• Mel Leslie

DNF-the bookworm's version of the D word

Updated: Mar 30


"Life is too short to read a bad book." -James Joyce

Prior to joining the book community, I had never heard of the term "DNF." DNF simply stands for "Did not finish." Simple as that. But what sounds simple, is actually incredibly hard for bookworms like myself. I used to feel this sense of obligation when I read, feeling as though I had to stick it out until the end, even if I was not connecting with the story. This past year, I have read almost 100 books, but I also have not finished several books. These fit into that tidy category of DNF and are there for different reasons. Below are books that I chose to DNF, my reasoning behind my decision, and the steps I take before I put a book in the DNF category.

You may, or may not, agree with me, but I am trying to be more open to DNF books that I am not completely invested in. As Henry David Thoreau once said, "Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."


1. The Current

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I love reading books by Midwest authors, especially when they are set in Minnesota or Wisconsin. I got through a couple of hours of The Current on audio and just could not do it. It was slow, boring, and I could barely connect with any of the characters. This one is over ten hours long on audio, but I decided it was not worth the commitment.


2. The Au Pair

I had seen this one floating around bookstagram, plus the synopsis drew me in. Thriller set in England, involving a strange family and their au pair? Sign me up. Except it fizzled right from the start. I trudged about half way in before I decided to call it quits. The storyline was dull and overused. Ultimately, I had much better books waiting to be read so this one was put to the side.


3. Furious Hours

Another one that I got half way through before I got bored with it. I love reading true crime and had been eyeing up Furious Hours almost every trip to the library. I saw a five start review on Instagram and decided to take the plunge during Nonfiction November. The book is split into three sections, the first of which was interesting, but the second of which could not hold my attention. I ended up returning this one to the library before I finished it.


4. The Family Next Door

This true crime story about the horrible treatment of children ranging in ages from toddler age to early 20's is incredibly sad and horrific. There is only so much I can read about child abuse before I just cannot stomach it. The writing was sub-par and lacked much depth and felt repetative at times. The Family Next Door just was not for me.


5. Beneath a Scarlet Sky

This one has been sitting on my Kindle at 25% read for atleast eight months....need I say more? Just the fact that I have not returned to it are a sign that finishing this book is not written in the stars for me.


6. Renia's Diary

I am grateful to the publisher of Renia's Diary for offering me the chance to read and review an ARC, but the diary format of this book made it incredibly difficult to read. It lost my attention at times and though I respect the story and the book's concept, I felt it could have been executed better.


7. Ninth House

I will probably get a lot of flack for this, but around 175 pages in, I set Ninth House to the side. There is a chance that I will return to it someday, but at the moment, it is sitting in my DNF category. I did not realize how much fantasy this book really had. I saw the rave reviews on bookstagram, from readers that I know and love, but the story was more gruesome and depressing than I anticipated. The fantasy aspect makes it confusing and hard to keep track of who is who and what is what. That is a big reason why I do not typically read fantasy. There are true crime/nonfiction people and there are fantasy people. I am on the former.


You have had a chance to read about some books that I DNF and my reasoning behind my decision, here is the route I take before I determine I am going to stop reading a book.


1. Give it 100 pages

Give each book a chance. I am a mood reader and what I read before and the mood I am in can dictate my thoughts on a book. I try and give it a solid 100 pages before I make any decisions about throwing in the towel.


2. Put it down and pick it up days, or weeks, later

I do this occasionally and have had it work (hence, why I am a mood reader.) Sometimes the content speaks to me if I try it another time. I might do this with Ninth House, but have not committed just yet.


3. Seek advice from trusted book friends

I love reading book reviews and most of my reading list is based off of what others have recommended. I have several trusted and loved bookworms that I go to if I am not feeling a book. You know that old dating breakup line, "It's not you, it's me"? I swear, I feel that with books! Is it the book or am I just being overly analytical? Checking in with trusted book friends is a great way to get an answer.

I hope I have inspired some of you to be more open to DNF books. I used to NEVER not finish a book and I would slowly suffer through it, just to get to the end. This community has opened my eyes to countless amazing books. And like James Joyce said, "Life is too short to read bad books."


Happy reading! Mel

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