In the reading world there’s this thing called Did Not Finish (DNF). It’s when a reader starts a book but doesn’t complete it.
When I was younger, I always finished a book.
To me, cracking open a novel (this was before the eBook days) felt like a solemn contract that I’d entered into. Once opened a book, it had to be completed!
As I get older, and a little more judgmental, I find myself sometimes putting a story down and not picking it back up.
It doesn’t happen often, but so far this year I’ve stopped reading two books. One at 25% and one at 53%.
(To put things into perspective, I’ve finished 19 books since January 1st.)
Last year I only remember one that I didn’t get through.
People have different reasons for stopping a story in the middle. Here are my most common ones.
Not really, but I don’t love f-bombs or explicit sex and I’ll drop a book for too much of either. This is probably my biggest DNF category, because I LOVE a good story, but hate the R-rated stuff, so I often try books that are iffy (for me) and in the end they’re too much.
If a story hasn’t hooked me multiple times by the 25% mark, then I’m out.
As a reader I need someone to cheer for, and if I don’t find that person I’ll stop reading. A few years ago I put down a space opera because the author made the main character too whiney. Everyone else was stupid.
A novel listed as a space opera should have action, not be about the economy. A fantasy book should be more adventure than romance, unless otherwise specified clearly in the blurb. A romance should be more about the characters falling in love than an assassination plot. This one is usually coupled with something else. If the story is still good, despite having mislead me, then I’ll usually finish it.
I’m not talking grammar and typos here, I’m talking forced love triangles, Mary Sue characters, authors who break their own world rules…multiple times, and things that just don’t make sense. I’m actually pretty forgiving about iffy writing, but when this is coupled with one of the above issues I’ll usually throw in the towel.
Bonus for Audio Books:
I think there have been two or three books that the narration has killed a story for me.
The book I got to 25% of I stopped reading because of a combination of I’m bored/don’t care what happens and you lied to me.
The book I got to 53% hit my have you ever read a book about writing really hard with a side of I’m bored. I wanted it to get good, but I figured if I still wasn’t that interested by the midpoint that it wasn’t worth the time to finish it.
Last year I stopped an audio book about halfway through because the language was too foul for me. Plus, I really didn’t like one of the main characters and the narrator was annoying.
What makes you DNF a book?