast-paced, which is what I wanted at the time. The book was The Magicians by Lev Grossman, and after hearing him speak at Melbourne Writer’s Festival, I’ve resolved to pick it back up, I just don’t know when that’ll be! (Considering my TBR at the moment, probably not soon. But I promise myself I will, hehe.)

I definitely understand that. Sometimes I DNF books just because they’re not the kind of thing I want to be reading at the time. I’ve also DNF-ed books because they can sometimes be very confronting or I’m not in the mood for them. For certain books, you really have to be in the right headspace, don’t you? Is there one book – besides The Magicians – that’s memorable in your decision to DNF it? And what’s the last novel you DNF-ed?

Definitely the right headspace! Hmmm… they’re probably one and the same. I remember because the writing was too much for me. It was A Clash of Kings, book 2 in the Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R R Martin. Just so many words…! Usually, being a reader, I wouldn’t mind. But man, that book is a BRICK.

You’re a reader? I never would have guessed, haha! But yes, that’s totally understandable. I’m also really bad at finishing biographies. I was reading Alexander Hamilton’s one but it was massive! I think those books are the ones you’re meant to read in bits and pieces though – at least, that’s what I keep telling myself! So what do you think about the whole psychology of DNF-ing? Does it make you feel bad for not finishing the book, or are you more of a “good riddance” kind of person when you DNF?

Okay I only feel bad if somebody lent me a book and I have to hand it back to them in a meek “I’mSorryIDidn’tFinishIt” kind of way! And yes, wow, biographies are hefty like Clash of Kings. Definitely a coffee table book that’s read leisurely rather than in one sitting!

I’ve not been a “good riddance” type of person (at least not YET) with the books I’ve DNF’d. I have kept them and do plan on finishing – i feel my case is definitely of the “mood reader” variety – so I’ll pick them up again eventually. How about you? ARE YOU RIDDLED WITH GUILT?

Haha! Surprisingly, I haven’t ever felt really guilty about not finishing a book. Either I’m an emotionless husk, or I believe that boring books aren’t worth my precious time on Earth. I do occasionally feel a little bad about not finishing a book if it was a review copy, but if you have to DNF, you have to DNF. Don’t push yourself into finishing something that will put you into a slump or you’ll hate it for the entire time you’re reading it. Is it strange that I feel a weird sort of satisfaction when I DNF a terrible book by throwing it at a wall?

Ha, nah you’re not an emotionless husk, just a ruthless Slytherin. 😉

Yeah, I feel bad about not finishing review books too, but also, if they’re being sent for an honest opinion… isn’t a solid DNF pretty honest in itself? Can’t get more honest than “NOPE”.

I’d feel bad for the wall. HA. I have actually never thrown a book! I have fumed at one though. Is there a book you’ve DNF’d that you thought you’d love? I definitely thought I’d LOVE The Magicians, but I think I was quite disappointed by it. Others I’ve disliked, I’ve read right through. Like a vehement hate read, haha!

It must just be my Slytherin ways then! And yes, I’d say that writing about how you DNF-ed a book is brutally honest! I think the most disappointing DNF for me was Caraval. I’d been excited to get my hands on a copy of that book for months, the hype was insane, and everyone seemed to be adoring it. So I was really disappointed to find that I wanted to DNF it! Alas, then I read the whole thing completely and while I liked the ending, I know I wouldn’t have missed out on much had I left it something I DNF-ed. What about you? What’s something you’ve DNF-ed but haven’t told the world? Confession time!

Oh man, don’t get me started on Caraval. At least it’s pretty, I’ll give it that. I wished I’d liked it more! Sometimes the hype for a book will contribute to me DNF-ing because my expectations were just too high.

CONFESSION: I love The 100. I think I dislike the book though. I started book 1 AGES ago, grudgingly bought book 2 in an attempt to rectify DNFing initially, but… nope. It’s been years. They’re just… so cliched for me, I can’t stand it. Especially when comparing to the show which I know I shouldn’t dooooo but let’s be honest, we do it anyway. I also would’ve DNF’d A Court of Thorns and Roses but it was my first read in 2016 so I felt like I should finish it, ha!

We all do it – it’s okay to admit that! And I wasn’t a massive fan of A Court of Thorns and Roses, unfortunately! Okay – last question. What’s your overall moral stance on DNF-ing? Is it something we can do for any book, and is there any time when you shouldn’t DNF something? What would you say to someone who thinks it isn’t okay to DNF or is afraid to admit to doing it?

My overall stance? Well, if it relieves you, helps you de-clutter your brain (not necessarily de-clutter your shelf, sorry I don’t make the rules) then go ahead: DNF the book. If you don’t want to do it, just don’t? I’ll be over here with my happy mood reading, my pile of DNFd-maybe-I’ll-read-again-someday books, and we’ll all go about loving reading still! Completing a book definitely helps towards a reading goal, so if that’s your motivator, go for it. If you’re 10 pages in or 100, do what feels right!

I love all that advice! I definitely feel the same way. Reading isn’t something that comes with a set of rules, so you do you! Read the book! Don’t read it! If you love reading, don’t turn it into something you hate by pushing yourself to finish a book or feel embarrassed about admitting you’ve DNF-ed. Well, that’s all we’ve got time for today! Thanks so much for chatting with me, Bec!

Thank you for the opportunity! 😀

I hope we can do something like this again soon!

Me too, it feels good to talk about an acronym I see a lot in the book community!

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Well, there you have it! You shouldn’t ever feel bad about DNF-ing books, and you should know that it’s something quite a lot of us do! Also, make sure you check out Bec’s blog, her Twitter and her amazing bookstagram!

Let's Talk

Do you DNF books? What was the last book you DNF-ed? Why do you usually DNF books? Let’s continue the discussion down below!


15 thoughts on “DNF-ing Books // “She Says, She Says”

  1. Great feature Sarah! I DNF books a fair bit, I never would I would even slug my way through a whole trilogy sometimes just so I could know the ending but now I’m just like nope I haven’t got time for bad books 😅 I unhauled a lot of my DNFs recently and it felt so good 🙈

    I have a few books I’ve DNFd like game of thrones and lord of the rings that I do plan on partying again but just not right now.

  2. This is the smae comment I left on Bec’s version of the post: I rarely DNF books!! I’m one of those weird readers that MUST read the book – no matter how long it is or how much I dislike it! The only book I DNF is Looking For Alibrandi, and that’s because it was a school textbook and halfway through reading it I FOUND A BANDAID STUCK INSIDE THE DAMN BOOK!!!

  3. This is such a great post! Loved reading the discussion between the two of you. As for DNFing books, I never used to. I would always slog through to the end in the hope it would get better, but a few years ago I decided life’s too short (and the tbr pile’s too big!) to keep reading something I’m not enjoying. I’m quite ruthless about it now, although I am currently slogging through a book I should probably give up on.

  4. Getting comfortable with DNFing books was something I worked on doing last year. Not that I made it a mission to DNF books but more along the lines of reducing the guilt of deciding to DNF something. Because I was one of those readers who would tough it out, end up really bored with the book and then finding myself in a reading slump. And now that I am more comfortable with putting a book down for good, I haven’t been in any slumps and I’ve been making better progress on my TBR.

    But it is a tricky think to navigate for sure! Great dialogue!

    • I love that you made it your mission to be comfortable with putting down a book you’re not enjoying! It can be very hard for some people, and yes, lead to slumps – which is terrible! I’m so pleased you’re okay with DNF-ing books now and can avoid those slumps. GO YOU! 👏🏼💕

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