Discussion | DNFing books + some books I started but never finished and why

I am quite critical about some books, because if I’m going to read it, it has to be entertaining. Or at the very least I should have some form of motivation to finish it. That can be because I think it’s funny or smart or that I can learn something from it, but that last one pretty much only applies to non-fiction. Lately, I’ve been DNF’ing (iow: not finishing) quite a few books and I wanted to talk a little about why I DNF books and why specifically these ones.

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Ever since forever, I’ve been reading books and trying to finish them, despite sometimes not enjoying them. That costs me a lot of time and also a little bit of my sanity. Because what’s the point in forcing myself to finish books if I don’t like them? I’ve been putting myself through books I didn’t like just because I couldn’t find a good enough reason not to read it. As you’re reading this you probably realize the same thing as I did: not enjoying something IS a reason. And it’s a reason good enough for me now, but it wasn’t always.

I think in the past year or so I would have DNFed so many more books if I didn’t have that pressure to finish books on me. Because whenever I didn’t feel like reading something, there’s this small voice at the back of my mind telling me I need to finish it, because I started it. That little voice expects me to finish it, despite not liking it. I don’t know how I managed to get through books like Great Expectations (aka the boringest book ever), but apparently I was too stubborn to give up.

I used to have this notion that if I started a series, I needed to finish that series, no matter what. If I bought one book in the series, I needed the others. And I’ve kind of let go of that idea, because a) it’s ridiculous and b) sometimes books just aren’t good. I guess my mind is just a weird place and it doesn’t make sense but I think there are probably people out here that relate to this.

There’s this concept in behavioural economics called the sunk cost fallacy, which states that once people have invested in something, their decisions often tend to skew. The value of options (in this case reading vs. not reading) depends on how much you’ve invested already instead of the actual value of the options. You’ve already bought a book, you’ve already read 50 pages, those are both investments you made, so now you tend to continue to read because not continuing feels like a loss. While this makes no sense because continuing reading this book will only cost you more (time) and probably no enjoyment. Like I said, the mind is a weird place.

Anyway, not DNFing books because I’ve invested time is not helping anyone and we should all just read books we love 🙂

divider simpleSome books I DNFed and why

Invictus by Ryan Graudininvictus ryan graudin

I didn’t finish Invictus, and it took me weeks to finally admit to myself I wasn’t ever going to finish it. I had been “reading” it for weeks, but in fact, I just kept putting it down and not finding the motivation to pick it back up again. There was nothing wrong with Invictus, it wasn’t exceptionally bad, it wasn’t exceptionally good either. Some aspects weren’t really my thing, but for the most part I enjoyed it. But I just couldn’t get myself to pick it up and when I did, I read one chapter and put it back down.

 

The Right Thing To Do At The Time by Dov Zeller

the right thing to do at the time dov zeller

 

This is another one of those books that I actually quite liked. The characters were okay and I liked the dialogue a lot but when it came down to the actual story and the writing style, I just found it to be very confusing and forgettable. The premise was great and I had high expectations, but it just didn’t meet those expectations. And after all, there are plenty of other books out there I can read and do love.

 

 

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

Image result for how to be a woman

I read one essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about feminism and I got hungry for more. I found this book on scribt and decided to read it, because I remembered some booktubers recommending this to me when I wanted to read more feminist books. I hadn’t heard anything else about How To Be A Woman, but I knew it was a memoir. I read the first chapter and found it really fascinating, though some of the conclusions the author came to seemed a little rash. I went to goodreads and read some reviews, and saw that the author was actually not a good feminist at all and above all that she’s racist. So I put it down, never looked back.

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Do you often DNF books? What’s the last book you DNFed and why did you? What’s a book you dragged yourself through despite not even liking it?

52 thoughts on “Discussion | DNFing books + some books I started but never finished and why

  1. I used to do that same thing with series. I would hold off until the very last book even if I hated the books. I guess it’s just stubbornness as well as a little glint of hope that the series will somehow magically get better. It – never really does. I still try and finish all of the books that I read, though. Although I have such a difficult time with classics so I usually don’t even start them in the first place cause I know that it’ll end up being a struggle for me. Good to know that last person is a racist – and not even a feminist?? WHAT EVEN

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    1. Haha yeah I did that with Red Queen but after hating the second book so much I realized there was no point. I try to finish books but if I don’t feel like it, I don’t want to force it.
      Yeah I was looking through some goodreads reviews and came across some nasty stuff… If she’s a feminist, she’s quite a terrible one. I’m glad I didn’t buy her book.

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  2. I’ve always hated DNFing books, but I started reviewing on NetGalley quite recently, and it made me even more stressed about DNFing, because I feel like somebody is counting on me for this review. Plus, I’m always like “Hey, maybe it gets better later”. But then sometimes it’s not.

    So yeah, tbh, I should be more critical because some books just aren’t worth your time when you have so many others. (Says me as I’m reading a book that I’m not enjoying right now…)

    I’ve heard good things about Invictus, but I haven’t started reading it, so I’m not sure. I also DNFed “The Right Thing To Do”. :/ It was cute, but the writing style just REALLY wasn’t working for me.

    One book I DNFed was Republic’s Chosen, which I still feel bad about, because it apparently has tons of LGBT representation… but it’s almost 500 pages. I read 200 of it and I barely saw any mention of LGBT characters other than little hints, and the plot just wasn’t interesting. Maybe it gets better later, and I keep telling myself I’ll pick it up again once, but in all honesty I just can’t imagine reading another 300 pages of that shit.

    I also DNFed a book called Meet Me At 10, which is a historical fiction f/f novel, but it’s by two seemingly-white authors and it has SO MANY racist characters (since it takes place in the 50s), and racist slurs. It just really didn’t sit well with me, especially with non-black authors.

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    1. Yeah I’m always a little more patient with netgalley books because I feel obliged to finish it, but if I really don’t want to read it or don’t feel like finishing, then I don’t want to force myself.
      Haha don’t force it! 300 pages is A LOT if you’re not enjoying yourself.
      Ugh, racist slurs make me so uncomfortable. It might be accurate for the time or something but still…

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  3. I used to feel a bit guilty when DNFing books because I convinced myself that I HAD to get through these books, but I’ve changed more to the mindset of, if I’m not enjoying it, just put it down. Honestly there have been so many examples of books that I’ve had to put down for a time and come back to a year later to love them so now I just remind myself that sometimes it’s not that I don’t like the book, but maybe I’m just too busy to read, and I just need to take a break and come back to it later.

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  4. I used to HATE DNF’ing books but since I became a book blogger it’s just kind of something that has to happen sometimes? If I’m really not feeling a book or its problematic as all hell then I’m not going to put myself through it when I have plenty of other lovely books waiting for me to read them ❤ This year I think I've DNF'd 3-4 books, which is quite a lot for me!

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  5. I’ve always been a fan of DNF’ing books, because I always found that if I forced myself to read a book I didn’t like, I would end up in a slump because I was like “but I’m reading book X” when I was really just avoiding reading it. I’ve been lucky recently and haven’t had to DNF any books!

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    1. Oh yeah I feel you! I usually read multiple books at the same time so when I don’t feel like reading one of them, I read the other one and the it just keeps laying on my night stand for weeks.

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  6. I enjoyed Great Expectations. I usually tell after a few chapters if I will like a book and I don’t force myself to read them if I don’t. Reading books I don’t like just puts me in a reading slump and with so many good books to read there’s no point wasting time on those I don’t enjoy. I’ve bought a series of books in the past and I still have not read them. I keep thinking I will and don’t want to part with them in case I change my mind. But then I really wish I would

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    1. Yeah that’s a good idea! I try to do that as well. I have the same problem with a couple of books I bought because they were hyped but I never really felt like reading any of them, but yet I keep them because I might want to read them one day…

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  7. I definitely fall prey to the sunken cost fallacy all the time and I know it. I just have such a hard time putting a book down once I’ve started it, even if I hate it. It doesn’t help that I only read one book at a time either, because I feel like I can only read that ONE book that I started, even if it sucks. That being said, I think if I picked up a racist and/or homophobic book, especially if it was non-fiction, I’d probably be able to DNF it.

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    1. I am always reading multiple books at once which I’m not sure is a good or a bad thing because right now I haven’t read in one book in days and the other I’ve been binging haha.

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  8. When I first started blogging, I hated DNFing books. I felt like I owed it to every book to make it through to the very end, even if I was crawling there. I’ve since realized that life is just too short to feel like I’m forcing myself through something. Plus, I read so much faster when I’m enjoying the book! Even more of a reason to DNF the ones I’m not enjoying.

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  9. The last book I DNFed was Sweet Home by Tillie Cole. The only time I find it hard to DNF is during a readathon. I’ve spent time reading and if I DNF that’s time wasted I could’ve used to finish a book for the readathon! Other than that if I’m really hating something I always give it one more chapter to decide if I’m going to DNF it.

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    1. I’ve never really seriously taken part in a readathon (I’ve taken part but not read much more than I normally would). That’s a good rule!

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  10. I used to be really stubborn, too, and force myself to finish a book I’ve already started. “I’ve already read a few pages, I should just finish now,” was basically my reasoning. I also didn’t realize that not enjoying a book was a definite reason to stop. But lately, I’ve stopped forcing myself to read something I’m not enjoying. Sometimes, I still force myself for the sake of a review, but I should probably stop doing that too haha.

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    1. That’s great! I’ve stopped caring much about whether I need to review it, but when it’s an ARC I do give it more chances than if it just were a book I read without wanting to review it.

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  11. I used to finish everything I started, but since I’m blogging I am much easier to DNF books. Actually I’m considering to DNF fractured by Dani Atkins since it’s sooooooo confusing, but that would be my third DNF in three weeks time. My latest DNF’s were ready player one and A thousand pieces of you. A thousand pieces of you I read halfway through, but it was so incredibly boring. Ready player one I quit sooner, right in the middle of chapter 2. I really really disliked the perks of being a wallflower, but I managed to finish it.

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    1. I can understand that! I actually loved A Thousand Pieces of You back when I read it, but that was several years ago so I don’t think I would enjoy it as much now. I haven’t read Ready Player One but I’m not planning to, I’ve heard so many meh things about it.

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  12. I…. kind of feel like a black sheep, because I can’t remember the last time I DNF-ed a book. I guess I’m pretty lucky in the sense that, all the books I pick up, I actually want to finish them – even if they are not as fascinating as I expect them to be, sometimes, I still like them enough to want to get to the end of it. Yet, I agree with you that it’s okay to DNF books when we are just not feeling it and not enjoying ourselves, I mean, we read because we enjoy it and it we don’t like a book, there is no reason to go on with it all. There are SO many books to read after all 🙂
    Lovely post! 🙂 x

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  13. Even I DNFd Invictus. Just wasn’t my thing. As for How To Be a Woman, a similar thing as yours happened to me. I read Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, got hungry for more feminist essays and in my search for such books, came across How To Be A Woman. However, I heard that the book is not that good so I never picked it up!

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    1. Ohh that’s so coincidental! I hadn’t read any of the reviews before I started but I’m glad I did when I had only read a little bit of it.

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  14. I also couldn’t finish The Right Thing to Do at the Time… The plot was just too boring for me to handle. I used to be more afraid of DNFing books, but now that my time is busier with school and work, it pains me NOT to DNF a book. However, I’m still quite ashamed of DNFing classics. In an academic environment, it feels like a defeat to not enjoy a part of the canon…

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    1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with DNFing classics, for the most part, I think a lot of them are overrated or maybe that’s just my opinion. Classics just have to be your taste and if it’s not, then it’s not for you 🙂

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  15. I DNF at least once a month honestly, I think the last one I DNF’ed was By Gaslight, just was not for me. I don’t think I have ever dragged myself through a book, at least not that I can remember. I have become good at putting books down that aren’t good by the 100 page mark. I feel like by then if I am not into it, I wont be.

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  16. i almost never DNF books!! i’m not sure why – i think it’s because people are judgmental if you rate a book or mark it as read without having finished it. & if i dislike a book enough to DNF it, then i definitely want to rate it and i definitely want the energy i put in to count toward my reading challenge!! but i’m trying to get better at reading a bit of a book and just putting it down if it’s not for me. i’m the worst at forcing myself through books i don’t like!

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    1. I don’t mark my DNFed books as read on goodreads, I’ve made a separate shelf for them because otherwise it might get confusing.

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  17. Fantastic post! I went so many years refusing to DNF. Even before blogging, my mindset was just to never give up. And man did I suffer through so difficult reading sessions. I am finally learning to let go and be much kinder to myself haha. I am currently struggling with one of those “read only a chapter each night” books. So fingers crossed it makes the cut!

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    1. Yess! That’s great! I feel you on that ‘only a chapter each night’ books thing, I have one of those laying on my bedside table now haha

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  18. Hello Lia!
    Love this discussion post. I agree with the points you made, and the sunk cost fallacy describes exactly how I feel about DNFing books as well! I am always hesitant to DNF books because of the time and effort I put into reading them. On the other hand, it makes so much more logical sense to not waste time reading books that we don’t enjoy!

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  19. DNF-ing book used to be REALLY hard for me, but I’ve definitely gotten better at it as I get older and have less time to read because of work- it’s made me reframe the way I think about my reading time, and now I’m much more comfortable moving on if I’m not enjoying something! I totally get what you mean though about feeling compelled to finish series- especially if you’ve already made the investment to buy some of the books, it’s hard to stop without finishing to the end.

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  20. I haven’t DNFed books in a while – my latest bad read was so bad I still wanted to keep going – it was just so ridiculous and over the top 😂 I needed to see how much worse it would get. Plus I was promised a mystery so I wanted to get to the bottom of that (I was disappointed, it was bad). The bad read before that was an ARC and an incredibly harmful one at that, so I felt obligated to finish it so I could properly review it and warn people against it. I find it easier to DNF non-ARCs, but even then I always wonder: what if it will get better? If I’m really struggling to get through it I give up though. Sometimes I’ll try again, in other cases I just lose interest.
    I definitely understand that you feel like you have to finish it beause you’ve already invested time in it, even though in the end it will cost you even more time haha. That’s definitely a factor for me too, but mostly I’m always worried I’ll regret it haha, especially with books that are super hyped
    Great post!

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  21. Such a great discussion post! I can’t DNF books because I feel bad but I do it without putting the label on it. Like I DNF Copper Sun (not on purpose. I was really enjoying it. I just never finished it) and there were some that I meant to DNF (I really do not like Night by Ellie Wiesel not because of the experience but the writing is just excruciating plus I read it for school). I am currently reading this book that I’ve been debating to DNF but I still want to give it more chances because it was an ARC and I won it in a giveaway. I don’t know. I’m just feeling very conflicted. I feel like we should give each book a chance but at the same time if you don’t enjoy it, then you shouldn’t waste your time. But I always feel bad. DNF is tricky for me. Last book I DNF was The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer because I wanted to move on to other books but I’m planning on picking it up again so it might not count. I don’t really DNF books so it’s kinda a difficult question.

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  22. im a big supporter on DDNFing books too, its such a waste of precious reading time when you can tell youre not enjoying something. recently i DNFed soemthign only 11 pages in because it just made me angry, and i was like why am i even bothering? im not getting anything from this

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