How do you decide when to give up on a book?

by Katie
Published: Last Updated on

Recently I (Katie) found myself slogging through a book that I’d been looking forward to for months. I kept pushing through because it was an author I liked and the plot sounded intriguing, but I found myself thinking “hurry up and get to the point” on so many occasions that I eventually gave up.

Deciding to DNF a book is always rough for me, what if I’m just a few pages away from starting to love it?! But the reality is I have limited time and reading books I’m not looking forward to makes me less inclined to read overall. I asked the other LQers to chime in on this topic and everyone had some great thoughts to share about when to walk away.


I have such a rough time DNFing books! Recently, though, I’ve gotten a little better at it. With a toddler running around, I really don’t get as much time to read and I need to get choosy! No more powering through just for the sake of finishing what I started.


I always have a hard time DNFing a book! I think I always feel like if I started it, I have to finish it.
For me, I know when I need to put a book down if I find myself feeling worse after I read it than when I began. I just had to put down Educated because, while it was a really well-written and important story, it was just too saddening.


I don’t have a set process for DNFing a book (although that would probably help…). Just recently, I stopped reading one because I found myself choosing other books over it time and time again. So, I guess that’s one of my strongest indicators. If the book is dragging on and I don’t feel like returning to it, it’s a strong candidate for DNF.

I’m generally not the type to return to a book that I DNF years later, either. It’s probably something I should consider, but at the same time I don’t want to waste any more time on a book I might not like!


I think we’ll see that most LQers (and most of our readers) just objectively suck at the DNF. Here’s how I know I’ve got one though: I don’t make it through the first 100 pages. Then I go back, read the last 50, and STILL don’t make any measurable progress. I might try one more time (cough The Hobbit…3rd time’s a charm) and honestly usually I tell myself I’ll try again later…but somehow it just doesn’t seem to end up on my TBR pile by my bed and mysteriously disappears into the void that is my bookshelf. I can also count on one hand the number of times that this has happened, ALTHOUGH (and I consider this progress) since I started reading upwards of 50 books a year, it happens more – maybe one per year?!


I agree completely with what everyone else has said so far in terms of knowing when to throw in the towel with a book. My biggest indicator is when it feels like reading the book is a chore, something I have to do rather than something I want to do. I’ve tried a few times to re-start and re-read some books that I’ve not finished, but usually been unsuccessful and just ended up reading the same pages three or four times.


Tell us below how and when you choose to DNF!

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