River’s Reasons for a DNF

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I present three books that EVERYBODY AND THEIR DOG loved that I could not bring myself to finish. I know that I’m not alone, but I am in the minority (on these particular titles). Yes, I am a book quitter (sometimes).

I used to never DNF books. Like ever. I think the very fist book I ever DNFed (back before I even knew what ‘DNF’ meant) was The Host. According to my memory (and my notes on goodreads) I gave up when I got to the part Wanderer started going by Wanda. After the whole train wreck that was the end of the Twilight series (and the awful Renesumeueadsljfasd baby name) I was really upset with S. Meyer and just felt my skin crawl when she changed an AWESOME name to a rather plain name (sorry to any Wanda’s that might be reading this) FOR AN ALIEN IN A SCI-FI NOVEL. Come on. I was also just really bored with the book for the longest time and in a moment of defiance I quit the book.

I think the next time I actively quit a book (or DNFed it) WITHOUT realizing it (I know that I’ve started a bunch of books and then just lost interest and forgot about them… they’re probably all laying around my parents house back in the USA) was when I gave up on trying to read Game of Thrones for the millionth time. I wrote a whole blog post about that, so you can read if you like.

After I got into book blogging and ARC reviewing I felt a lot of pressure to FINISH allllllll the books. I was even told that it’s “not okay” (or very wrong) to DNF ARCs. Well… in my opinion, it’s not. I know that the publisher allowed me to read the book in advanced FOR FREE, buuuuuuut I’m doing that in exchange for an HONEST review. And if I force myself to read a book, a book that I really DON’T want to be reading, am I being honest? No. I feel that it is totally acceptable to take a good stab at  a book before honestly quitting it. I’ve DNFed a handful of ARCs (you can see them on my DNF shelf on goodreads) but when I submitted feedback to the publisher I was TOTALLY UPFRONT about it. I didn’t submit a review, I didn’t rate it anywhere. I simply shelved it and wrote an note thanking them and apologizing and giving the reason WHY I quit. This way I’m not contributing to negative feedback while still being honest and letting others know how I felt about it. I feel that this is totally acceptable.

So WHAT makes me stop reading a book? A lot of things. Poor writing, boring characters, confusing plot that seems to be going NOWHERE. Cliches. Subjects that I really cannot stomach. Sometimes I read a YA that is more middle grade than I feel it should be and I can’t connect with it. Other times the characters do really stupid things right away that are just totally unbelievable. If I’m not hooked by 25% I just cannot MAKE myself finish a book. I have way too many other things that I WANT to read.

What makes you DNF a book? How far do you read before you give up? Let me know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “River’s Reasons for a DNF

  1. Judith

    I hate not finishing books. I actually currently have one on my shelf that has been sitting there for almost a year and I just can’t bring myself to finish it. It’s not necessarily a bad book, it just did not grab me at all. I’m half way through though, maybe one of these days I’ll pick it up again and power through. The first one I remember not finishing was Hannibal by Thomas Harris. I thought I would love it because of the Silence of the Lambs film, but ended up finding it too boring and disgusting.

  2. Chantelle Laurel Ejimofo

    I very rarely don’t finish books, but if I don’t 95% of the time it’s because I just found it to be too boring to get through. Why waste your time by forcing yourself to read stuff you don’t like when there’s so many other better things out there? 😉 Reading is meant to be about pleasure!

  3. samcmar

    I always try to finish everything I read. It takes a lot for me to not want to finish something. House of Leaves was one of the first books I DNF because it was pretentious and I couldn’t stop laughing at it.That was a sign that I couldn’t keep going on. Most of the time I try to finish everything I read, especially if its an ARC! But if it’s something I own and it’s not grabbing me, eh then I just toss into the “to-be-sold-off” pile. I’ve done that a few times.

    I am so SAD you didn’t like 1Q84. It’s definitely one of his more denser books, that’s for damn sure. :/

  4. Vanessa Cadrin

    i probably should learn to DNF books… i’ve forced myself to finish a lot of shitty books in the past… and it angers me because, since they’re so shitty, it takes me forever to finish them (and i usually only read one book at the time so then it makes me not get through my reading pile at all…). but i dunno, there’s something that makes me unable to quit. like i think there’s a slight chance they’ll turn out not to be shit…

    i think it’s quite nice of you to DNF ARCs and not give them a shitty review though… maybe you should. there is a lot of crap coming out sometimes, especially in YA books, i feel (like everyone and their mothers are writing YA books these days cuz they think it’s easy to write for teenagers and they can just write crap and it’s ok). i think people need to know if someone else thinks a book is really bad. it might serve as a warning!

  5. Nikki (@thepapersea)

    I always felt the pressure not to DNF ARCs, too, like it was poor etiquette, but I agree so much with how you’ve phrased it here: that by not DNFing, you’re being dishonest. I’ve mostly gotten over that now, and I have no worries DNFing ARCs if I’m really not enjoying it, but I still get that pang of guilt because the publisher did give me the opportunity to read it for free.

    Generally it takes 50-100 pages for me to decide whether or not I want to DNF a book, but if there’s less than 100 pages remaining I tend to push through, even if it means skim-reading a bit. I don’t have any hard and fast rule as to what makes me DNF either, though mostly it tends to be hugely offensive treatment of something. I can sometimes overlook poor writing if other areas are strong, and slow pacing tends to take a while to get to me.

  6. Pingback: Weekly Recap: January 12 — January 18 | The Paper Sea

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