DNFs : How I Handle and What I Do

[DNF = Did Not Finish]

Up until about 2 years ago, I never left a book unfinished. No matter how bad a book was, I would trudge through it with all my might, and giving up on a book was almost equal to ‘cheating’ for me. It felt like I was cheating on a book if I did not finish it, and thus, no matter what, I’d always finish the books that I’d pick up.

It was only last year (or maybe a little before that) that I willingly started DNFing books, without feeling guilty about it. I think DNFing is something which, when you do it for the first time is hard, but the more you do it – the easier it gets and the more comfortable you feel to put your reading and enjoyment above all.

Why DNFing Books Is Absolutely Alright

Unless you’re reading for a course, of reading for knowledge or to receive payment, the sole motivation for reading something is : enjoyment. You’re reading because you enjoy reading, and you pick up a particular book only because you expect to get something from it in terms of entertainment. So I think it is correct to say, that when the sole purpose of a book is not fulfilled : you are at complete liberty to put it down. I think it is a disservice to books itself if you keep reading it in spite of not enjoying it. The purpose of reading is lost and there’s no point on going on with a book you’re not enjoying.

When I’m Most Likely to DNF

My main reason for DNFing a book is boredom. I can stand horrid books, I can stand offensive books, I can stand ridiculous books. But boring books? No way. The thing with reading bad books is that after reading, I enjoy discussing it and bringing up all the cons of the book and analysing it critically. It’s fun, and though it makes me sound hard-hearted, it is something I enjoy. Just as I love praising good books, similarly, I love criticising the books I didn’t like. But when it comes to boring books, I don’t even have anything to say. When I’m halfway through the book and if I still haven’t formed a single opinion about any aspect of the book, then it’s a clear indication that there’s nothing in it for me.

When it comes to DNFing books, I do not have any specific page number of percentage where I decide to give up. Usually, with most books, the initial few pages are a bit boring because you’re just getting introduced to the story and the characters, but apart from the initial few pages, anywhere else the book becomes too boring for me : I decide to give up. There are books I’ve DNFed with barely 20 pages to finish, and others I’ve DNFed having read merely a 100 pages.

Do I Count DNFed Books As ‘Read’

In my Goodreads challenge, if I give up on a book with less than 30 pages to finish, I count it as ‘read’. The books which I plan on picking up later (if I have more than 30 pages to finish) I put in my ‘want to read’ shelf. Everything else, I remove completely from my shelves. I really wish in the future, Goodreads comes up with a default ‘DNF’ shelf, it would make so many lives easier!

Do I Rate DNFed Books?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong about rating DNFed books. A lot of people feel quiet strongly about rating DNFed books, but I think it’s totally fine! Clearly, if you DNFed the book, you found something wrong with it and I think that gives you complete right to rate the book. Normally, if you finish a book and don’t like it, you’d give it a low rating anyway! And since you DNFed it, you didn’t like it, right? Then I don’t see anything wrong with rating DNFed books!

However, when it comes to books I plan on picking up again, I leave them unrated. That is always when it comes to classics, because when it comes to classics, I think that your enjoyment of a book changes with age. So, DNFed classics? I do not rate them.

So those were all my thoughts on DNFs!

Do you DNF books? What is your sole reason for DNFing? Do you rate your DNFed books? Share below!


11 thoughts on “DNFs : How I Handle and What I Do

  1. Hi Anushka, I leave books unfinished because I’m constantly drawn to other books. So I plan to go back and finish reading most of them, but it doesn’t happen :)


  2. You can actually make a dnf shelf in your “default” categories, I now have a dnf and a someday-maybe shelf besides my to-be-read, read, and currently-reading shelf, that way you can still keep track of those books without marking them as read. If you go to your books on goodreads and then click on edit in the shelves sidebar, you can make new shelves and make them exclusive, meaning that if a book is on that shelf it does not have to be on your other shelves.
    I almost never dnf a book but lately I’ve done that a couple of times and this extra shelf is great for keeping track of them! Great discussion!


  3. I used to not rate books I DNF’ed, but I do now if I’ve read a large percentage of the book. (I’ll also mark it as “read” if I’ve mostly read it.) Partly because these are metrics for me. It’s not like I’m “cheating” something to say that I’ve read it if I didn’t read the last 50 pages out of 300. I also have come to the conclusion that it’s fine to rate it if I’ve read most of it. In most books, the last 50 pages are not going to make 300 pages of mind-numbing boredom suddenly worthwhile.


    1. Exactly – I too rate books if I’ve read a majority of them and do not plan on picking them again in future. I completely agree with what you said – the last few pages of a book cannot turn around the majority of it which I disliked – so it’s alright to rate them :)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a DNF exclusive shelf on Goodreads. Its got about 30 books on it. I agree with you on the boring books, sometimes you just can’t read them. However, there are a few books on that list that were just so…astoundingly bad…that I couldn’t continue. Some of them I did review, but did not rate. My policy for the site is I will read EVERY book to the 50 percent point. After that I will DNF if necessary.


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