Why I Almost Never DNF a Book

I’ve only quit before finishing three books in my adult life.

The first was Gulliver’s Travels. I realized about halfway through that not only was I not enjoying it, I had no idea what was going on. It’s a satire, and I didn’t have a historical context for it, so I was lost. Tossed it aside and didn’t look back.

The second was A Tale of Two Cities. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Dickens, but this book sounded so intriguing that I picked it up anyway. Again, I got halfway through and realized I didn’t have a clue what I was going on, or even who the characters were. This was after like, a month, by the way. I put it down intending to finish it later, but never came back to it. Maybe in my retirement or something.

The last was Anna Karenina. After reading 50 pages of Russian agriculture and never even meeting Anna yet, I decided 800 pages was not worth it. I watched the movie instead.

And that’s it. Only three. I almost never give up on a book. I’ll read it to the end even if I’m not really enjoying it very much. Why?

I’m a completionist.

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I just like to FINISH things. Thinking about not finishing a book gives me the same icky feeling as thinking about quitting a Pokemon game with only three evolutions to go to complete my Pokedex. *shudders*

And, honestly, I have to consider my goodreads goal. Not completing that is … unthinkable. I’m not going to think about it. Not meeting goals makes me a little physically sick, to be honest. So if I’ve already invested a week or more into a book, I don’t want to dnf it and risk not making my goodreads goal.

I feel like I owe it to the author.

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Like, what if I met John Green one day. Like, I was just walking down the street and there he was. I don’t know. Anyway, what if he asked me how I liked a book of his, and I had to answer, “I don’t know, I didn’t finish it.” EEK!

Authors put their heart and souls into a book. They spend years writing and re-writing, biting their nails worried about whether anyone will like it or even read it, agonizing over making it perfect. The least I can do is finish it, you know?

You never know how a book might end.

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And this, right here, is the real reason I almost always finish a book. So many times I’ve started out not really enjoying a book, but by the end been enthralled. Most recently this happened with Wolf Hall. The writing style was so, so strange, and for the first 100 pages I felt like I had no idea what was going on. I was contemplating giving the book only 2-stars. But then suddenly I got used to the writing, realized the book was funny, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s hands down one of my favorite historical fictions ever. I loved it! I loved it so much that I went out and bought the sequel, which I hope to start soon.

So often I’ve found that if you’re willing to invest the time in a book, to give it a chance all the way to the end, it’s worth it. I love when a book grows on you like that. And if I dnf-ed them, I’d never get that experience!

Now, I realize this list isn’t for everyone. I titled this post “Why Almost Never DNF a Book,” not “Why No One Should Ever DNF a Book.” A lot of people (most people, probably) won’t agree. And that’s fine. But with all the posts out there about what causes a blogger to dnf a book, I thought I would just throw my rebuttal out there. Because I know I AM in the minority, I thought y’all might like to hear from a different point of view. You’re welcome.

Geez, that’s going to be one of those times when someone doesn’t recognize the joking tone and thinks I’m full of myself and then immediately decides they don’t like me. Oh well.

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So what about you? Do you stick with a book until you just can’t take it anymore, or quit at the first sign of eye-rolling? What kinds of things would cause you to DNF or keep reading?

26 thoughts on “Why I Almost Never DNF a Book

  1. I wouldn’t say that I DNF books on a regular basis, but I don’t worry if I do. There are too many books out there for me to worry about putting one down.

    I usually stop reading if I don’t like any of the characters. Whi wants to spend a bunch of time with people they don’t like? Lousy prose is another reason I’ll stop reading. If my internal editor won’t shut up, or if I can’t help but compare a work to others of a similar genre, that’s a bad sign. If the writing itself is distracting, how are you supposed to get through the whole book?

    That said, there have been only two books I haven’t finished this year- ‘Beyond the Red Mountains’ and ‘Clockwork Angel’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Exactly! I feel the same way. So many times you read and want to quit, but then when you stay with it, it turns out to be awesome. I love when that happens. ❤ Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes if I’m not sure I want to finish a book, I’ll look for reviews that specifically mention they end. If they say it was good, I’ll usually pull through, but if not, I just drop the book because it’s not worth it if the ending isn’t satisfying

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  4. I don’t think I’ve ever DNF’d a book completely (so far) If I’m struggling to get anywhere with something after about the first 75-100 pages I’ll try the audio book or put it down and come back to it later…maybe I’m just not in the right frame of mind for it and I’m definitely a mood reader! I’m struggling with one at the moment and I think part of the reason is I’m so tired I nod off before I get anywhere with it because it hasn’t grabbed me yet…so I’m waiting until next week when I’m not teaching all day! That’s not to say I’ll never DNF a book and not come back to it though!

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  5. I have not found the need to DNF a book often but if I do I do not regret it. I think there are too many books out there and I only have so much valuable reading time allotted to me. I am not wasting what little time I have to read on a book that does not sweep me away. I appreciate the authors hard work, but every book is not for every person. I wish it was, I could retire.

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  6. I try not to DNF because I worry it might get better too haha. I don’t want to judge a book too quickly! Though sometimes I really, really can’t get through it so I’ll give up. I do usually intend to try again one day, though so far I barely ever pick a DNFed book up again 😂

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  7. I’m a completionist as well, but if I don’t put down a book I’m not enjoying I’ll fall down an awful reading slump spiral. So!!! To trick my brain into thinking I’m still doing the thing while not reading something I hate, I put them in a special shelf. I call it my “will-return-to-later” shelf, but we all know I never again pick those up…

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  8. I absolutely agree about this. I don’t think it’s a crime to DNF a book you really have no motivation reading, but like you say, you never know how a book may or may not redeem itself. Therefore, the thing I do when I feel like DNFing is I speed my reading up till I get to the end, then if I like the ending, I re-read that book again more slowly. Fool-proof method. 😛 Great post btw!

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  9. I think it’s easy to DNF classics, because some of them are so steeped in the times they were written in you need to know some facts, and sometimes the racist slurs make me put the book down as well. I usually try and finish a book, but there are a few, like Dickens, that I can’t finish. I read poetry, and some poetry collections pick up after a few pages. Although poetry is very subjective. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I can really understand racist classics being hard to get through, but I feel that there’s something so important about understanding that society. It really helps me remember to see people complexly. That’s just me, though.


  10. Oh yeah satire out of historical context can be a pain in the ass (I once did a Roman Satire course- and while I don’t regret it, I didn’t find anything on the reading list funny and had to cross reference virtually every phrase- sorry mini rant lol 😉 ) I totally hear you about being a completionist- it’s why I rarely dnf too. And yes sometimes a book does pick up- I’ve had that with books before and you never know when that could happen (I do think it’s good to know which books are worth persevering with- so that’s great to know about wolf hall!)

    Liked by 1 person

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