DNF: When Reading Goes Wrong…


One thing I’m fairly proud of is that I always finish books, even the ones I don’t particularly care for. Sometimes a story picks up speed right when you least it expect it. Sometimes the end makes it all worthwhile. Sometimes the book really does suck and you just move on to the next one. For as many projects I’ve obsessed over, started, and not finished, books are not a part of that. Except. Except….

Last year, near the beginning of my book challenge, I wrote this post about trying to read the book The Brief  Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I had borrowed it from Brad’s brother/sister-in-law (I still have it and you will get it back!) because the author, Junot Diaz, had another critically enjoyed book released around that time that sounded intriguing. If you click the link to Oscar Wao, you’ll see that the book won a bunch of awards…including the Pulitzer! How could you go wrong? Well…I did. I just…could..not..finish…this…book. I was confused for most of it and I didn’t care enough about the characters to remember their stories and it went back and forth in time and I had to google often to translate some of it. It was a lot of work for a book I didn’t care much about…so I stopped reading it and looked it up on Wikipedia to see how it ended. It’s not a proud moment of mine. It’s been almost a year and I still think about it.

DNF: Did Not Finish
This is something I started to see frequently while looking for book reviews on Goodreads. I didn’t know what it meant, so I looked it up. Seeing that a lot of people do this, I have less guilt. Still, I hate the idea of giving up.

I’m reminded of this again because, on a whim, I bought the book Breaking Glass when it was a Kindle Daily Deal. It sounded like an interesting read…a YA psychological thriller. Plus it was super cheap. I started reading it almost immediately. But then…well..I didn’t like it. It is poorly written and it’s slow moving. I’ve read and finished 5 books since I purchased it in November. It’s been on my carousel forever. I’ve finally made the decision to give up.
I’m embarrassed but…no. It’s just not happening. (Sidebar: The first review on Goodreads is a 5 star review…from the author. THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK RATED HER OWN BOOK. HOW IS THAT OKAY? )

I can name the books I’ve never finished because this rarely happens. One of the books I truly gave up on was Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. According to my Goodreads, I “read” the book. And yes, I read most of it. But I actually skipped pages and tried to read bits and pieces to finish the story so that I would at least knew how it ended.
It’s not really fair, I know. But I hated it. It was recommended by Entertainment Weekly for people who loved Bridesmaids, so I expected humor and coming-of-age with a little bit of drama. Nah. TOO MUCH.
And now, looking at the reviews, 3.3 isn’t bad, but it’s not that great, either.
I also very quickly gave up on The Mortal Instruments:City of Bones because, again, it was slow-going. I also didn’t like the third person writing…it didn’t jive with me. It also hopped right into all this storyline and action and there was so much to learn and I didn’t care enough. I ended up just watching the movie and found it fairly enjoyable.

I’ll finish this post by saying that DNF isn’t always the end-all, be-all because I have the proof that it isn’t.
Maybe one day I’ll read Breaking Glass. I’ll cross whatever hump is in the way and it’ll be smooth sailing and I’ll actually like it. And that’s because…ready for a shocker?…I almost DNF The Hunger Games!!!!!!

I started to read The Hunger Games the summer of 2011. I had heard good things about it and it was set to be the next big YA novel-based movie phenomenon (and duh, it was). In the summer of 2012, I was an extremely anxious and miserable person. I was having panic attacks and ruining my days by worrying. Reading a violent book about young people killing each other, starving, and nearly dying from dehydration (those who read the book might recall the brown urine Katniss experienced while struggling to find water…yeah, that stuck with me). So I gave up, right before Katniss and Rue teamed up. It was making me upset and it wasn’t worth it for me.

The following year, I was finally on some medication for my anxiety and the movie was set to be released in March. I still had the book so I thought…let’s do this. I started from the beginning and right when I hit the part I stopped at, I realized I missed out on such a great story. Post-Rue, things got SO INTENSE. Ultimately, I ended up loving it and reading Catching Fire  (favorite) and Mockingjay and crying when it was all over.

Sometimes, it’s just not the right time for a story. Maybe you’re not strong enough to handle the emotions. Maybe your mind wants to laugh instead of cry, or vice versa. Maybe you need a thrill instead of a quiet novel.
But I guess, ultimately, you can’t be ashamed of the DNF.
There’s always another book to fill the gaps.


  1. I'm glad you wrote this! I am always determined to finish books too, so I just try to trudge through them.. but when I let one sit for months and months with the bookmark still in I feel bad. Like I failed or something. BUT ya know what? the author failed at keeping me interested. and maybe that book wasn't for me. hmph!

    1. You're very right. It's not like the author isn't good...it's just not for us. I guess I hate the thought of not knowing what happened...but obviously I didn't care enough to get there myself.