When to quit…

I used to feel very conflicted when I wasn’t enjoying reading a particular book. On one hand, I wanted to quit the story and move onto something else, but on the other hand,  I HATE quitting so I felt like I needed to push through and finish. The Type A – perfectionist in me revolts at the idea of not finishing something.

But then I realized that not all books are for everyone. And just because other people (even thousands and thousands of other people) seem to love a book, it’s OK if I don’t like it. And I also realized that just because I don’t like a particular book now, doesn’t mean I might not be able to pick it up at a later time and enjoy it at that then. After all….I have WAY too many books on my to-be-read list to try to muscle through something that isn’t sucking me in.

So, I decided to write a post about the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish). I don’t really have a rule of when I decide a book is likely going to be a DNF. I do think there are certain genres that I find more tedious and thus am ikely to get bored or frustrated quickly if it’s not really good. YA fiction is one. I seem to either really love YA (Example: Divergent, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns)  or really find myself feeling annoyed and disconnected from the characters. Especially if the YA novel is a first person narration and that narrator seems to do nothing but whine and complain…I usually finding my eyes glazing over with boredom real quickly.

I like to think that by about 30-40 pages or so the book should have me interested. If, by then, I’m still feeling bored, uninterested, confused or annoyed….I should give up and mark it a DNF. The problem is, I usually don’t. Even though I’ve come to grips with marking a novel as a DNF, I still try to give it good chance. However, even when I push through to say…100 pages or so on a novel that I was bored with at page 40, I end up wishing I would have quit it sooner and just moved on.

Every once in a great while, I will really enjoy a book after the 30-40 page mark, but that is rare. One recent example is The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry. But that doesn’t happen often so I need to stop assuming that most books will win me over later on.

Here are two books that are recent DNFs for me.

First is: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro




This is an example of a first person narration that I was annoyed with almost immediately. It read like listening to an immature teenager telling you about every minute detail of their day. No thanks. I hear it gets better and I’ve read the general synopsis. I don’t want to give anything about the storyline away, because other reviewers seem to like the idea that you don’t really know what’s going on until later on in the story. I’m sure I might have like it more had I stuck it out longer, but I just couldn’t.







Second is: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


This is a book that has over 200,00 ratings on Goodreads with an average of a 4.3 star rating. I had such high hopes for this book and heard such good things…and just couldn’t get past 100 pages. Yes…I gave this one until 100 pages even though I started feeling the DNF bug around page 25 or so. I think the idea was cool…I usually like dystopian novels and I even appreciated the science fiction twist to it. But…I didn’t see it going anywhere. The book talks a lot about gaming and virtual reality so maybe if I was a gamer, I’d appreciate it more. Another thing that bothered me was the 80’s references. The funny thing is…these references are what a lot of other reviewers liked about the book. I just felt like they were thrown in for easy “oh I remember that!” feelings…but they didn’t really serve a purpose to the story. I can get the point the author was trying to reach with the story, but I just couldn’t finish this one either.





There are others I’ve started and haven’t finished over the years, these two are just the most recent. I think I’ll continue to post about my DNF every now and then since it is technically a review of mine. Although, let’s hope there aren’t many 🙂

So I’m curious….how do you feel about marking a book as a DNF? Do you quit or do you muscle through? At what point do you just know a book isn’t going to work for you? And what are some of your books you listed as a DNF?


2 thoughts on “When to quit…

  1. Carrie says:

    I used to be able to count my DNF’s on one hand. I just couldn’t let myself do it. Slowly I’m beginning to come to a better ability to let them go. However, lately I have found a few DNF’s that I really was enjoying on some level but that I backed away from for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe, like you’ve said, they are just not for me at this time and I will circle back to them later. That’s one think I like about having them on my Kindle, that options is just a click away.


    • Sarah Strezo says:

      That’s a very good point about owning a book, whether it’s a kindle version or a hard copy. Books can mean different things to us at different times. I do borrow books from the library and feel almost justified if it happens to be something I don’t care for or ultimately DNF. But then I worry…maybe I didn’t give it a fair chance. Or maybe I picked it up after finishing something previous that was just too heavy. Because I find that I can have a hard time connecting to a new story and new characters if I just finished a book that I felt very heavily emotionally involved in. Do you know that feeling?


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