Book Discussion | What Happens when You “DNF” a Novel?


Though I’m terribly unreliable when it comes to writing discussion pieces regularly, in 2019, one of my goals is to write more. Something that shouldn’t be a problem considering I have ideas for discussion posts (and have even started some), I just don’t always put the words to paper. Today I thought I’d change this by sharing a new discussion post. Our topic? DNF-ing (or “did not finish”) books, and a little thing known as genre preference. So here’s the question: What Happens when You DNF a Novel?

It’s rare for me not to finish a book. But it does happen. My own experiences leave me curious: what things prompt you not to finish a book?

Today I take a look at three reasons why I might mark a book “DNF,” and when I will continue even if these issues crop up.

What Happens when You DNF a Novel?

1: Genre (and Plot) | Though I do list “genre” first, reason number one is really down more to plot. Over the years (which I’ve also talked of recently), I’ve worked really hard to refine my genre preferences. In part, I credit this with why I don’t experience as many books that I have to push myself through, and I don’t care for.

When your preferred genre “clicks,” it makes the reading experience so much more pleasant. Plus, for me, it eliminates nearly all of the DNF kind of books.

2: Profane Language (Just Because) | One of my biggest pet peeves in fiction is profane language…that’s in there just because. SO many secular novels have profanity in them simply because they can. Meaning, their genre allows it so this translates on to the pages. In fact, right now I’m trudging through this very issue in a book, and I don’t mind saying, it’s so unpleasant! There doesn’t have to be a moment or scene or mood that profanity might punctuate. No, 99% of the time when profane language is overused, it’s sprinkled throughout common dialogue, and it’s not only unpleasant, but it degrades the characters. (Because it has no purpose.)

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you find that secular fiction over uses its “because I can” card in this way? Or any way? Does it make you more or less invested? For me, it’s a big turn off and unless I’m really invested in the story, I won’t finish a novel that uses profanity without purpose.

3: Writing and Style | When we begin a novel, I believe, it should be engaging and pleasant. If I’m not “feeling” anything for the characters or the story, then chances are, I won’t be into the story. Typically writing styles I cannot get into include classic literature, or poetry. I’ve never really liked the latter no matter how it’s done, but classic lit is certainly something I’d like to give a second (or third or fourth) chance.

Either way, the style of a book can be a turn off. My latest DNF is Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. Something about the style of the book and the repeat days isn’t my cup of tea. It’s just not a book that I’m connecting with. For this specific example, this is because the style isn’t suiting me.

Do you find the writing and/or a book’s style effects the likelihood of you finishing a novel?

A #BookBloggers Book Discussion | What Happens when You 'DNF' a Novel? Click To Tweet

Do you mark books DNF often? If so, what are some of the reasons that prompt this? Is it a style, author or content? Share all your best DNF stories or tips (do you find pressing on usually nets good results?) down below.

Thank you for visiting; please come back soon!

please excuse the “disorder.” you can read more about Finding Wonderland’s changes, new follow options and why archive posts are a mess in my “Disorder + Feedback” post!

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. So I am the WORST at DNFing. Meaning, I should do it more often, yet I don’t! I actually DID just DNF a book (one that I was really looking forward to, sadly) because I just could not bring myself to care about anything or anyone. But it wasn’t an easy decision!

    It’s funny though, because all of the books I have DNFed (and there have only been 6!), I have DNFed them all for very different reasons. So I guess if I just am NOT feeling it, that is how it happens? It’s hard to predict, since I have slogged through some really rough ones hahah.

    Profanity doesn’t bother me at all- well, I guess I shouldn’t say AT ALL, I mean, if it is done totally for shock value and/or every other word, then yeah, that sounds dreadful! Where’s the story, right?

    Also NO, pressing on almost NEVER gives me good results. I’d say maybe 1/20 times it works out well, so you have to wonder if it is really worth the other 19 times hahah.

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: 2019 TBR Explosion
    1. Generally I don’t DNF either. I’m not sure if that’s because I “can’t” or because I do a pretty good job at knowing where my reader preferences stand. I like to think it’s the latter, and for the most part, I think it is. :)

      I read a book earlier this month that was TOUGH to get through (I didn’t care for the characters). It made me sad too because I’d seen so many glowing reviews, and the hype was “real.” But at the back of my mind, I think I was warning myself it wasn’t really my kind of read. *Note to self: listen to your inner reader voice* ;)

      So glad you shared your thoughts, Shannon! Apologies for the reply delay, but I really enjoyed reading your comment. Thanks for adding to the convo. :)

  2. I’m getting better at DNF-ing. I used to consider it a virtue to finish every book I started, but since I started reviewing and becoming exposed to a seemingly endless list of books and authors, I value my reading time much more. I have similar criteria for DNF- if I’m not connecting with the characters and bored with the plot, or uncomfortable with the content.

    1. I feel like a book that isn’t capturing our attention means it’s not worth “pressing on.” I mean, I don’t follow my own advice, since most the time I do continue on, but that’s never a good thing. There are too many other books out there to enjoy – and yes, our time is worth something, too. :)

      Thanks so much for adding to the discussion, Heidi. Apologies for the reply, but I did see and enjoy your comment.

  3. I pretty much finish reading my books. There are some books that I haven’t finished yet (like the unabridged version of Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and The Complete Works of Josephus) but I eventually finish them. If it’s not grabbing me enough, I might read another book along with it though.

    I suppose if I found a book offensive enough, I might DNF. Usually those are the books I don’t read to begin with though.

    As a writer, I wonder about profanity though. I generally steer away from it… but there are cases where it seems to be the best word choice. In the ~ten novels/novellas I’ve written (including the ones that are mostly finished but I’m still working on) I’ve probably used fewer than ten curse words. I’ve noticed in some books they use curse words in other languages (sparingly)… but since I have a basic knowledge of a lot of the common foreign languages people use, I understand what they’re saying.

    Brooke Lorren recently posted: The Wicked King was Diabolically Good
    1. I am perfectly OK with some profanity in novels – and I love lots of books that does use it. But, when it feels as if it is “every other word” (even though it isn’t) or as if it’s being shoved in the readers face, I find that HARD to like. For example, the last book I read that wasn’t shy about profanity often began POV switch offs with the F-word. It was not only not necessary, but it also made me dislike the characters even more. In this case, the book (in my reader viewpoint) used this language solely because its genres allows this. For me, that’s a big reader turn-off.

      I pretty much finish all of mine too. But on occasion I leave them be because I just can’t press on. Oh, and I too sometimes read more than one. If I’m reading a “darker” book, I like to pick something up that’s lighthearted to read before turning out the lights. :)

      Thanks so much for commenting, Brooke! I appreciate it. Apologies for the reply delay.

  4. I don’t nearly ever DNF books . . . I just set it down halfway through and always say I’m going to finish it “someday” . . . I’ve got several books that are like that. It’s usually either a BIG book, or a book that doesn’t captivate me quickly . . . or a nonfiction book, because yeah, I’m that kind of person ><. So with that, I don't think I've ever actually set down a book and said yeah, I'm not finishing this one, although I imagine I would do that to a book with a ton of violence or profanity. To date I haven't actually DNFed a book, to my knowledge, though!

    1. I have a few books that I’ve forgotten about, too, Hanne. But who knows! If I come across them, someday maybe I’ll pick them up again.

      When it comes to lengthy books, I’m a wimp. In fact, I recently picked up Renegades but am so intimidated by its length, who knows when I’ll actually read it! :)

      Thanks SO much for adding to the conversation. I enjoyed your comments; and apologize for the reply delay. :)

  5. It is rare for me to DNF a book, but it is something I’m trying to do more of. I feel guilty when I quit a story, but then I have such a large TBR pile, that I feel I need to, to make time for books I want to read.
    As far as genre goes, it is rare that I venture outside of my preferred genres, so I don’t often DNF a book over this. I also don’t read that many books with a lot of language, but when I do, I do find it rather obnoxious. Mainly, I will DNF a book if I don’t find the story interesting or if I find myself needing to finish out of duty, instead of wanting to finish, because I’m interested.

    1. I have some of the same feelings, Brittaney. But I think this year I need to be more proactive about this. I have SO many books that I was once REALLY excited about, but haven’t read. Some of them I’m still excited about, but some I feel like I’ve grown out of them. Because of this, I think I’m going to try and be even more proactive when it comes to unhauling and I’m determined to DNF more books IF I feel like there just not for me. There’s too many other books to enjoy. :)

      Well said. Maybe that’s what I don’t like about profanity too; it reads as obnoxious. I feel like SO often secular fiction uses it as a kind of “because I can” move, and that just doesn’t read well to me.

      I always want my fiction reading to be for fun/enjoyment (or at least to feel something) rather than duty. So glad you stopped by to share your thoughts! Thanks, Brittaney; and apologies for the reply delay.

  6. I almost never DNF, but lately, I’ve been reconsidering that stance. Life is too short and reading time is too limited to spend my time reading something I’m not enjoying whatsoever (now, if I start disliking something when I’m over halfway through, I’ll probably continue to slog through until the end. But the beginning? I think that needs to be fair game). I just DNF’d a book yesterday where the style wasn’t drawing me in, and then the main character referred to her brother, to his face, by his first and last name (ie, “Is that you, John Smith???” In her own home. Like, who talks like that?). I tried to imagine my husband ever calling his sister her full name, couldn’t, and dumped the book immediately. (Petty? Maybe, but I was only on about page five and the book already wasn’t doing it for me, so I’m okay with that.)

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