Tea and Biscuits Book Discussion: Is It Okay to DNF

Posted May 9, 2016 by Loverofromance in Tea and Biscuits Discussions / 23 Comments

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So lately I have been thinking about DNF when it comes to reading and how much I have changed over the years. When I first started reading romance, I NEVER put away a book without finishing it. Of course, back then I never had any problems with getting engaged in a story, so it wasn’t much of a problem. And life back then was less stressful than it is now and I had way more free time. Now with life such as work and school and other responsibilities can wear on you if you let it. Over the past couple years, I have learned ways to help me be more engaged in a story. But there are elements when it comes to reading that you have to take into consideration.

Authors Writing Style 

Sometimes it can take someone a while to get used to the various writing styles that are out there. And there are quite a few out there that authors use. I am probably more picky about this than I ever remember being. There are some authors where there older books are much more fun to read than their more recent writings. And sometimes the opposite is true. When I find a writing style that is easily to be engaged it than, almost guaranteed I will fall in love with the story. The style of an author can determine your enjoyment of a story—not always but this is the case for me in most cases. Because if the author is talented enough they can take any plot or character and make the reader fall in love no matter the circumstance.

Surroundings of Reader 

If there are any distractions surrounding you, than this may be hard to get engaged into a story. It can be just about anything, loud noises, headaches, sickness, lack of sleep or even lack of healthy nutrition can be a cause. I have found if I have a headache or I am sick or not feeling well I have a more challenging time while reading.

Plot or Characterizations 

Now this can play a huge role, and its all dependent on what the reader likes or doesn’t like to read. Such as myself, I prefer romantic elements in any books I read, even if its a smaller type as long as there is some love story with a form of happy ending than I will read it. But there are some circumstances that I have a harder time such as affairs or cheating (which is the one set up I have a harder time with than any other) but it also depends on the circumstances surrounding it. Other times its a certain character that I have a hard time with. It can be either the hero or heroine. It usually is an aspect to their personality or the way they treat the other in a negative way that I can have a hard time with. But its rare for me to put down a book based on one character but it has happened once or twice.

So I have set certain rules for myself as far as what I will do when it comes to a book I can’t read and have no choice but to put it down. I do want to express how much I despise having to DNF especially since I never used to. At times I think something is wrong with myself and there have been a couple of times that it was either due to being too tired or having a bad headache for a couple days. But 90 percent of the time, it is because of not being able to get into a story. Many who know me, know what a big importance this is for me. But one rule I go by, is I give myself 100 pages before I put any book down!! Because sometimes I have picked up a book and it can take between 50 to the 100th page mark to get into it, and found a treasure of a read. Other times if I can’t get into it, I just set it aside for a later date if I want to try it again someday or try it with audio (this has helped me a couple of times. But I do think its important, that if you need to—set the book aside. There are so many great books out there, and iin my mind it can be a waste of time reading a book you have to practically force yourself to enjoy. No fun for anyone.

Books I wish I hadn’t had to DNF 

 

  • Those are factors that I understand and pretty much are ones for me, too. I struggled long and hard before I DNF’d my first book. Now, it’s still not easy, but I try to remember that I have many more to read and need to stop if I’m not enjoying the story. Added to your list, I am touchy about angst if it feels like it is just there to whip up unnecessary conflict and I tend not to like love triangles particularly if, again, it’s just there to cause extra conflict with no other purpose. I also get bored if there is a lot of telling and not showing like when one of the characters gets stuck up inside their own head too much.
    But probably a huge factor (which is on me) when I set a book aside is mood. Plain and simple. I have a small stack of books that I marked for trying again later and didn’t rate because I just wasn’t in the mood and craved something else at the time.
    I see one in your group that I DNF’d. I didn’t care for the Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress, either.

    • oh glad to know we have some similar agreements about DNfing. Its never been easy for me to DNF either, in fact its the worst feeling ever while reading. I don’t mind some angst, but it depends on how intense it is. Most times its okay, but if the couple practically are mean to each other the whole time I have a hard time with that. Love triangles—it depends on how they are written though. Some authors can do them well and others not so much. Mood is huge or even not being able to get into a story. I am so glad someone else didn’t like Secrets of Scandalous Heiress either. I had the hardest time getting into it and I just had to set it aside. It was one of those books I wanted to enjoy but couldn’t. Boy was that frustrating.

  • Why shouldn’t it be ok to DNF a book? If you want to, then do so.
    It’s easy for me to say something like that because I have never forced myself to finish a book I don’t enjoy. Reading is an activity I do to have a good time, reading a book I don’t like doesn’t fit to that. So yes, I DNF books and don’t feel bad about it.

    • I guess for me sometimes I really want to like a book but can’t and at times I feel a bit guilty, over a couple of them in the past, but it has been good to DNF over the years. Helps you realize how important it is to enjoy what you read and not waste precious time on books you don’t like.

  • I rarely DNF books. When I do, it usually because of bad writing or annoying characters. I don’t like it when an author tries to make me feel something for a character who I don’t like. I also don’t have the patience for bad writing where there are so many good books out there. I try not to feel bad about DNFing, but I usually do.

    • oh yes, there are so many GOOD books out there, so it can be hard to DNF at times, especially when its a book you want to enjoy but CAN’t. It can be very frustrating at times. But yeah for me mostly its usually writing I can’t get engaged with at all.

  • Carol Cork

    I agree with you that there is no point in struggling with a book that you are not truly engaged in, especially when there are so many other wonderful books out there. Nowadays, I only read books by my favourite authors or books which have been recommended by trusted friends and so I haven’t found a book I didn’t finish.

    • Thats good for you to do that!!! But sometimes I have found a old favorite author writing style can change with time like for example Suzanne Enoch, one of her more recent series, I had a hard time getting into, but her highlander series I have loved so it can vary but you know me…I like to try out new authors, you never know if you will find a jewel.

  • I definitely DNF books. I do not feel like i have to finish a book if I started it. However, if I’ve read a lot of the book. More than halfway, then I will probably finish it because I feel like I’ve invested enough of my time.

    While it can very depending on the book, and what makes me not want to finish a book, generally I do this.

    I give myself 50 pages. If I’m still not into it, then I put it aside, knowing that I can always come back to it another time. Nancy Pearl, who is this sort of Readers’ Advisory Librarian Superstar (in library land, anyway) gave this advice. And, she says for every year you’re over 50, you get to take off a page. So if you’re 52, you only have to give the book 48 pages. She says that by that time you know what you like and don’t like, and you only have so many years left for reading so you should waste your time.

    But, of course this does vary from book to book.. Sometimes I can tell very early on if the book isn’t for me. If the writing isn’t appealing, or if the characters are pissing me off, then I will put that book aside very quickly. However, if it’s a book that many of my friends love (especially friends that read similar books to me) then I give it more of a shot.

    • Oh I do agree…I had a difficult time at first to DNF and it is a rare occurance for me though. But even if I am halfway and am forcing myself to read it I will set it aside, it just doesn’t seem worth it even if I have spent all that time trying to get into it or liking it. Thats good about 50 pages though. I feel like that can be a good base to work with. I will have to keep that in mind. For me it depends on how the characters frustrate me. If its small portions of their character than I will keep going. But if its a major deal to me than I will put it away. like if the heroine is cruel to the hero or vice versa.

  • Aurian

    I sometimes very quickly DNF a book, and other times I know it is my mood and put it aside for another day. But yes, DNF-ing a book is OK, there are so many great books out there, why spend your precious reading time on something you don’t enjoy?

    • oh I agree….it was hard to DNF at first, but I have learned its can be a good thing to do so it doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of reading.

  • I do try a bit more with print books…a bit more. Cos I am really fast to DNF ebooks, I mean I have 2000 freebies 😉
    But yes if it sucks I will dnf, I will not read a long time either

    • oh yes…especially if I own it, its why when I buy a book I try to be certain its a author I know I will love or pretty sure on it. 🙂

  • Eva

    Great discussion! I am like you — I NEVER would think of DNF, I couldn’t even DNF a series if I finished the first book. But now, maybe because of time, access to so many books, I DNF when I want. Life is too short to read books you don’t like!

    • Yes I agree. Life is way too short, years ago I could just read just about anything but I have learned over time what I like and don’t like or maybe my interests have progressed. Or if I find an author I used to like but her writing changes into something I don’t like than I stop reading that author. There are so many wonderful books to read, why waste time on those you don’t like right?! Thanks for stopping by for the discussion.

  • I used to never DNF. Now I will. If a book is written poorly or I am just not connecting I will stop. There are some I plan on going back to because it may be more me and the timing than the book. I may also try the audio – sometimes that helps. Still there are just too many books out there to keep reading one I am not enjoying. Greta post!!

  • I used to never DNF, now I’m more picky with my reads so I don’t DNF very often but it does happen occasionally

  • I don’t remember if I used to DNF or not before I started blogging, but I’m like a DNF queen now for all the reasons you mentioned. If the writing, characters or romance don’t capture my attention, I’m out of there. Reading bad books puts me in a lousy mood for days, so I much prefer reading books I like. I do remember feeling a lot of guilt when I would DNF review copies, but it has never affected my chance of being approved for a book or anything like that. I think most publishers understand that.
    Great post!

  • L.

    As a PR I am entitled to finish almost every single book that I agree to review. Once in awhile however I am allowed not to finish a book, but most of the time it is a requirement. Still, lately there are some novels out there that I just had to not finish because the writing, the plot and the romance were just too terrible and lacked detail to continue. I sometimes have to wonder what some authors were thinking as well editors for publishing the novels. :/

  • I think it’s totally fair to DNF books. I don’t DNF a lot but for romances I read so many and I feel like I shouldn’t waste my time on a book I don’t really care for, so than I might. Though usually what happens is I just super skim the book, haha.

  • I also have become a bit better at DNF’ing books, but I am also pickier with which books I pick up or accept for review. Writing style can really make a difference for me too, if an author has a good writing style it’s so much easier to get into their books and enjoy it. And circumstances outside the book can also influence your enjoyment of a book or even my reading mood. There are certain topics or issue in books which if they are there it makes it harder for me to enjoy the book. if only one thing doesn’t work for me other might be able to compensate for it, but sometimes many things don’t work for me and then I usually decide to DNF. I actually just had a DNF this week.

    I don’t have a set amount of pages, usually when I don’t feel like reading or I have to force myself to pick up the book and read I know it’s time to consider DNF’ing it. With my latest book I had the chance to ask someone who had already read it if the thing I didn’t like disappeared later and she said it didn’t, so then I decided I probably wouldn’t change my opinion and DNF’d it. I also feel bad when DNFíng a book, but sometimes it’s better than struggling through a book you don’t enjoy. I also had some books which started off meh and got better later, but not always. It’s hard to decide when to DNF as you never know if it gets better later. Greta post!

  • I have become ruthless about DNFing. One day I found myself working hard to finish a book and I was literally just turning pages. My mind had checked out. The moment I become like that, I’m done with a book, I think. I can’t imagine wasting my time like that again.