Why do I struggle to DNF?

thoughts orangutan

I’ve talking a bit lately about how to DNF and books I’m glad I DNF’d, but I haven’t actually got into why I find it so hard. With this discussion, I’ve been wondering if it’s always a mistake to DNF or (equally) if it’s a bad idea to keep going. So I’ve written a list of reasons why I struggle to DNF. Some of these reasons are good… some not so much- let’s get into them…

dune#1 FOMO– this is probably the biggest one for me personally. There are so many books out there that are acclaimed or a BIG DEAL in some way- and I can never quite forgive myself for not liking each and every one of those (ridiculous, I know! but that’s why I’ve powered through books like Dune, despite not liking the writing style from the start) A huge part of me always wants to know what the fuss is about and doesn’t like the idea that I’m somehow not getting everything I could out of books. If this is my sole motivator for continuing with a book I’m not interested in or don’t like, I’m just going to have to learn to let go.

mrs dalloway#2 Because I like to persevere. For me personally, I have a very positive association with perseverance. I like to see things through, no matter what. So, if I give up on a book, I feel ridiculously guilty. It even makes me pick up books again, like  Mrs Dalloway, long after I’ve DNF’d them!

 

lolita#3 The shame– this is kind of a combination of #1 and #2. I feel an overwhelming sense of failure if I can’t make it through a book I’m not enjoying (which is rather silly, since this is a hobby, not a job!) I also don’t like the idea of admitting I couldn’t make it to the end of a book. Thus, I tend to power through, long after I should’ve just called it quits.

 

a separate peace#4 For work/uni– of course, sometimes I am obliged to finish something whether I want to or not. And that kinda sucks, especially in the case of Lolita or even a Separate Peace, but it’s part and parcel of life- sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.

 

NutshellMcEwan#5 So I can review it– this is in part another sense of obligation (though of course I rarely do ARCs and more rarely still dislike them). However, it also comes down to the fact that I take (a twisted kind of) pleasure in being able to drag a book I didn’t enjoy. And how could I review something properly if I haven’t finished it? Of course, I could just review what I’ve read so far or *shock horror* not bother to review it at all… which I actually do with a fair amount of books I’ve finished anyway 😉 (plus, if the reason I didn’t like it is because I was bored, I won’t have much to say regardless!)

magician's guild#6 The occasional book that proves me right. We’ve all been there once or twice: picked up a book, found ourselves hating it, yet *miraculously* just as we’re about to throw the book at a wall or coming to the final act, the book rewards our patience and we end up loving it. For me, the most memorable example was Magician’s Guild– a book I’m still a bit meh about, but a series I’m crazy for! If I’d given up on that, I’d have really missed out (there’s that FOMO again) so with that in mind, I sometimes push on.

bringing down the duke#7 If I really like the concept. This goes hand in hand with the last one. If I saw something in the concept and have faith in the story, then I’m going to have a tough time giving up on it (especially if it was super hyped!) I can keep going as long as I have the merest glimmer of hope (…which is sadly so infrequently rewarded).

 

ordinary men#8 Some books are hard, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. Similarly to #7, I do like to pick up the odd challenging book and that can have its downsides. A book can be tough for any number of reasons- difficult subject matter, complex writing etc. Often, it is for the best that I power through, even if I’m not enjoying it… but then, with books like Ordinary Men and Gulag Archipelago they’re not exactly meant to be enjoyed. And that’s okay- I just have to be a bit more prepared to persevere with those books and remember why I’m trying to read them in the first place.

happily ever after#9 I may have been in the wrong mood when I picked it up. As a self-confessed mood reader, I’ve had this on numerous occasions. And it doesn’t help that I don’t always recognise what I’m in the mood for… or in some cases ignore my mood entirely. Recently, I felt like reading thrillers, but with everything going on I convinced myself I must want to pick up fluffy contemporaries. All this did was make me slumpy (and make me give up on two contemporaries in a row: Happily Ever After and V is for Virgin). What a waste of reading time!

Now that I think about it, most of these are pretty positive reasons to keep going… it’s just those handful of times that I’m clinging to a book longer than I should. I know that if I’m only reading something out of a sense of misplaced shame or FOMO, that’s not good enough. And I have to recognise that if I’m in the wrong mood or it’s just not clicking, I may have to abandon it for the time being (or maybe I should just cut my losses). Ultimately, I have to be honest with myself and DNF for the right reasons.

So, how about you? Do you struggle with DNFing? Why? Or, if you are an experienced DNFer, what are your secrets? Let me know in the comments!

66 thoughts on “Why do I struggle to DNF?

  1. I definitely struggle with DNF’ing. Mostly because I don’t like starting things I can’t finish. It’s a pride thing, I think.

    But yeah, as I get older, I’m definitely evaluating what’s worth my time. And books that are a slog just aren’t…

    Great post! Thanks for sharing! x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I DNF a lot — but I also have a list of “hibernating” books that is perfect for when I pick up the right book at the wrong time. I’m also a mood reader more than I like to admit, and so sometimes a book will be perfect for me… but not at the point in time when I pick it up. And so those books get set aside on the hibernating list to revisit when I’m in a better mood for the book. I don’t try to push through them because I want to give them a proper chance, but I also don’t want to DNF them for good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I love that idea- I’m going to try and think of my temporary DNFs as hibernating from now on! Yeah that makes sense! I’ve also found that recently, with everything going on, I’ve had to press pause on some books, cos it’s just not the time for them (but I don’t see them as DNFs). I absolutely get what you mean!

      Like

  3. I tend to be a mood reader – but there are also times when I can’t decide, not even based on my mood, so I pick up something at random, and if it’s not clicking, I’ll either wait and try again later, or just let it go. My threshold is 50 pages – if I haven’t found enough to really grab me by p. 49, OR if I’m feeling “ehhh” about it, and can’t get invested before the last 50, then I’ll throw in the towel.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really try not to DNF a book… Like you, it makes me feel like I’ve failed in some way. I also feel like, even a book that I’m really not enjoying may give me that “ah-ha!” moment at the end that changes my life…. At the same time, I’ve calculated how many books I can logically read in my lifetime (morbid? Maybe. But, it really gets you thinking!!). In the grand scheme of things, the number is alarmingly low! So, it changes my perspective a little on DNF’s and accepting certain requests!
    It reminds me of the episode of Seinfeld with Elaine and the sponges… Are these books “sponge-worthy”?? 🤣😜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hehe yes it really does (even if it doesn’t make sense to feel like that!) And yes I do feel that as well. hahaha!! I actually really get that (especially right now- it’s made me re-evaluate how much time I want to be wasting on books I’m not enjoying!) It is! I think that’s not a bad thing!
      hahaha oh my god I *love* those episodes!! that is such a good reference!! 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! The main reason I won’t DNF is if I’ve agreed to review a book already – in that case, I’ll just skim-read. Also if I’ve bought a book full price I feel obliged to finish it, because I bought it thinking I’ll like it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I completely get that! And yes- I also feel like that about books that I’ve spent money on (even if it wasn’t full price tbh) cos then I feel like I’ve wasted my money if I haven’t given it a real shot! (actually if I’ve bought it at full price and don’t like it, I’ll probably feel like I wasted my money regardless, but at least then I can review it in full)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh i definitely struggle with dnf-ing books, i only started to dnf them this year after years of pushing through and persevering even hate reading books i dislike so i dont feel like a failure of a reader hahahah

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting.

    I definitely treat certain books differently than others. Most of the SFF that I read, I read simply for enjoyment. So if I’m not enjoying it, down the crapper into the DNF pile it goes. But for books, mainly non-fiction or classics, I’ll stay to the bitter end, because I’m trying to expand my mind with those books and it’s just like exercise, not always fun but good for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yeah I get that- I think that’s why I’m finding it easier to drop books like contemporaries, cos if they’re not enjoyable (when I read them purely for enjoyment) what’s the point? But yeah when I’m reading them for a different reason, then I’m more likely to want to stick with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I hate to DNF. It always makes me feel so shameful and then I try again and again to hope it’s better (maybe I was in the wrong mood or maybe I just didn’t try hard enough…it never is those reasons though) It’s great to know I’m not the only one who feels like crap when I give up on a read. I have been loving all these posts on ‘DNF’ing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Relatable! But I came to realize there is no reason to waste my time since reading is a hobby. Have you read Catch-22? I felt a bit guilty since it’s a classic and I have graduated-with-an-english-degree syndrome, but I just couldn’t do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand that- I’m realising it more and more lately! Yeah I just about got through that one (and have loads of books like that, which I struggled through/didn’t finish despite having an English degree too 😉 I definitely hear you about that being a syndrome!)

      Like

  10. This was super relatable! FOMO and the feeling I need to persevere really get me 😅. I hate to DNF books, especially when I’m halfway already and invested so much time 😕. I usually never intentionally mean to DNF, but I’m very much that person who puts a book down for a break and just never picks it up again hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I tend not to DNF either, but for me I know it’s part of my obsessive compulsiveness. But I also think that as a reviewer I have try to finish a book cover to cover if I’m to review and judge it fairly. Plus there have been some books that really surprise me in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah I understand that. I completely get that as well- I don’t like to review DNF’d books (even if I will state I didn’t finish it and only do a mini review) so I like to finish it so I can be fair about it. And yeah there are always those (rare) pleasant surprises!

      Like

  12. Reasons #1, #5, #6 and #9 are big ones for me too! Reason #9 is why I’m willing to try Adam Silvera’s other books (with a splash of reason #1 too) despite disliking the first one I’d read from him, which I think had something to do with my mood at the time. (I was feeling way too cynical for a book like ‘They Both Die At The End’.)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I get what you’re saying about persevering and your mood when you read the book, but sometimes I feel like if you’re having to force yourself to keep reading, it’s best to put it down and read something you enjoy.

    That being said, this year I’ve only been reading books I want to, instead of reading for a challenge or to try something different. Last year I found it so difficult to get the time to get any reading done, so I want to make good use of the time I have now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Not DNF’ing a book about perseverance! Makes sense. 😂

    I like to think that I never DNF my books, but I’m frequently guilty of putting them aside and forgetting about them, despite having every intention to keep reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I definitely struggle with DNFing .. i think a big part is worrying if I gave the book a proper chance. And definitely just wanting to persevere and not give up in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve been getting better at DNF’ing (just did it yesterday!), but it’s still pretty hard for literally all of the reasons you listed above. Whether it’s hype or shame or just “well, I bought this, I should give it a fair chance,” it’s so hard for me to put down books. But the one thing isolation has taught me is that I have no patience or time for things that aren’t bringing me joy, so I’ve really been actively trying to only read things I know that I’m going to like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah that’s great! I’m trying to get better too. haha I’m glad you relate 😉 ahh yes I absolutely am guilty of that. But I also have found that isolation has made me realise that I just don’t have the time to keep pushing through books I’m not enjoying (I guess there’s one good thing to come out of this lol 😉 ) That’s great!!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. For me, sheer bloody-mindedness! My most recent example is A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Wow. I apologise for what might be an unpopular opinion, but I hated it. I stuck with it to the end because I could not let it beat me.
    Also, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (I believe it’s published as 7 1/2 in the US) by Stuart Turton. I stuck with this one because of FOMO. Wish I hadn’t!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hahaha! I can actually understand that (I seem to remember being somewhere in the middle on brave new world- there were things I thought were clever- but there were loads of parts I didn’t like)
      haha fair enough! I definitely understand sticking with things because of FOMO!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I think the only books I have ever pushed through have been required reading. If I am pleasure reading, the reading should be pleasing, you know? I have definitely picked up books because of FOMO, but if it wasn’t for me, I let it go. I do realize that my mood has a huge impact of my reading, that’s why I may “set aside” vs DNFing. Set aside means I may pick the book up again at another time, but I don’t look back at DNFs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah I get that. I think it’s much better to be like that! And that’s fair- I think looking at it as setting it aside might make it easier for me to put down a book that’s just not for right now (it definitely helps me with non fic in particular)

      Liked by 1 person

  19. It was (and still is, I guess) hard for me to DNF a book. My main reasons are usually #1, 5, 7, & 9. When I start a book, I really like the idea of finishing it, whether I like it or not. (Finish what you started, you know?) But I eventually realized that it started taking away from my reading experience when I forced myself to read book I didn’t enjoy. Sometimes it takes a while to realize. I still have a hard time DNF’ing books for good though. I keep eyeing Glass Sword, swearing I’ll finish it even though I stopped reading it about four years ago LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely relate. Yeah I do as well. But yeah it’s dawned on me in recent years that it’s just not worth pushing through things that I’m just not enjoying, when the reason I’m reading it is supposed to be for pleasure! Haha I totally get what you mean! (Although when it comes to glass sword, I’d say it’s better to let that one go- it wasn’t worth finishing! 😂)

      Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s gotten increasingly easy for me to DNF. I suspect I’m older than you are, and that diminishing bank of time is a good motivator. However, I used to agonize over not finishing something I started also. These days, I won’t even waste time writing a review for something I hated.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Yep, FOMO is one of the big reasons I struggle to DNF too. It’s the reason why I recently struggled my way to end of A Tale Of Two Cities even though it really wasn’t for me. I’m getting better, though. I tell myself that, even if I DNF, I can still say I tried.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I used to force myself to finish books, but in most cases, I ended up not enjoying the book at all. Dune or American Psycho are titles that I forced myself to finish, for instance. These days, I do DNF books; I have plenty of other books I’m interested in, and I value my spare/reading time too much to spend it on titles I have to force myself to get through/I just don’t like. There are plenty of other obligations in life already. Of course, this doesn’t apply to books that are just ‘tough’, since some do still have something that catches my interest, but if I find myself dreading to read it? I’ll just drop it. Some books are just not for me, and that’s fine!

    When I DNF a book, though, differs with every title.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah I hear you- I find the same thing happens to me a lot too. I try to give books a chance… but they end up being bad anyway. That’s really good that you’re getting better at DNFing- I hear you, it’s important not to force yourself to read books you don’t like in your free time. Absolutely agree! Yeah I hear you there as well! Even then, if it’s too hard to get through, it’s ok to just drop it.

      That’s fair!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s