Bookish Chat : You have the right to DNF OR persevere to the very last full stop

November 2, 2013 Book review, Bookish chat 29

Not finishing a book is one of those controversial subjects for readers and even more so for reviewers.  It is one where you and only you and nobody else but you has the right to decide what is best for you personally.  There should be no guilt either way,  just do what works for you.

I’m all about the DNF’ing though, it suits me and allows me to take more chances with books knowing I won’t be stuck with them to the bitter end if they backfire.

Why I DNF without the slightest bit of guilt:

Reading books is a hobby not a job.  I’m not going to spend my free time painstakingly reading a book if I’m not getting some form of pleasure/entertainment from it.

I have too many potentially great books waiting to be read.  I’d rather chuck the one that is not engaging me and move on to one of those.

No one is going to give you a black mark for not finishing.  It is my choice and I’m not answerable to anyone about what I read and what I fling down.

Equally no one will give you a gold star for finishing it.  So why bother wasting my time and effort?

Why I rate and review books I DNF?

OK, now I’m getting even more controversial and again everyone should just do what works for them.  I want to review and rate books no matter at what stage I abandon them.  As a general note, I’ll always make it to at least 20% and sometimes 30% in order to give the book a good chance to impress me.

If I have been given a book to review and I don’t finish it well surely that is feedback that is worth noting.  I would think the author/publisher would/should want to know and to use that as constructive criticism.  If you put yourself out there for honest feedback then you have to expect that back and if I can’t bear your book for another minute then that’s what you’ll hear.

I will rate based on what I did read and I will always make it clear in a written review that I didn’t finish the book.   I will also try to explain what was turning me off the book.

As a reader I appreciate DNF reviews by others and especially ones that give reasons.  They help me make choices when I’m choosing what books to buy.  They may not even necessarily turn me off a book but they do give me a clearer picture as to whether a book will appeal to me or not.

A recent example of a book I DNF’s and my review afterwards is this one. 

Bookish Chat : You have the right to DNF OR persevere to the very last full stopStuck by Stacey D Atkinson

Odette Leblanc is promoted to night-shift supervisor at the local convenience store, but at the age of twenty-three, she already feels like her life has become a predictable routine. That is, until she meets a mysterious doryman and his cat on the beach, followed by an unexpected run-in with an American sailor. Each man will undeniably change the course of her life, and so will the selfish actions of her bingo-addicted mother, an impressionable younger sister, and a team of damaged co-workers. Their stories weave together only to unravel in a mess of lies, betrayal, and missed opportunity that will leave Odette to face an uncertain future.

Set in the picturesque Acadian fishing village of Pointe-du-Chêne, New Brunswick (Canada), Stuck is an emotional journey about redefining what’s important in life and staying true to yourself

My Thoughts on Stuck

DNF – quit at 40%.  I just didn’t care about the main character and had no interest in finishing.  The pace was slower than slow and there was nothing that held my attention enough to make me plough through to the end.  Not for me I guess.

Thanks to Smith Publicity — Mirror Image Publishing for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Bookish Chat :

Do you DNF or not?  What are your reasons for abandoning the book or struggling on with it?  If you DNF, do you go on to rate and review the book

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29 Responses to “Bookish Chat : You have the right to DNF OR persevere to the very last full stop”

  1. Dee @ Dee's Reads

    Great topic for discussion, trish. I do know that, as a reviewer, I’m finding it’s getting easier and easier to DNF without the guilt that used to always plague me and slow my reading down,
    It’s hard though when you want to like a book so badly…but just aren’t feeling it. I’m in that situation now and I think I am going to have to abandon it.
    I also like and appreciate DNF reviews. Sometimes I even add the book bc what didn’t work for one reader could be something I’m looking for. It’s important that we share our views. And, in the long run, as much as we DNF and review them — were still reviewing and reading mainly books we really like.
    I love being reminded of this– I’m chucking my current book now actually! Too many more on my list to waste time on one..
    Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…Dystopian Giveaway Hop

    • trish

      That is so true what you said Dee, we mostly end up liking and even loving the books we review. The one’s we don’t are the exceptions. And I’m all for chucking the book that doesn’t do it for you, embrace the chuck!

  2. Dana (Little Lovely Books)

    I am like you…I DNF as well for many of the reasons you mentioned. I don’t want to waste time on a book when there are so many others I will never get a chance to read. There are times when I DNF and then go back later and actually enjoy the book. I read what I want when I want to and try to just enjoy the whole thing. Great discussion post!
    Dana (Little Lovely Books) recently posted…ARC Envy #15 – Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson

    • trish

      That has happened me as well Dana, sometimes I DNF because I’m in the wrong mood and I set it down to try again later. This has on the odd occasion worked well for me. If I think it’s just my mood then I wouldn’t rate or review the book until I try again with it.

  3. Charleen

    I do DNF, but I don’t review these books. I DO send feedback on NetGalley if it’s a book for review (I figure they want the feedback whether or not I make it public) and if someone asks or it comes up in conversation, I’ll share my thoughts. But not an “official” review.

    But I don’t usually write reviews for 1- or 2-star books either, so it’s more to do with keeping my blog mainly positive than feeling I can’t adequately judge the book.
    Charleen recently posted…October Mini-Reviews

    • trish

      I like your thinking behind not reviewing those books Charleen. In general I prefer blogs that have that positive feeling behind them so that has given me something to think about. I mostly enjoy the books I read though and the DNF are very much the minority as I’m pretty choosy about what I take on.

      • Charleen

        I know some people prefer blogs that will post negative reviews, because it makes the positive ones more meaningful, and I totally get that view as well… but for me, I have a hard enough time not nitpicking things I don’t like in books that I mostly do like. I just feel like my negative reviews would be TOO negative.

        Of course, I just started doing monthly recaps now, so now people can at least see the books I don’t care for, even when I don’t write a full review. Maybe I’ll include DNF’s in my recaps too.
        Charleen recently posted…October Mini-Reviews

        • trish

          That sounds like a good idea, even if you don’t review them, it shows what ones didn’t do it for you. LOL that you would be too negative, that makes me really want to read a negative review by you!

    • trish

      It certainly is a hot topic, everyone has such different opinions on it! If you get a feeling of achievement from reading the whole book, then that’s working for you Michelle. I think we all find what works best for us and that’s exactly the way it should be.

  4. Freda Mans

    I think you have every right to DNF a book you acquire. However, if sent the book for review, as an editor of a blog, you are obligated to read it and give your full criticism based on it.
    If I lived by your rules, I would have missed out on some books that took a bit to get going but once they did, they didn’t stop.
    Freda Mans recently posted…Quote It Saturday

    • trish

      I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. But that’s ok, we are a diverse group with diverse opinions. I did check with publishers that send me ARC’s though and they are fine with DNF reviews as long as it’s clear they are DNF’s. They would prefer us to love the book but know it won’t happen all the time.
      Looks like your rule works for you though and I’m glad some books turned out to be well worth it.

  5. Leanne @ Literary Excursion

    I always wonder why DNFing is such a controversial topic, because it changes based on opion… but I suppose anything based on opinions is going to be controversial, when there are those that can’t have people disagreeing with them. o_o

    I have a hard time DNFing books just because I like that feeling of accomplishment after I finish. Or I suppose it’s more accurate to say I like having a tick mark or a list item to show for having read that book. Although when I look back on it and remember what a chore it was to get through, it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment anymore. Go me, I tortured myself for 400 pages that would have been better off with a *good* book. Some books I absolutely can’t handle, and have to end them early. I’m constantly at war with myself on sticking to a book I’m not enjoying, but I’ve been getting much better about DNFing when there are no redeeming qualities.

    I’ve recently given myself some rules and said either 100 pages in or 25% into a book, if I’m truly not enjoying it *at all* I will just DNF it. Even if it’s a review book, I can at least send a small amount of feedback on why I DNF’d. Basically I’m trying to implement the standards in myself that you already have. Reading should be fun! I don’t know why I can’t put some books down, even knowing I should.

    • trish

      It’s funny that people get all huffy about someone doing something different to the way they do it. I’m all for DNF’ing but if someone else wants to read every last page, then that’s fine too. We should just all do what feels right for us.
      I think once you DNF a few times though, it gets easier as you are already finding out Leanne. And I also agree that you do need to read at least 20% to give a book a chance as some are slow starters but if it’s not doing at one fifth in then, I’m done!

  6. Kelley (Another Novel Read)

    I have only chosen to DNF a few books, but I had no qualms about it, really. I wasn’t enjoying the books and found it painful to continue, so why bother? Plus, I wanted to read something I would enjoy more, so I just moved on. I don’t think I have really written any DNF reviews (or even explanations), but they’ve been so few and far between that I don’t think it matters. If I ever come to one that I think it worth explaining, I definitely would! I really appreciate seeing DNF reviews, because I like to know what made the person decide to stop reading it.
    Kelley (Another Novel Read) recently posted…I Like Science Fiction! Do YOU Like Science Fiction?

    • trish

      Exactly Kelley, if a book is painful then why bother. Reading time is limited enough as it is with our busy lives, I’d much rather spend time with a book that I enjoy and can feel positive about.

  7. Chelsea @ Starbucks & Books Obsession

    Great topic Trish! I agree with you, I don’t have a problem DNF a book either. Like you said, this is a hobby, not a job and if I truly don’t like a book, I don’t want to waste my time when I have so many other books I want and need to read. If I don’t enjoy a book, it takes me longer to read and that takes away my free time. I also think you should at least review a DNF because you didn’t finish it for a reason and that is feedback the author and publisher can use.

    • trish

      Oh gosh, I’m totally the same Chelsea, if I’m not enjoying a book, I’m so slow at reading it. I know when I make excuses not to read then the book is usually the problem so when I switch books, I get back to my happy place!
      I totally agree that DNF reviews are useful feedback to both the author and publisher. Not what they want to see but still feedback.

  8. Jenna @ Rather Be Reading YA

    I used to read every book to the finish, but I stopped that years ago, because like you said, reading is not my job. I don’t understand anymore why people torture themselves with bad books, but if they get something out of it, it’s working for them. I don’t understand why people watch football either, but plenty of people do.

    I just don’t like it when people get smug about finishing every book they start and act like everyone should finish every book and if you’re not, you’re not doing it right.

    My DNF reviews are similar to yours and I try to collect several in one post instead of posting them individually.
    Jenna @ Rather Be Reading YA recently posted…Clean Out Your E-reader Challenge

    • trish

      LOL, I don’t get why people watch football either! I have been known to pull out my book while at a match much to my husbands disapproving look!
      Good idea to post the DNF’s together, I have seen another blogger do that too and it works well. Plus it gets all the negative stuff out of the way in one post and then we can go back to loving the others!

  9. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I don’t DNF very often…so when I do, I feel a semblance of guilt. But what has happened as a result: I am more cautious about the review books I accept. And so far, I haven’t DNF’ed a blog tour book. Individual authors who approach me are given an e-mail explanation. I try to frame it as “it’s not you, it’s me.” But now I am turning away most authors whose other books I haven’t read.

    And for now, after this month, I am turning away blog tours.

    Life is too short to spend time on books we don’t enjoy!
    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted…AUTHOR’S HOME PAGE

    • trish

      Have you had some backlash then Laurel, is that what you mean? So far I’ve been lucky and authors haven’t screamed back at me! I’m determined to be honest though and if I can’t finish it, then I’m sorry but it is what it is. I have had a book on a blog tour that was 2.5 stars (but not a dnf) however when I asked for an alternative post rather than a review post, it was no problem. That has eased my mind a lot about blog tours but again if a book is painful, no matter what the source, I will DNF.

  10. kimbacaffeinate

    I DNF now as well, and agree it allows me to try new authors and genres. While I post a reason why I DNF’d book on Goodreads, and send thoughts off to publisher, I personally don’t feel that I can give an honest review of a book I did not finish. However, I can state why I did not finish, be it the character, writing or objection to something. I do not give them a rating.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Sunday Post #80 -sharing blog news and book haul

    • trish

      I love hearing all the different ways that people handle DNF’s Kim and while we do it different, I can see why you do it your way.

  11. acps927

    I completely agree with your thoughts, Trish! Life is too short to read books I don’t care for when there are more awesome books out there! And I also appreciate reading a well-written and well-explained (not bashing and hateful) DNF review. It gives me an idea of what problems the book might have and alert me as to whether or not it will be a problem for me.
    acps927 recently posted…My Top 5 Most Anticipated Sequels

    • trish

      Yes! I don’t have enough time to read all the books I really want to read! So no way, do I want to waste time on a book that is annoying me. I’m with you on the non hateful, bashing reviews too, I much prefer the constructively critical ones.

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