For a long time, DNFing wasn’t something I even considered. I always finished a book, whether I loved it or hated it. Then someone asked me why, and I didn’t have an answer. Why was I so intent on finishing a book I might not even enjoy. As she pointed out, life is too short to waste time on something, anything, you don’t enjoy. She was right. I still don’t do it often, but there are times when I’ve come to accept that it’s just necessary.
So let’s chat about all things DNFing, shall we?
kinds of DNFing
In my opinion, there are two kinds of DNFing.
- with prejudice: If I DNF with prejudice, it means there’s no way in hell I’m likely to pick up a particular book.
- without prejudice: If I DNF without prejudice, it means that I might go back and pick it back up later.
The nerd that I am, I use a massive Google Sheets spreadsheet to track all things reading each year, and one of the sheets within is for tracking my DNFs. Among other things, I log the book, the point at which I chose to DNF, why I DNF’d, and whether it’s with or without prejudice. I read A LOT, so that helps keep me from revisiting a book down the road that’s a hell, no!
How do I know the time has come to DNF?
The truth is that there’s no one answer. Everyone has their own reasons to set aside a book. For some people, a chapter or two is enough to make that choice. Either it grabs or it doesn’t. End of story. For others, it’s something about the plot that bothers them. End of story.
It’s just not that easy for me. I come from a family of bookworms, all of whom insisted that every book has value or insight to be gained. DNFing means missing out on that, which I struggle with.
But… I’ve also come to realize that there are just some books that, for whatever reason, might have zero value or insight to a reader, although it might for another. So here are some of the hot points for me!
- When one or more of the main characters are detestable
- When the plot just doesn’t work for me
- When I begin to dread picking up the book
- When I’m just not in the mood for the plot (almost always a DNF without prejudice)
- When the content is pointlessly -ist or -phobic. I’m not talking about characters with different beliefs. I’m talking about the gratuitous addition of that kind of content when it has nothing to do with the plot. (always a DNF with prejudice)
- When it’s triggering personally. It’ll a be a DNF with prejudice, but that’s nothing to do with the author and everything to do with me!
- If there are so many plot holes/inconsistencies I could drive a truck through them (almost always a DNF with prejudice)
- I realize I’ve once again been taken in by book FOMO, which rarely works for me.
What about you? What makes you DNF a book?