Finding the Strength to DNF a Book (Especially a Popular One)

Finding the Strength to DNF a Book (Especially a Popular One)


Okay. This may be a controversial thing to say, but it is okay to DNF a book. Yes, even if it’s an extremely popular one.

Stay with us.

In case you’re not familiar with this term (or are too afraid to ask at this point), DNF stands for, “did not finish,” and is exactly as straightforward as it seems. It means that for whatever reason, you decided to walk away from a book without making it to the end.

And a lot of people have a lot of feelings about DNFing books. Let’s break it down and explain why we think it’s perfectly fine to make this decision for yourself.

The Internal Struggle

You may be asking why this is such a big deal. If you’re not someone who beats themself up over putting a book down for good, we commend you. That’s awesome. Keep doing you.

And if you’re adamant that you will always finish every book you start and you are never tempted to DNF, that’s also cool with us.

However, a lot of us have a whole internal war every time we’re tempted to DNF a book. We ask ourselves:

  • What if the book gets better?
  • What if my fellow readers judge me for not finishing what I started?
  • What am I missing?

This is even more true if the book seems to be universally liked. There’s this outsider feeling that comes with not “getting it” when you just aren’t clicking with a popular book. And yes, that can feel not great, but it’s so much more important to be true to yourself than be part of the crowd just because. (Yes, we can be super corny. We’re not ashamed.)

Sometimes, you may not want to let go of the feeling of accomplishment you get when you turn to that last page and find out how the story ends. Not finishing a book is simply unsatisfying, and that doesn’t sit right with a lot of us.

That’s super tough when every single page you’re reading feels like a slog.

So, what do you DO?!

Good Reasons to DNF a Book

Sometimes, we need the validation of someone telling us it’s okay to do the thing we want to do. So, let us provide some positive peer pressure by sharing the situations in which we think it’s okay to put that book down.

Here are some totally valid reasons to DNF a book:

  • The main character is annoying you.
  • The setting doesn’t feel authentic to you.
  • You aren’t really invested in the plot.
  • The prose or writing style isn’t your taste.
  • It feels like a chore to read.
  • There are other books you’d rather read in that moment.
  • You quite simply don’t feel like finishing this book.

That’s right. To us, “I just don’t feel like reading it anymore,” is a good enough reason to stop. It’s okay! There is truly no shame in it.

If the main love interest gives you the ick and makes you want to run away, you run away. Go, sprint into another book boyfriend’s arms. (We’d call that a form of self-care, tbh.)

Not Everything is For Everyone

Every reader has different tastes. That’s why there are so many sections in the bookstore.

The simple fact is that not everything is made for everyone. Even if a ton of people like a particular book, you aren’t necessarily one of them. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, or you think less of the people who do like it. It just means it wasn’t your cup of tea.

And truly, what is wrong with that? You gave the book a shot, and that’s the best you could do.

As one member of our team likes to say, “Life is too short and my TBR is too long.” You don’t need to spend your time battling through a book you don’t want to proudly display on your shelf. It’s best to move on to the next book on your list, and maybe find your next five-star read. How exciting is that?!

Once you focus on the potential joy of only reading what you love, it becomes a lot easier to DNF a book at isn’t satisfying you. And then, reading is always a glorious experience.

Okay, okay. We’ll get down from our soapbox and let you get back to reading. Just know that if you’re ever struggling to DNF a book, we’re here to support you.

What’s your personal DNF philosophy? Tell us about it in the comments, then go find a book you want to devour in a single sitting. We can’t wait to hear all about it!


Maria x
Maria x

I needed this blog! I feel the guilt when I’m not into a book, that I spent the money on it and need to finish it… that mindset is unfair on me, and my TBR is too big!
Also thanks for the comment above, I like having a rule to apply so I’ll take your “this plus two chapters”


I used to force myself to finish books that I wanted to DNF, but didn’t and I realized that it would put me in such a slump because it would turn me
off to reading. Now, if I find myself not liking a book, I give it the remaining of the chapter I’m on and 2 additional chapters. If I still don’t like it by then, then I DNF.

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.