I wanted to have a bit of a chat about an occurrence that happens to many readers both casual and avid. I know many people simply MUST finish a book no matter how much they are disliking it however I am not one of those people. A book that I dislike can put me into a severe reading slump and said slumps could last months, I once had a case that lasted 3 years. It was terrible.
So I wanted to discuss what, for me, causes me to DNF a book.
- Lack of Interest. This is a fairly straight forward one and it’s the most positive one. Certain books I think I might like but I get 20-50 pages in and I realize this is not my cup of tea. It’s really not a case of the book being bad but more a case it not being the right book for me. When this happens I don’t technically mark it as a DNF, I just remove it from my GoodReads shelves.
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. This book made me realize that I do not enjoy Urban Fantasy the way I thought I did. I think I read 25% and then put it down.
- Un-Engaging Main Characters. This is a big one for me however it doesn’t automatically make me DNF a book, if the plot is solid and the supporting characters are great I will stick with it. However, if like many new adults books, the novel centers around the relationship between the two MCs and they are either annoying or bland I will find myself disconnected from the book. This slugs down my reading until halfway I put it down and DNF it. I seldom ‘identify’ with characters, I’m not looking to identify with them but I am looking to understand them and in many cases root for them and if I find their personalities to be bland or annoying I will try my hardest to finish the book but will DNF it eventually. I have too many books to read to continue with book I hate.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. This is a sad little cliche but I DNFed the series, not the book. I actually finished the first novel long before the movies were even conceived. When I finished reading Twilight I was overwhelmed with the utter lack of interest I had in these characters and never even considered picking up the next books.
- Bad Pacing. This can be a big one for me because I’m a writer and I can see how pacing can improve a novel significantly and the slow progression of things give me flashbacks to having to read War and Peace in my Russian Lit class and I break out in hives. Now, there’s books that are ‘quiet’ books but the progression is there and the writing is engaging despite the ‘slowness’ of it but mediocre writing combined with bad pacing makes me not give a fuck about the damn journey. I slug through and finally give up.
- Example: Most classics. 100 years ago literature was different, pacing was different and for that most of the classics I’ve read I’ve given up because the pacing was so slow that I grew bored, uninterested and unengaged. These are also notorious for putting me into reading slumps.
- A Horrible Message. We’ve all had a novel that we’ve been reading it and as we’re reading it we cannot comprehend that this is being passed on as being OK. We don’t have to all agree with stories but when a message is reprehensible – ie. slut shaming, domestic abuse, mental abuse, etc. – then I will develop a sort of dignified anger that curses through me until I want to see all the copies of the book in the bottom of the ocean.
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. To read a full rant of my hate towards this one please see its review:
- The Unfinished Series. This can happen, I read the first book in a series and I like it OK but my thirst for the rest is not there. This is a double edged sword because its a common occurrence that often the first book is the worst of the series and the writer grows in ability which I very much appreciate. With books in this category I don’t always place them in my NEVER AGAIN pile but more in a MAYBE SOMEDAY pile. They’re not out of the question I just have no immediate interest in them so I haven’t finished the series.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I’ve been online for many many many years and I still recall when this book was nothing more than Harry Potter fanfiction as this was originally a Draco/Ginny story that was crafted into its own book. That being said, I read the first novel back in 2008 and I thought it was OK… never picked up the next book, never had any interest but I don’t have it in the never ever pile so maybe, and it’s a fairly big maybe, I will read the series.
So those are my reasons for DNFing and sometimes it’ll be a combination of more than one but I usually know about 30-40% in on the novel if I will be tempted to DNF it. Do any of you have any reasons you DNF a book? You find out the writer is a shitty person? You violently hate a love interest? You discover a love triangle?