Did Not Finish: 4 reasons why I abandon books

dnf did not finish (with url)
Goodreads posted this interesting infographic the other day about why people abandon books, and it got me thinking. Why do I DNF (Did Not Finish) some books almost right off the bad, but slog through others to get to the end?


1. The story is slow and boring. I don’t need superfast pacing ALL the time, but if a book is 400+ pages and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED in at least 200 of them, I’m liable to put it down for something else.

2. I hate ALL THE CHARACTERS. I like a good anti-hero, and I can even get behind a villainous POV every once in a while. But if I hate every single character and I don’t care about what happens to any of them, I’ll DNF the book.

3. A story element is so out of whack that I lose my willingness to suspend my disbelief. Example: almost everything in The Girl Who Owned a City (which I only finished because it’s super tiny).

4. The writing is super weak or does something that annoys me, like use a bunch of dialogue tags. Sometimes I don’t notice, especially if the story/characters are enjoyable, but mostly I do. If the other elements of the book are good enough, I’ll keep reading. If not? DNF.

Slog Through

1. I REALLY NEED TO KNOW what happens to the characters/the answer to the mystery/etc. And I can’t just skip to the end because that’s cheating (and I probably won’t understand it anyway because I’d have missed all the little revelations and whatever).

2. I REALLY LOVE this character and they’re in danger and I need to see them OUT of danger.

3. With review books, sometimes the guilt is enough to keep me reading.

4. The book is super short anyway so I won’t waste a TON of time finishing it. Might as well.

So! Why do you DNF a book? Or, why do you keep slogging through even when you probably should DNF it?

8 thoughts on “Did Not Finish: 4 reasons why I abandon books”

  1. Lately, I’ve given books the three chapter/fifty page test. If they haven’t engaged me within three chapters (or fifty pages) by way of good writing, an interesting setting, or characters I think I could care about, I bail.

    I still abandon books after that point if I haven’t come to care about the characters, if the plot bores me, or if I doubt it’ll be worth the time I spend with it. If the book reads a little more slowly, it’d better be awesome or I’m out. No way I’m wasting days of my life on something that’s just kind of good.

    1. That is a VERY good way to determine if you need to DNF a book. And it’s so customizable! I know some people do 100 pages, or if the book is HUGE they’ll do whatever 1/4 of the page total is.

  2. I NEVER DNF a book. I totally get why people do and I think it’s definitely a smart thing to do. But I just can’t do it. I think in the end it all comes down to how the book was received. A large majority of the books I own are books I bought with my own money. So I feel like I need to read them all because I paid for them otherwise it was a waste of my money. Even if I don’t like it, it’s better to have given it a chance and read it all than not. If it’s free from a giveaway or something? I don’t have the need to continue reading like I do with my purchased books, but I still get overwhelmed by the what-ifs. What if it gets good right after this? What if some big twist is coming? What if the ending is the best part? And I just feel like I have to keep reading. I know, there’s something wrong in my brain 😉

    1. I can definitely understand not wanting to DNF something you spent money on. It’s happened to me many times! (It’s also why I mostly borrow things from the library now, lol.)

  3. I saw that infographic too! I have it queued on my blog for publishing for the next Wordless Wednesday. By then it might be old news huh!

    I don’t really have a problem finishing books. Usually, there is something to intrigue me one way or the other. I do have a starting problem though. I currently have Atlas Shrugged on my shelf that I wanted to read for The Classics Club and it’s so fat that I am intimidated to even start.

  4. I think the most common thing for me is if I’m having trouble getting through the book, and then I read the end and find that the ending doesn’t seem worth plowing through all the rest of the pages that there are. (People hate it when I say that — but it’s also true that reading the end sometimes gives me new momentum to continue a book I hadn’t been enjoying previously.)

    But also if a book just seems punishingly depressing, and I don’t see any prospect of its getting any cheerier, I’ll sometimes give it up. That just happened with Between Shades of Gray. I could not take it anymore. 🙁

    1. I’ve sometimes skipped to the end! Mostly because if I KNOW I’m going to DNF a book I sometimes want to see how one plotpoint worked it way out; occasionally this backfires, though, because I’ll read the end, not understand anything, and then I’m forced to continue reading the book anyway.

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