I DNFed a book, but I didn’t hate it…

Usually when I see people talking about DNFing a book, it’s like giving it a rating worse than 1-star. It’s the WORST thing they could POSSIBLY say about the book. I was soooooo terrible that they couldn’t waste their time reading it. It was offensive and all remaining copies should be burnt. The author deserves to be tarred and feathered and THEN drawn and quartered.

And honestly, most of the time when I’ve quite books, it’s been because I … didn’t like them.

Full disclosure, I almost always finish books. I can count my dnfs on one hand. Oddly, all of them have been “Classics”. (especially odd considering the classics are one of my favorite genres…) This most recent dnf makes five even for me. Ever.

So, this book. I didn’t even make it halfway through. I read it for one evening, and made it through four chapters. It was a classic, though less “literary” or whatever than my normal dnf. A children’s book, actually. Can you guess what it was?

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The thing is, I didn’t hate it. It was fine. Mildly enjoyable, sweet, cute. There was nothing horrible about it. I just … didn’t want to read it.

I’ll read you my review from Goodreads.

It’s hard to get excited about a book that’s primary literary device is nostalgia for an era that sucked. If you want an old-fashioned children’s book about talking animals, Winnie the Pooh and The Tales of Beatrix Potter are both better.

It’s weird, to me, to have quit a book that I didn’t hate. Especially in light of how stinkin’ difficult it was to get my hands on. I waited for two months from the library, didn’t even end up with the right book, then waited another month on the correct edition. The version I ended up reading had lovely full page, color illustrations, in addition to the black and white sketches common from children’s books of the time. It was a lot of trouble to get, and since I almost never dnf, you’d think I’d have made an effort to finish it.

I just didn’t feel like it.

Has that ever happened to you? Has there ever been a book that you didn’t like but didn’t hate that you just didn’t feel like reading?

28 thoughts on “I DNFed a book, but I didn’t hate it…

  1. Unfortunately, I DNF books way more than you do, probably 5 a year. In fact, two days ago I returned a book to the library that I didn’t finish. I read halfway through it then realized that I didn’t like 3 of the characters. Three! And I thought, why go on with it? So I didn’t. Haha. A professor of mine once said, there are too many wonderful books out there to bother wasting times with the ones you don’t connect with. I think that gave me “permission” to DNF books, but I still feel a bit guilty when I do it.

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    1. I don’t feel guilty, because since I do it so infrequently I only DNF when I’m REALLY confident that I want to quit it. But I know a lot of readers feel guilty when they don’t finish books. The Goodreads goals can’t help with that…

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  2. Oh yes! I really struggled with The Night Circus the first time I tried it. Just couldn’t get into it. Came back to it a year or so later and absolutely loved it!

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  3. I DNF all the time. Usually because, at the library, I did the Little Red Riding Hood thing and kept wanting to pick just one more flower. Then I get home and I’ve got more books than time, so I end up reading the ones I love the most and triaging the rest.

    Sometimes I can tell a book is going to be really good, but also a big time/mind space commitment and I don’t have the time or mind space right on hand. There’s a sci-fi doorstop of a book sitting on my desk right now that is probably going to fall into that category. (It lost to an Anne Hillerman.)

    Sometimes it’s a nonfiction book that I’ve skimmed and read the chapters that most interest me, and I feel like I’ve adequately sucked it dry. On a nonfiction that I checked out because I need to learn about the topic, but then it turns out my interest just isn’t there.

    Agents do this all the time, because they have to. Much to the authors’ chagrin. We are left going, “What’s WRONG with me?

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  4. Yes, I have! In fact, I think my patience toward books has become much lower than it used to be… It was quite a rarity for me to DNF a book, I would read the whole thing unless it’s so difficult in terms of language (English is my second language, so…). Nevertheless, in recent years I have DNFed quite a few books, some of which I didn’t even hate! For instance, I stopped reading Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth. I didn’t even hate it, but the goriness and violence in the early part of the book really stuck with me and the ominous, dark anticipation kind of got to me and made me reluctant to pick it back up while I thought the writing is strong and the plot was interesting. I put it down to me being a mood reader though.

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    1. I can see that about goriness. That actually is something that would maybe make me stop reading a book too. Or gratuitous sex. But these days I know I’m going to encounter that stuff, and I try to ask around to see if it’s in a book before I even start it. That’s why I haven’t read Storm of Locusts yet, even though I REALLY like Trail of Lightning.

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  5. I’ve DNF’d quite a few books that I’ve liked. DNF means Did Not Finish, but though the implication is that you didn’t finish because you didn’t like it, that’s not the only reason. I’ve had so many books where I started reading them, and I was enjoying it, but I realized it wasn’t the book I wanted or needed to be reading at that moment. That’s when I set them aside with the intention of picking them up at some other point. Sometimes that happens a month or two later, but sometimes it will be years later before I finally feel like I’m actually ready to read it. To me DNF means that I just Did Not Finish the book in that reading attempt, not that I’ll never get around to finishing it.

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  6. I have a mix bag of DNFs. I have been giving myself permission to DNF more this year simply because there are so many books out there that if I am not fully enjoying a book, why not pick something else up? Some of my DNFs are because I didn’t like them, but actually, more of them are because I just wasn’t into it. I may have been fine with the story or whatever, but for some reason it wasn’t vibing with me at the time and I decided to put it down. I can only think of like 2 books that I DNFed because I hated them so much I couldn’t bring myself to read any further. Actually, I can think of two off the top of my head that I absolutely hated but still finished anyway because I had hope it would turn around! I think DNF is a personal thing. People have their reasons all across the board and it deff isn’t as generalized as books people have hated some much they don’t deserve to be finished.

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  7. I have DNF’d one book and it was a spy novel. Now I love this genre, but I just couldn’t get on with it. I once got told a good trick is to assess at page 33 and if you don’t like it, put it down. It comes from the old library stamp that used to be put on page 33 of the book. If you read until there and don’t like it, you took it back and got another.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. All of the books I’ve quit it’s been because I couldn’t bring myself to keep going. I think with A Tale of Two Cities I was at least halfway done, actually. But I literally had no idea what I’d read so far…

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Sometimes I don’t finish a book because it is not the right book for that moment. maybe it’s my mood or the weather or whatever. If I still think it looks really interesting I put it on a list for later.

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  9. I think I DNF books far more for this reason than the first one that you mentioned. I mean, there are plenty of those that I have gripes with, but most are because it’s not really that bad – it’s just not my jam or what I want to be reading at that time. I might have tried something out of my usual genres and while it might be great for that genre, it’s not what’s going to keep my interest. Or perhaps I’m just not vibing the writing style or just connecting fully. You made up such a great point, and I definitely don’t think that we talk about this type of DNF enough. Great post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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