Let’s Talk Bookish: What Makes You DNF a Book?

Hello, lovelies!

I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! For this week, our topic is:

What Makes You DNF a Book?

This is such a great question, because I used to not DNF (did not finish or put a book down and stop reading, even without finishing it) books. When I was younger, it was because I didn’t realize that was an option. In school, I was forced to finish and read books I hated, so I guess the same logic slipped into my unconsciousness and I assumed you couldn’t do that for books you read for fun, either? 🤦‍♀️

The book community is actually who introduced me to the concept of DNFing, actually! And I’m so glad they did, because, as many people are probably aware, our TBRs are completely overwhelming even when we as readers are at the top of our games, so it’s no surprise that using that precious reading time to push through a book that you hate?

No Thank You GIF by The Dungeon Run

So, what makes me personally DNF a book?


Yeah, if a book can’t pass the Bechel test and women are only being used as damsels, plot devices for the male character, background servants or underdeveloped cuts outs, that’s going to be a hard no to me. Same for rampant sexism, female torture or excessive rape.

Schitts Creek No GIF by CBC

No Plot

If I’m 50 pages in and the book feels like it’s going nowhere, the characters make pointless decisions and everything feels nonsensical or pointless, that’s also going to make me wonder why I ever thought I wanted to read that book in the first place.

conan obrien GIF by Team Coco

Lack of Diversity

I haven’t DNFed a book for specifically this reason before (and I don’t DNF a ton usually anyway, since I’m pretty good at judging if I’m going to like a book or not!), but, ever since I started to read books that were ownvoices, inspired by Non-Western cultures, and featured BIPOC and LBTQIA+ casts, books that don’t have elements of this just seem…eh?

season 3 idgaf GIF by Black Sails

Poor Writing/Editing

This one gets me a lot, as a reader, writer AND an editor. But for the love of the gods, if I can’t read your book because it has so many typos and formatting issues, I’m not even going to waste my time.

eyeroll seriously GIF

I’m sure there are more things I could come up with, but to be honest, I have been working on writing blogs posts for this week for the past few hours and I gotta get some other stuff done. 😅 But, I am REALLY curious to hear what makes you DNF a book, so share your posts or your own thoughts in the comment below and have a great weekend!


14 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: What Makes You DNF a Book?”

  1. The concept of DNFing was something I discovered in the bookish community as well. I thought it was a horrible sin that people should feel shame over. I know now that my guilt about DNFing is a personal problem and I should really just get over it! I could plow through my TBR so much faster if I would simply…give up on books that aren’t worth my time!

  2. I’ve DNF’ed books for years, but always called them abandoned instead. Since I read mostly self-published books for about half a dozen or so years, I kind of had to in order to maintain my sanity and grammar skills because most of them read exactly like first drafts with no real plot, inconsistent characters, and really bad writing. It’s the bad writing that really gets me every time.

  3. No plot doesn’t always bother me too much, if the characters are interesting. As for diversity… it never occurred to me that this would bother me or not. Mind you, I get totally bored with books about wealthy people (of any culture) having their rich-person “problems”. Give me a break… those get DNFed right off the bat.

    1. I will say, if a character has ensnared me properly, I could read a book without any plot and suffer through it, for sure. The diversity one is more recent for me, but after reading A Long Journey to a Small, Angry Planet, I’m really bummed when more books don’t have diverse casts, so I’m noticing it more than I used to. Oh gosh, YES. I connect with that a lot!

      1. My problem with diversity is that I like literary fiction, mostly historical, and these days most diverse #ownvoice writers seem to write mostly contemporary genre fiction (romance, fantasy), so the characters and authors I read are naturally less diverse.

  4. Poor editing is a big one for me, though usually I can spot those books before I get into them. I rarely DNF, and the times I have are when I’ve realized that the book in question has made reading a chore. When reading becomes something that makes me go “ugh, I guess I need to pick up that book and finish it,” it defeats the whole point of reading. I’ve had a few two star reviews I should have bailed out on earlier (and I basically ended up hate reading the back half of those books) so I’ve tried to make myself put down anything that I’ve found boring or utterly annoying. Still only DNF a few books a year, but it’s AMAZING how much of a relief I feel when I make myself realize that…you know what? That book I’m not enjoying? I DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE TO FINISH IT.

  5. These are all good reasons to DNF but the main reason for me is that I don’t enjoy the prose/tone… I get fed up with books I find ‘annoying’ very quickly, haha. This doesn’t necessarily equal bad writing, though. I’m just particular about what style of writing I like to read.

  6. I DNF rarely because I generally know my tastes well enough, but it’s usually when something is just sending out of the book (poor writing, engaging in some kind of harmful ideology) and reading more is giving me less hope that it will redeem itself.

    Though it HAS HAPPENED where I get to the end of a book and the ending ruins everything that came before it.

  7. Life’s just too short to read books I don’t care for, TBH. I DNF quite a bit because I just have no time to waste these days. I DNF for the same reasons that you do, but also if an author doesn’t adequately trigger warn. I’m not going to avoid a book because it has hard subject matter in it, but I need to know about it before hand. Authors should respect that their readers carry things with them, and should respect if people don’t want to finish their work because it blind-sided them. ❤️

  8. Yes to all of the above! I also have a list of triggers which … let’s just say whenever anyone is praising a book as feminist I get very excited, only to almost inevitably get very, very triggered once I read it. (We really need to normalise CWs on books!)

    The idea of DNFing due to lack of diversity is something I’ve been feeling recently too. Like you say — it’s not so much on principle as it is like ‘this book seems kinda … lacking?’ Just hurts immersion for me now!

    I would add (for my own list): if I don’t connect with the characters. I don’t have to relate to them, I don’t have to like them, but I do have to be interested in them, or I will get just as bored as if there was no plot.

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