Musings on DNF books and guilty feelings

So I was reading a digital ARC of a book that I was SUPER excited about. It had lots of buzz. I was excited to finally get accepted to read it on Edelweiss (my complicated love/hate relationship with Edelweiss is another post for another day). Off I went to download it and start reading!


And I started reading! And it was...okay. I thought fine, I get that some books take time to get momentum. I'll keep waiting.

And I kept waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Still wasn't feeling the story. Or the characters. It felt 2 dimensional, predictable, and blech.

Y'all know where this is going.


Do I finish this book because Joe Foster waved his magic wand and allowed me to read the title? (I like to pretend it is in fact Joe doing all of the granting and that he also possesses a magic wand. Deal.) How much longer do I keep trying? Can I throw in the towel without that affecting my chances at reading future titles by this author/publisher/Edelweiss?

After much debate and inner turmoil (and more trudging through of the book), I decided to be grown up about my decisions and just say NO. This book isn't working for me. I don't want to read it. I will not feel guilty about not wanting to read a book I'm not enjoying. SO THERE.


Phew. First phase down. Now to the second phase of the dreaded DNF process.

Should I keep the book on my TBR to revisit later? Maybe it is a good book but I'm just in the wrong mood for it? Will I come around later? What if I miss out on a super awesome happy funtime read because I wasn't in the mood for it!

Please, please tell me I am not the only one this neurotic about such things. Please?


Here's my conclusion to these rambling thoughts. Do you ever put a book you  marked as DNF back on your TBR, or do you just let it go to the wind? Do you feel guilty or not? At what point in a book do you just say NOOOOOO and set it down and walk away and give no cares about it ever again?




Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

25 comments:

  1. I know myself pretty well, so if I DNF it because it's not working for me the first time around, I know it won't be any different with the second attempt. Sometimes, a book just isn't for you no matter how much everyone else seems to love it. If it's a real book, donate it to a charity and move on to the next one in your TBR :)

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    1. I think that's what I need to be better about - knowing when it's just not for me and being okay with that.

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  2. I think there is a difference between reading a book and either being bored stiff or hating the writing style/setting/characters/etc VERSUS just thinking "man, I'm not in the mood for a historical/paranormal/this much drama/whatever". I can usually tell pretty easily if it's the actual book I'm fed up with or just the weird mood I'm in.

    If its the book? I've gotten pretty merciless. I'll delete that sucker off my GR shelves so fast it'd make your head spin. ;)

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    1. I agree with you, Allison! I need to get better about discerning between the two. How do you do it?!

      I am also starting to embrace the mercilessness. No time for that! There are TOO MANY BOOKS to waste reading one based out of guilt, you know?

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  3. Personally, it depends on the book. I've come to a point where I'm okay with putting a book down for whatever the reason may be. Sometimes it's as simple as the mood I'm in or that it wasn't clicking with me at that moment. In those cases it is a book I'll put back in the TBR pile because hey, second chances can be worth it.
    There are those books though that I just can't stand for whatever reasons (characters, writing, etc) and I don't feel guilty about putting them down and never looking back because we can't all love every single book we open. We can be honest about why we didn't like a book and people can make their own decisions about reading it seeing as that's what they'd probably have done in the first place.
    Long story short, in my opinion its about doing whats right for you and not feeling guilty about it.

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    1. Thank you, Hannah, for trying to help me rid myself of the guilty feels!

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  4. This might be jumping the gun but when I DNF I make the book disappear. That's probably terrible of me, but I think if I saw reviews or some of you guys were gushing over something that didn't work for me at that time, I would give it another whirl and re-add it. That is a nice thing about GR. You can add and delete!! haha.

    Good for you for knowing when to put your foot down. I had a similar situation last week where I started a book I had been so excited for and I realized I was at the gym doing anything but looking at my Nook. That is normally NOT the case. After a subway ride home where I literally didn't take in anything I was reading, I decided it was best if I move on. I think (hope) (and if they aren't they should be) most publishers understand that every reader isn't going to hip hip hooray over every book. It's not like you DNFing EVERYTHING you download. (Right? ;) There are so many wonderful books out there and you have to spend your time on THOSE. (This is something I repeat to myself a lot as I come to a decision about DNFing.)

    :D You have reminded me that James and I need to catch up on our P&R.

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    1. You're so right - I do NOT DNF everything I download! I did try to explain in as much detail as I can what I did like about the title and why it didn't work for me. Hopefully that counts as something. If not, I really do need to let it go because there are so many books in the world that are already published and waiting for me!

      Thank you for your sage advice.

      Now go hang out with Leslie Knope, please.

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  5. LOLOLO JOE FOSTER! OMG I LOVE HATE EDELWEISS TOO. Everything is the same.

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    1. I love you and everything about this.

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  6. I think there are way too many books I want to read that I can't waste time with a book that's not doing it for me. One thing I do though if I'm finding I'm not into a book is check reviews and blogs or ask my blogger friends. Maybe the beginning is slower. Maybe there's a huge shocker. I'll continue reading if I know these things in advance.

    However, sometimes books just don't work for me. And I think that's okay. I'm getting okay with not finishing books. As far as taking them off my Goodreads list... I don't really even think about it. I do have a "Not going to read" list that I use for books that I don't finish or don't want to read anymore. Makes it easier to purge them every so often!

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    1. I feel like you are totally right with there being too many books and too little time and it's a waste of time to read things that aren't working.

      I love the "not going to read" list idea.

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  7. So now every I read an eARC, I'm going to picture Joe Foster as a magical book wish-granting fairy in the digital sky. Awesome.

    When I decide to DNF an eARC, I shoot an email for feedback and delete the book. I know that I'm not going to go back to it before the pub date. If I don't, it feels like homework sitting on a list of unfinished tasks, which is DOOM for me ever wanting to read it again. Sometimes I come back to the book, which is awesome, but that really only happens like 5% of the time. I feel much more free just moving on to things I love. It's all a mental game I play with myself, I guess!

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    1. You're welcome for the Joe Foster visual. :)

      YES - DNFing and eARC is so stressful to the unfinished tasks list. Moving on is definitely the way to go!

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  8. This is a great discussion! If I mark a book as DNF it's dead to me. I will however, if I'm reading and I think it's just me and my mood or whatever and not the actual book, pause a book to come back to later. Usually I try to give a book 50 pages or so before I made a decision, but there have certainly been books I knew from the outset weren't for me. When I decide between DNF and pause I tend to ask myself if there's something going on in my life to make me not click with this book now; if this is a book that I *should* like or if it's something I'm reading because I feel like I *should* for whatever reason; and/or if it's been well received by people I respect. If I think it's me, I should like it, and/or if other people are liking it it's generally a pause, otherwise a DNF.

    For me I don't look at ARCs or eARCs any differently than books I get from the library or buy. I do think publishers expect reviewers to read books that they receive, but I also think they realize that it's not always going to happen and as long as it's not a common occurrence I don't think it's a big deal. And most publicists are so stretched thin sadly I doubt they even notice.

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    1. You make a good, yet sad, point about the publicists.

      If I'm trying to read a book and it isn't working for me, I usually give it at least 50 pages as well. I feel like that's a good rule of thumb!

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  9. I wish I had a straight forward answer to your question. If I picked up a book on my own, meaning it wasn't given to me to read for review, then I have no problem marking it as DNF and never taking a second look at it again. But, I have mixed feelings when it's a review book.. like there's this obligation to come back to it? I know, so weird, but it's true. But when a book just isn't working out for you, it's just not working out -- ya know? Best to end the relationship now, then drag it out longer, only to cause more heartbreak for both parties involved. HAHA Okay I just made myself laugh there. But seriously, it's kinda the same thing!

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    1. I love the comparison like a relationship. SO GOOD. And yes, it's mostly review books that I have the guilty feels about. Other books I have no problem saying NOPE when it's time to say nope.

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  10. It's not often I DNF a book, but if I do, and it's a review book, I definitely feel ore guilty about it. And no, I generally do not pick it up again. It's a shame, but we can't love every book :(

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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  11. The GIFS in this post make my life. But yes, I have the similar guilt over not finishing books, especially when they are titles I was super excited about!

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  12. I JUST wrote about this a week or so ago, you aren't neurotic, I get crazy guilt and OCD-Bookish feelings about this! http://confessionsofabookgeek.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/rant-where-have-all-the-reviews-gone/

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  13. Ah! Great post! I cull my TBR list about twice a year. I usually do a post about it, so that I can (kinda) keep track of what I decided to drop.

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  14. If I'm not feeling the book and just hate I send feedback and forget about the book after I've put it down . There are so many other books to read . Lovely post

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  15. Sometimes you just have to DNF a book. I hate doing it, too, but it's necessary on occasion and I don't think you need to feel guilty for it if you really can't get into the book.

    (P.S. A+ Parks and Rec gif usage)

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  16. Hiyaaaa! So, I liked your question about whether you put a DNF back on your TBR or just let it go. For me, it really depends. If I stop reading a book because I actively dislike the characters/the writing/the plot, etc., then I just let it go. But if I put a book down because it's dragging or just not holding my interest or isn't what I'm in the mood for, I'll put it back on my TBR if I think the problem is more *me* than the book. But if the book is the problem? Yeah, bye book!

    And I don't usually feel too guilty about it, even if it's a review book. There are so many books I love that other people disliked and vice versa, so I know that even if I stop reading a book there are still plenty of other readers who'll find so much to love about it. And I agree with Ginger - better to put it down and know it's not for you then drag it out and end up hating it even more by the end!

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