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Our Reading Lives

When It’s Time To DNF a Book and What To Do Next

Simone Jung

Staff Writer

Simone is a bookstagrammer with a penchant for writing. When she's not working at her day job, she spending her nights following the rabbit hole of good reads. She's an advocate for diverse reads, but she also loves a good thriller, a romantic meet cute, a coming-of-age story, a historical drama, and the everyday mishaps of life. You can find her blogging at

Recently I’ve been finding myself putting down a lot of books I don’t finish. In the Book world, we call it “DNF” (did not finish). When it comes to books, we all want to read whatever we want as much as we want. We want to read every single book we pick up, but the truth is that not every book we read is going to be a winner. Some books will speak to us right in the moment we’re reading them. Others will take some time or won’t spark our interest at all. But putting down a book you don’t like doesn’t mean it’s the worst or you’re the worst. It just means that it doesn’t speak to you the way other books do.

However, it might be too easy to put down a book that’s not my style in the beginning but turns out to be my style by the end. I almost gave up on Golden Child, but my friends kept telling me to keep going.

books over 500 pages feature

Give It 100 Pages

I usually give myself about 100 pages to read a book and if I make it to 100 pages I reassess myself and ask if it worked at all. Should I keep going? If the book is really capturing me, then that’s a no brainer. But it’s the times when I ask myself this question and pause where I wonder if this book is right for me. I also like to keep in mind the number of times I pick up my phone during a reading session. If I’m looking at social media more than reading, then something must be up.

Check Your Mood

Sometimes a book doesn’t work for you because the mood you’re in when you read it. Perhaps it’s a summer romance you’re reading in the winter. It’s a scary thriller on a bright and happy day or a sad love story on your ex’s birthday. I strongly believe that environmental factors should be considered when reading a book. If you’re not ready for a heavy read, it can throw you when it gets tougher. If you’re not in the mood for something light, it becomes irritating. Assessing the way you feel can help determine if what you’re reading can be saved for another day when you’re in the mood to read that book.

Be Fair In Your Review

If you do decide to review a book you DNF, make sure to be fair. Your choice to DNF a book may only be your choice. There are many reasons why you DNF a book and some of those could be super valid like the writing style or the characters, but also keep in mind that your opinion is your own and what doesn’t work for you might work fine for someone else. It’s giving the book the chance for others to read.

Find What Didn’t Work For You

The final question I ask myself is why didn’t this work for me. Granted, I’m always thinking about my reading life and looking for content to write about. This question is to examine why the book didn’t work for me. Is it because it’s not my genre? Was it the writing style? What about the book is giving me pause? All these questions are good to assess your reading life and make it better in the future. DNF books aren’t just book you decided to put down, but it can give you some ideas on why you did. It’s usually something to do with the writing style for me. From looking at some of the books I’ve DNF’d, I don’t like books with overdone language or too lyrical. I don’t like books with slow paces unless it’s compelling enough to get me over 100 pages.

I’ve learned a lot from putting down books and I hope you do the same!