Image Map

Discussion: How Do You Handle DNF Books?

How do you handle DNF books?

How Do You Handle DNF Books?

All right, I have another question, gulp…. You know when you are reading a book and it’s just not working for you. Maybe it’s the editing, maybe it’s the characters, maybe it’s just too freaking slow. Maybe you have some rule about abuse or scary things. DNF stands for Did-Not-Finish and DNF books are just frustrating. If the book is a for fun book then it just sucks that you might have paid money for a book you didn’t like. But if it is a review book, it can become a little sticky….

Try Again Later?

If there is time (ie not a close deadline), do you ever try the book again later. This obviously won’t work if the book breaks a hard and fast rule of yours, but have you ever run into a situation where you just weren’t in the right state of mind for the book that put it in the DNF books pile? I’ve found myself worrying with review books that I’m not putting enough effort into trying to finish DNF books, and wondering if I should try them again later, but I would really be interested to hear if this has actually worked for anyone. The only situation this has ever worked for me was with Eldest, you know, with the dragon. I hated that book when I was younger, and then actually quite enjoyed it in college when I tried again…. Was this a fluke though? Have you had luck with this? Or do you even bother? Should a book be good enough to grab you on the first try or not?

Posting About Them

The other sticky part is posting about DNF books. Obviously you have a right to post your honest opinion, but I’ve heard the argument that you didn’t finish the book and so can’t have an honest opinion. I, at least, don’t think this is fair though. I think that if I’m honest about the fact that it is a DNF book, and perhaps how far I got, then it is fair to point out what made it impossible for me to finish. I try to always think about what would be valuable for my readers, and I really think that knowing that a book was so horrible that I couldn’t finish it would be valuable for you all to know! Heck, I like to read DNF posts as warnings to stay away from said book if I have the same triggers as the writer of the post did. Perhaps posting the review on Goodreads is different though, since that rating goes into the overall rating?

In Tours

It’s happened to me once that I’ve hated a book that was in a tour. That was a bit awkward. I know that some tours now request that if you don’t like the book, simply tell them and either bow out or get something different to post. I’m not sure how I feel about that, since it feels like trying to cover up the opinion of the reviewer. At the same time, I understand that the tour is about promoting the book, and bashing it doesn’t help that. Generally, I guess, I would hold off and post whatever I wanted to say after the tour, in respect to the hard work the tour host put in, but it still gives me the heebie jeebies a little bit. What do you all think about this one? I know some of you out there host tours as well, run into any hard situations with this?

Along with all the awesome books that we find comes some DNF books, but the blogging community seems a little split on how we should actually handle DNF books. What are you thoughts?

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings-A

© 2012, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. When I DNF a book I might think I will pick it up later, but so far I have never done so. I do have the feeling that sometiems I just wans’t in the right mood as I am a moodreader and it can depend on my mood if I enjoy a book or not. I always write a review of a DNF book on goodreads, but don’t post them on my blog. I do emphasize till what point I read as in my opinion I can have an honest opinion about that part at least. I do feel like I can’t judge the full book so i don’t rate books I DNF. I alwasy find DNF’s difficult as I hate not finishing a book, but I rather DNF than read a book I don’t enjoy. Especially with review books I fidn it hard to tell the authro I ddn’t finish their book, same as with a 2 star review.

    I am a tour organizer myself so I understand both sides. I do feel it’s acceptable to ask reviewers to hold off posting their review until after the tour, I don’t feel it’s right to ask them to never post the review. But don’t post it as part of the tour as that’s just icky. And it is weird for the author and makes the tour organizer look bad. Authors do book a tour to promote their book and as a tour organizer I try to promtoe eahc stop, but it feels weird if the blogger can then post a negative review. So I think it’s reasonable to ask those won’t be posted during the tour. I know negative reviews can help people pick up a book, but in general most people who reply on my blog to a negative review rather stay away than pick it up. Most times when a blogger didn’t like the book they let me know and I ask them if they want another type of stop or sometiems they bow out, most are okay with posting an excerpt instead.

    Great topic!
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Red Curry with Pineapple RecipeMy Profile

    • Yeah, the problem with realizing that I’m in the wrong mood is that my association with that book is now soured and so even if I’m in the right mood later, I just feel more inclined to read something else whereas if I had waited, it would have been fine D: But yeah, I keep feeling like someday I might post DNF reviews from goodreads onto the blog, but just feel like using that post space for something that I actually want to promote instead *shrugs*

      I’ve honestly started avoiding agreeing to review for tours since I don’t want to put either of us in that situation unless I’ve already read the book so I can be sure! The problem is I don’t like posting excerpts or not original content either so I prefer to do a guest post or giveaway and then review the book on my own time when I can be sure. I also sometimes feel weird since I always point out flaws in every book and it feels like tour organizers might not like that?

      • I have the same if I already started a book once and then DNF’d it, I already have bad associations with that book and the chance is small I can give it another chance then. I sometiems consider postign my DNf reviews on my blog, but most of them are pretty short and not really reviews I want to share on my blog. I don’t put as much effort in my DNF reviews, so I don’t feel comfortable posting them on my blog. Maybe that will chance eventually, but for now I just post them on goodreads and leave it at that.

        I personally don’t mind if reviewers point out flaws in each book as I do the same. Even my 5 and 4 star reviews often have mentions of things I liked less. I also don’t mind if reviewers during a tour switch to a guest post or interview when they don’t like the book, although they do have to let me know in tiem so the author still has time to write the post. I even had some bloggers drop out from the tour if they didn’t like a book, which I also understand. Again that’s only how work and other tour organizers might work different. I am okay with most things as long as the blogger let me know, so i also know what’s going on and can change things on the schedule.

        As a blogger I don’t sign-up for a lot of tours except if it’s an author I already know or want to promote extra. I don’t like the pressure of reviewing before a certain date and only accept if it’s a book I really want to read. I am a moodreader and often feel like if I force myself to read a book I am not in the mood for I enjoy it less.
        Lola recently posted…Review: Bride on the Run by Catherine Mann and Joanne RockMy Profile

        • Yeah, generally once I DNF I just don’t want to think about the book anymore to even type anything more than a few sentences, haha!

          It’s so good of you to be so understanding with blog tours, it definitely seems the best approach to make sure the blog tour has high quality but honest content!

          Exactly, my life seems so crazy these days that agreeing to any hard date is so hard for me haha. I’m even trying to get to the point where I have very few requested review copies waiting on me so I can read one as soon as I get it and then not worry about the pressure. It was great going to ALA this year so that I have books I want to read but don’t have as much pressure if things get too crazy schedule-wise.

  2. I have a “try again later” shelf on Goodreads, but I haven’t actually got back to any of them yet! It’s tricky with review books though – if it’s a Netgalley, I generally post a review on Goodreads and tell the publisher I won’t review it on the blog.

    • Hehe, I know that feeling. For a while I was convinced I would magically find time and get to all the older books that I was only meh about reading, and then I realized it just wasn’t going to happen and it was silly to feel guilty about it. That’s basically what I do on NetGalley as well! It’s still feedback after all

  3. Sometimes I will try again later but if there was nothing to like than no! I have definitely been requested to review something and quickly realized I hated the book. I usually go ahead and post my review just because I feel like I need to be honest even if it hurts someone’s feelings!

    • Exactly, I really hate hurting the author’s feelings, especially if I think they are likely to check back at the blog, but at the same time, if I’m not honest, then why should anyone read my posts? Not posting about a book that I really really disliked seems dishonest along the same lines in a lot of ways….

  4. I have definitely gotten books on tours which I ended up not loving, as well as books for review which I normally would never have taken the time to finish. In these cases, it’s difficult… I would say for most tours, I feel much pretty much obligated to post about the book on your blog and to not completely bash it, even if I do point out flaws– like you said, tours are about promoting a book.

    For books I’m just reading for fun, the protocol is so much simpler. If it’s a library book that I really can’t get into, then I will definitely not mind marking it off as a DNF. For a book I bought myself, I will almost always go back and try to read it again in a few weeks or even years. And this has actually worked for me on more than a few occasions. An example is Let the Right One In (the vampire book). I really couldn’t get into the writing style when I first tried to read it, then nearly two years later, I tried again and the book ended up becoming a new favorite. Weird how that can happen. I guess sometimes we just feel more compelled to keep reading, or more generous towards the author, and sometimes not so much. :)

  5. I’d feel really awkward if I didn’t like a book on a book tour – which is why I don’t do any. But I definitely see your point on holding off before publishing that negative review. I try my hardest to finish a book – I’ll even skim some pages to make it through to the end. Usually if I don’t finish, I’m about 3/4 of the way in and maybe spent a month trying to read it. That far in, I’d probably make a note of it in a post on my blog. If I read 10% or less of a book before I put it down – I won’t discuss it, because it’s probably just not for me.

  6. I actually have had luck by picking up a DNF a few months later. Maybe the book was really dense and I happened to be reading it during a really busy time in my life, pick it up a few months later when real life has slowed down, and I can give the book the attention it needs and everything is OK. This doesn’t work all the time, but it has worked.

    usually if I get an ARC, I’ll commit to myself that I’m going to finish it and review it, and I have posted just a few DNF reviews. but hey, life is too short for garbage books, right? if the book truly sucks, and just isn’t at all for me, and i’m 100 pages and can’t see myself finishing it, i put it down, never to touch it again, and I doubt that I’d even mention it on the blog.

    as for book tours, I’ve never done one, but I can completely understand how horribly awkward it would be to dislike a book that you are on a tour for!

  7. Hannah @ Once Upon A Time says:

    Personally, if I’m not enjoying a book I might put it on hold unless I’m REALLY not feeling it, then I’ll DNF it. If it’s on hold.. takes a lot to get me back to the book because it’s usually on hold due to reading moods.

    My opinion? Whilst I’m too lazy to do so, if a book is DNFed, it’s DNFed for a reason and that reason might well be worth sharing with others so they know if it’s something to avoid wasting time on.

  8. This is a very good question that applies to the book blogging world in a huge way, and I think you make some excellent points in your post. Sometimes, it’s just not the right time and the book couldn’t bring you in or the characters aren’t making you feel for their situation. It happens all the time, and as a librarian, I would not look down on anyone who has ore (or more) DNF book on their shelves. With the amount of free time you have, you can only put your effort into books that you are really enjoying, and if you force yourself to finish a book, then you’re taking away your enjoyment of reading. I would rather a person not finish two books they weren’t enjoying so they might read a book they did enjoy. And I know this from personal experience.

    Not all readers are going to enjoy the same book. It’s not feasible for over 6 billion people to like one solitary book. (And if it was feasible, I’d want at least 10 copies for my library.) In that same vein, if you didn’t finish a book especially because you weren’t enjoying it, there’s no reason you should have to review it. How can you review a book fully if you have gotten beyond page 50 or chapter 3 (my usual amounts that I give a book to draw me in)? I would rather allow someone who has finished the book to explain what good points it has and where it needs improvement than to give a DNF book a teeny review. I know some bloggers do a DNF post, and that’s good, too, because perhaps it gives them closure or a means of explaining why they didn’t get into Title X. It really does depend on what you feel is the right thing to do.

    Great post. :)

    • Thanks so much for responding! I think part of my stress is that I feel pressure to get so much content out that if I spend a week on a book and then can’t finish it, I still want to be able to write something about it… and it still seems like I could write something that would be valuable to someone thinking about reading it.

      It’s definitely true that no book is going to appeal to everyone, but some things, like good editing, seem like obvious problems that a buyer should be aware of… I agree that you certainly can’t give the same kind of review if you haven’t finished the book as someone who has (and page 50 is probably a good cutoff, since 50 pages could probably be pushed through for every book), but maybe explaining why you couldn’t finish it? I don’t mean to be contrary, I guess I just want to be as helpful as possible, haha. Do you think that reading DNF reviews would be helpful to you if you were deciding whether to get a book for your library for example? Or just to read it yourself, if the review came from a blogger who had similar tastes to you?

  9. It’s a valid question and all your points are good ones. I think you just have to do what you feel is right. I seem to have a lot DNF books these days. I’m not sure why because I never used to be this way. Is it because I’m less invested in the way I find a book? That low cost books and e-books make them worth less? Or maybe I’m just overwhelmed with choices and I’m having a hard time finding things that really capture my interest?

    I don’t review DNF books myself. Most of the time DNF means that I’m not this book’s intended audience. Now, if I stop for reasons of poor quality, that’s different. I’ve stopped reading books like that before, but I *generally* don’t post negative reviews. I have no desire to post anything under a three star – I’d rather hold my opinion than do that. It probably makes me a less than ideal reviewer, but that’s just how I feel. There are plenty of people who have no issue with handing out low ratings, they really don’t need my hesitant two star review to average things out. I think that over time, the true rating of a book reveals itself and that will happen whether or not I post my review.

    I’d never give a book one star. If I felt that negative about the story, then I made a poor decision in choosing to read the book.

    I don’t host a lot of tours, I’m very picky when it comes to that for just this reason. But recently I was asked to promote a product on another blog I run. It involved nice *incentives* so I said yes. But once I tried the product, it was horrible. I wrote the organizer back and told her I wasn’t interested, but thank you very much. I think book tours are probably the same way – you sign up to promote a book so that becomes your *job* in the agreement. If you can’t get behind the book, maybe the best way to handle it is to bow out altogether and if you still feel it’s necessary to blog about your feelings on this book, do it outside of the tour.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts! I definitely know the feeling of so many low cost and free ebooks out there and so many books on the TBR pile that it seems like I’m DNFing books more frequently than I ever did before. I agree that if I’m just not the books intended audience, that isn’t the books fault, but when the book is low quality, I feel a need to warn my readers of that.

      I find it interesting that you don’t like to post low star reviews, since I’ve also heard other people worry that they don’t post enough low star reviews, but that’s obviously all about a blogger’s personal preference ;-).

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge