Musings From A Bookmammal

D is for DNF–The April A to Z Challenge/Day 4


DWelcome to Day #4 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post:



credit Deborah Dewit Marchant

credit Deborah Dewit Marchant

I hate abandoning a book. I always think that if I just give it another chapter or two, I might change my mind and want to keep going. But there are so many books out there that I want to read—it’s hard to justify spending time with a book that just isn’t working for me.

I know some people feel that once they start a book they absolutely must continue on until the end. I’ve gradually adopted the opinion that, unless you’re assigned to read a book for a class, you’re under no obligation to finish every book you start. Like the old saying goes—so many books, so little time!

I do try to give every book I start a fair chance. After all, there are some books that just take longer than others to get going! I’ve also found that I’m a little more patient with books that may be slow to get going now than when I was younger. But there are a few factors that turn me off when I’m reading—and if I encounter too many of them in a book, it’s pretty much a done deal that the book will end up in my DNF pile:

  1. Excessive grossness. I just don’t like reading about a lot of gore or graphic violence. I think a lot of this is because I often read while I eat—and I just can’t eat while reading about blood and guts.
  2. Bad dialogue. This is a real deal-breaker for me. Dialogue that doesn’t ring true makes reading a struggle. On the other hand, if I can practically hear the characters saying the lines in my head, I know that book is most likely going to be finished.
  3. Lots of lyrical descriptions. I won’t be surprised if I get a lot of disagreement on this one, but I usually lose patience when an author takes five pages to describe a tree. There are some exceptions, of course, but usually I need the plot to move along a bit faster than long descriptions allow.
  4. Characters I don’t care about. I don’t have to necessarily LIKE every character, but if I absolutely have no vested interest in what happens to them, I’m probably not going to invest the time it’ll take to find out how things turn out.

How about you? Do you have any DNF dealbreakers? Or are you a reader who finishes every book you start? Please share!

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

33 thoughts on “D is for DNF–The April A to Z Challenge/Day 4

  1. The most recent books that fell into the DNF bucket both shared the same fault (from my perspective) which was inaccurate historical information. This wasn’t helped by the fact the writing was poor (I agree with your point on dialogue) and clunky… Great post, it is good to have something bookish from you every day 🙂

  2. I used to read all of the books I started, no matter how bad they were. However, as I’ve aged, I’ve become stingy of my time. I have thrown several books in a DNF pile, that did not interest me.

  3. If I felt obligated to finish every book I started I might have quit reading for pleasure long ago! I don’t keep track but the percentage I finish but it can’t be more than 1/3. Poor writing, annoying characters, predictable plot, and many other reasons. I think most librarians whose job includes reader’s advisory feel the same.

  4. You make very good points!! But what if you have a magical instinct as to what you like to read and you pretty much always make the right choices? That seems to be : I have a radar telling me if a book is good or not, I tend to look at reviews (from the guardian) before I’ll go and buy it, I never (or rarely unless I know the author and trust him/her) buy one the first time I see it. It’s funny the way we all buy different books! I also know which genres I stay clear of, although sometimes with a recommendation I can read a book I wouldn’t have picked up myself!
    On the other hand maybe I am an easy reader?

  5. There aren’t many books in my DNF pile, but a recent one was lauded on several “Best of 2013” lists, yet I just couldn’t do it. It was a combination of character connection and plot droning on and on.

  6. I’ll also definitely DNF a book if the dialog isn’t working for me or I don’t care about the characters! I also hate it when it’s moving very slow and the plot doesn’t seem to be going anywhere!!!

  7. I am one of those people who will stick it out all the way to the end…..yikes

    Paula at /Smidgen,Snippets,&Bits

  8. I try to finish each book I start, but there’s a few every year that end up DNF. If a book makes me bored out of my mind then I’ll start skimming and sometimes I’ll just put the book back in my library bag, without even doing that.

    Now following your blog through bloglovin:)
    Finley Jayne

  9. Pingback: Weekly Paper (24) | Paper Breathers

  10. I will not finish a book with ghosts or gore in it but other than those two things I do try to read through to the last page of all the other books I start.

  11. Ever since I started reviewing books, I have felt obligated to finish a book. There have been only a few exceptions. The first was a novel that was so long-winded, plodding, and just plain dull that I bailed on the review rather than post negative comments about a fledgling author. The others all fell into the paranormal, a genre which apparently doesn’t sit well with me.

  12. I usually try to persevere on. I do abandon books if I don’t agree with the philosophy behind the book (Ayn Rand) or if I started the book with some idea of the book only to realize it was something else altogether. I am picky about choosing books to read so I don’t often have to give up on them.

    • I’ve finished books that have a completely different philosophy than my own–I’m thinking of some political writings–but there was a nonfiction book about inner city kids and sports that I had to abandon recently. I was getting so angry with the behavior of some of the adults that were being portrayed that I finally decided that it really wasn’t doing me any good to read a book that was making me so furious. I may go back to it when I feel I’m able to handle it better . . .

  13. Hmm… interesting conversation. It takes quite a bit for me to solidly DNF a book – most of the time I just wander away from it and pick it up later – usually to find that I’m ready for it.

    Clunky writing (as someone already stated) will usually turn me off, also blatantly ripping off another premise (especially if the other book is well done) will kill it for me. An example of this was ‘Robopacalypse’ (that got DNFed) after I read ‘World War Z’ (which was awesome). The lyrical thing CAN turn me off – but it really depends on how it’s done.

    Thanks for linking up with Spread the Love!

    • Good point about wandering away from a book and then returning–I’ve done that, too. The most recent example was the novel “Tell The Wolves I’m Home”–I borrowed that book on two different occasions from the library and both times read a chapter or two and just wasn’t feeling it. I returned it both times as a DNF. When I finally decided that I would give it a more patient try, I absolutely LOVED IT. I guess I just wasn’t in the right place before.

  14. I agree with 2 and 3. I definitely don’t mind DNFing. I think sometimes it is necessary; too many good books out there to waste time on the bad ones.

    • Very true. I only have to look at my actual TBR stack–or my virtual TBR list on Goodreads–to think twice about continuing on with a book that just isn’t working for me.

  15. I’m not sure I have any particular thing that makes an automatic DNF (usually cheating is one but I’ve read a book that involved cheating and I couldn’t put down). I used to always finish books but more and more if it’s not working for me I don’t push it. If I get to 50% and haven’t found anything that’s working for me it’s gonna be DNF’d. Like you said. Too many books too little time to waste on something I’m hating.

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    herding cats & burning soup.

    • I try to give a book a fair shot, but a lot of times I don’t make it to 50%–I probably try to get at least a quarter into it before I decide that it’s a DNF.

  16. What does DNF stand for again? Heh

    I don’t like books with slow pacing. I bought this trilogy about werewolves, it received rave reviews so I thought I would like it too. Turns out, it isn’t my cup of tea. It has nothing to do with the genre–I love fantasy books–it’s just that there are too much describing the characters’ emotions and too little going on. I finished reading the first book, then I’m halfway through the second book and it’s been there for quite a while. I moved on to reading other books, but someday I’ll go back to reading that werewolf book ’cause it’s already been bought. I don’t want to waste it.

  17. Hi ! I agree with the point on ‘lyrical descriptions’ but it isn’t a deal-breaker (at least not yet 🙂 ). One book I wasn’t able to finish was on spirituality and philosophy of life,etc. (excerpts of a spiritual thinker’s speeches) After that I avoid all such books !

    • Hello there!
      I haven’t read a lot of spirituality books–I do like Anne Lamott’s last few books that dealt with her faith, but I don’t think they’re your typical takes on that topic!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s