My Views on DNFing (and Why They’ve Changed)

Hello, and a happy (hopefully) lazy Saturday to you all! Though I had a few errands to run in the morning (including a stop in to Barnes & Noble for their big Summer book haul blowout!!!), I’m now wrapped up in blankets for the day. Before taking a much-needed nap, I thought I’d talk about how my views on DNFing books has changed over the years, and how that’s affected my reading life.

When I was in high school, it was nearly impossible for me to dislike a book enough to stop reading it. I could read almost anything and at least semi-enjoy it; I didn’t have high standards. In college, my expectations rose, which means so did the number of books I wanted to give up on. But while in college and even for a couple years after, I was adamant about not DNFing a book. I felt that, if you didn’t read the book in its entirety, how could you fairly judge that book? You can’t. Sure, you can say you disliked parts of the book, but you can’t review it completely without reading the whole thing. I’ve read a lot of books with shaky starts that improve during the end half. That doesn’t make it a good book, necessarily, but that always increases my rating of the book. Like, at least I found some part I liked.

So, for me, DNFing was to unfairly judge a book. I didn’t feel I could review a book after quitting it, and I wanted to review as many books as I could. I also felt guilty for putting a book down. Literally no one on the planet would judge me for DNFing a book, and yet I felt ashamed any time I’d think about doing so. I think my expectations for myself were just too high. Never DNFing a book meant reading slumps, a low number of books read per year, falling out of love with reading, and tons of negative reviews.

That’s why, this year, I decided to try something different. If I put down a book for more than a week, and found myself unhappy at the thought of picking it back up, then I would DNF that book and be done with it. No guilt. No shame. And definitely no reviews. That way, though I am admitting defeat and DNFing the book, I’m not breaking my rule about unfairly judging a book. DNFing doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, it just means I couldn’t get into it. And that’s OK. I also found a way to mark my books DNF on Goodreads without marking them as Read, because I technically didn’t read the book, I just started it.

This year, I have so far DNFed 7 books. No guilt. No shame. This year I have more books than any previous year and am finally going to complete a Goodreads Challenge for the first time since high school. This year I have not fallen into any big reading slumps, and seem to only fall more in love with reading. I am happy, even with 7 DNFed books. I admit I was a little uptight about DNFing in the past, but I get it now: read what makes you happy, do what makes you happy. Nothing else matters.

My views on the subject, as well as my DNF rules, are for myself alone. Please don’t think I judge anyone for DNFing a book and marking it as Read on Goodreads, or reviewing it anyway, or whatever. Like I said, do what makes you happy! And feel free to let me know your own DNF opinions in the comments! Happy weekend reading, friends!

11 thoughts on “My Views on DNFing (and Why They’ve Changed)

  1. As I was reading your post I just kept nodding my head in agreement. At the moment I’m reading two books that I have no desire whatsoever to pick up, and still feel very reluctant to DNF them (especially because they are ARCs).

    I know that not DNFing them will lead to me not picking up any other books because I’m just waiting until I can finish these ones. And then the reading slump will follow…

    Liked by 1 person

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