Friday, April 4, 2014

Discussion: Do You DNF Books?

DNF. These three letters, used together, are something I often see cited as a book blogger mark of shame. In the book blogger world they stand for "did not finish", and when we use them we are talking about not completing a book we have started. Scandalous!

I'm going to tell you all something shocking: I DNF books. A lot. And I'm in absolutely no way sorry.

There are a million reasons that I might decide not to continue reading something. A few examples:

-- A love interest is seeking romance while still in a relationship.

-- A book is about something other than what I thought it was, or it isn't delivering on the aspect of what I thought it was about that I started reading it *for*.

-- The writer's style and my tastes as a reader totally clash, making me unable to get sucked in.

-- The lead character(s) unintentionally annoy me or bore me.

-- A book has extreme, repetitive, and pointless cruelty to small animals.

-- A book comes across as 'preachy', 'propaganda', or 'manipulative'.

-- I think I need to pin my eyes open if I want to stay awake and keep reading. (Again, I'm bored!)

As a blogger, I can somewhat empathize with why others have issues with quitting a book. Especially if it's an ARC. But at the same time... How are you going to know you will like that book when you approve it for review? If you reach a point where you already know you hate the thing, what are you really gaining from reading more? If you wish you didn't have to finish, are you even the right person to be reading it?

And the gray area becomes much less apparent when I think as a writer. Having people read my work is a gift, an honor, and a privilege. At the same time, one of the first things anyone who wants to write has to learn that some people--hell, maybe even most people--with either not like your work or flat out won't care. That probably sounds kinda callous and disrespectful toward my work, my characters, and other writers. But the need to develop thick skin about this aspect of writing is absolutely crucial.

So, are you curious to see a few of the books I've DNF'd since starting I Write, I Read, I Review? I've picked out three that stand out. (Ironically they are all varying takes on paranormal, which is what I write. Go figure.)

Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter -- This one kinda breaks my heart. Gena Showalter is one of my favorite authors. Has been for years. So to not like her YA title, much less not to finish it, was almost devastating. There is a very pivotal shift in Alice's character that actually made me literally wall-toss this book. I think I've maybe, actually, done that three times in my entire life. I'm tempted to go back and see whether there is eventually an explanation for the shift that made me so angry, but I haven't had the courage to yet. (DNF'd at approximately 25%)

Splintered by A.G. Howard -- I was so sad when I didn't end up finishing this one, but it did something that made me unable to like the heroine. She's going totally batty for her already-taken friend. I don't care if his GF is the biggest bitch on earth. I just couldn't muster any respect for a girl who is hanging onto feelings for someone she cannot have. Move on! Seriously! (And my money says they'll get together. Her weakness + the cliche bitchy gf + my theory = pass!) (DNF'd at between 25 - 30%)

Indelible by Dawn Metcalf -- How did this graduate from being a Kindle sample to a full purchase? I'm sorry if that's harsh, but I really wish I could remember *why*. You see, that's the problem. I actually cannot remember a single thing about this book, except that I DNF'd it because I was bored. So very, very bored. (DNF'd at approximately 20-25%)
So, do you DNF books? Does it bother you when you do? What things will make you stop reading something? I'd love to know! 


  1. It has to be a really bad book for me not to finish. Nice to follow and connect

  2. I used to finish a book even if it was killing me. I mentioned this once to a librarian and she said life is too short to read to the bitter end books we don't like when there are so many books we will enjoy and love reading. I have taken her advice to heart.

  3. I eventually finish them, but I am bad at misplacing them or being distracted by life.

  4. Before I started writing, I would finish every book with very few exceptions (Anna Karenina being one of them). But now that I read partly for research and to know the market, I ditch books pretty frequently. Often I will give a book 30-50 pages, but sometimes I can tell in 5 that there is no way I'm going to stick with it.

    I just put down a book where the first 2 pages had an obnoxious premise where the two love interests met; it was a contemporary romance with very manufactured circumstances. Some writers can transcend that and write an engaging story. This one had annoyances jumping off the page at me, so I quit. I have 150+ books on my To Read list, so I get choosy.


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