So You Want to Break Up With a Book


Let’s face it: We have all had that moment. You know, the one where you cannot decide between throwing a book at the wall, or dismembering it and flushing it down the toilet. We’ve all been there. I recommend neither option, especially if you’re reading on an e-reader. Talk about a financial nightmare, no? Anyway, some of you are good at saying “nah, not for me”, putting the book down, and finding something more to your liking. And then there are those of us who… can’t. I have made no secret that it is near impossible for me to DNF a book, especially if it is for review. But I am getting better (I swear, I am) and have DNFed about three books. Progress, my friends. So I am here to guide you through the process of breaking a book’s heart while dealing with your own neuroses. With gifs, of course, because gifs are magic.

1. You’re plodding along, reading a book, and not all that into it. You are starting to realize that this book may not be for you. Because reasons. Reasons like:

  • Mind-numbing boredom This book is akin to watching paint dry. Actually, maybe that would be more fun, because in the end, your room would be painted. It isn’t even that you don’t care what happens, because nothing ever actually happens.boring
  • You do not care what happens. This is different than being bored. Maybe you hate the characters, or the plot, but they could all just fall into a chasm and you’d be giddy if it meant the end of the book.25451-tumblrm4ahjhodHo1r3bmu8gif-U9Pf
  • It offends you. Listen, this happens. Sometimes, books have a way of just not sitting well with you, hitting you in an uncomfortable spot. A book did that for me once, and I was out.helltothenoglee
  • You just don’t like it. You don’t always needs reasons, sometimes it just doesn’t work.I don't like you
  • It’s an awful book. I hate saying that any book is outright “awful”. I have only referred to maybe two books as such, because I seriously could not find a redeeming quality. It’s rare, but it happens!God-I-hate-you

2. You look at your bookcase, your Kindle, whatever and see… all the amazing books! These are the books you are basically longing for while you attempt to finish the book you are now getting mad at because not only do you not like it, but it is keeping you from all your other books. Remember, this is not the book’s fault, you will need to put the book down.original

3. There’s a solid attempt at justifying why you should/need to/must read said book.

  • You have a review copy. No one likes being “that guy” who tells a publisher that you had to DNF the book. No one.d
  • Even worse, it is directly from the author. These are the hardest for me. It’s why I don’t really accept many anymore, unless I am familiar with the author. It’s bad enough to report to the publisher that you disliked the book, but to the author? Awful.tumblr_mhy7ovRyq51s4xdz1o1_500
  • You paid for it! And you feel that you are letting your bank account down.
  • It was a gift. And how would Aunt Lisa feel if you DNFed that book she bought you for Arbor Day? How would Aunt Lisa feel? You’re just being selfless, that’s all.
  • You’re stubborn and/or like to finish what you started. This is a big one for me. But really, why? So I can plod through and then write a two-star (at best) review? Silliness.

4. The time has come to admit that you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t continue.Good for you! Oh wait, nevermind, because you think….

5. “Maybe I will try again later”. But you and I both know that isn’t happening. You may give it a passing glance, another thought, but actually picking it back up and finishing it? Chances are slim to none, and slim just left town.We_were_on_a_break

6. You finally admit it: This book shan’t be read by you. Do not despair, friend. You gave it a try. You gave it more than a try, you gave it several tries, and a laundry list of reasons to try to push through. Trust that you are doing no one any favors by continuing, and part ways. Your book will be happier to be left unread than to be toilet fodder anyway.



Bonus Step: Doubt, especially when you see a positive review of the book. Even worse if it is by someone whose tastes yours usually align with. Be strong, brave soldier. You’ve fought the good fight, now let yourself enjoy a nice Hunger Games reread in peace. Happy-reading-dash

Are you like me? Is it hard to DNF? Or do you have proper control of logic and are able to just move along? I want to know: What is the last book you DNFed? (Mine was 23316633

Posted December 1, 2014 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion / 25 Comments


25 responses to “So You Want to Break Up With a Book

  1. Great post! I actually posted something similar today about when it’s okay to just give up on a book. I think the ultimate sign for me is when I would rather do dishes than pick up my book. Haha

  2. I completely undrstand you! It’s so difficult for me to DNF a book that the last time I ended up DNFing one I had first spend a good two months trying to get through it. It wasn’t that it was bad, I just couldn’t get into it! It was The House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini. I still can’t look that book in the ‘eyes’…
    Amazing post! 😀

    • Aw thanks! I am really bad at it too, but lately, I am just too tired to care it seems. And the last time I pushed myself to finish one that I should have DNFed, it turned out to be a bad idea. So, maybe I am learning my lesson 😉

  3. I’m no stranger to DNFing books, there are way too many out there that I’m dying to read to waste my time and make myself read the ones I’m not enjoying. I know it’s to the DNF point when I find myself looking for other things to do instead of reading.

    • Yep, you are right- the episode of Friends in the background starts winning out, and you know you’ve got trouble! I think that is what has changed for me too, SO many amazing books, why waste time on what that isn’t working for me? Though it is taking me time to actually follow my advice 😉

  4. I am perpetually doing #5. Ross’s little “We’re on a break!” comment really hits home with me because that’s totally what I think. Maybe I’ll pick this book up later. You never know, right? Yeah, I never pick it up later. I especially do this with books that I received from authors because I don’t want to say I didn’t like it without actually reading the whole thing, but I also don’t want to keep reading right now. Right now. See how I did that?

    • Yes! That is the thing, even THINKING about picking it up later leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is doomed, but I don’t want to admit it.

      The author thing is the WORST. Because you feel bad either way- you feel bad by saying you didn’t like it/couldn’t finish, but then you also feel bad just leaving it in limbo. Ugh!

  5. Hahahaha, OMG, woman, this is brilliant!
    No, I don’t have problems with DNFing books. O was like you in the beginning, but I’m too old to waste my time on something that doesn’t hold my attention.

  6. Ha! This is so appropriate right now. AND ALL THE STEPS. I usually jut get to Step 1 and say bye bye, though I did push through with The Bone Season which for the first 60% was zzzzzzzzzzzzzz, and if I didn’t have a copy of The Mime Order I would’ve, BUT IT GOT BETTER. THAT USUALLY NEVER HAPPENS. But yeah, the harder ones are the review copies, physical ones mainly because I just feel bad, (though I’ve only done that once or twice, luckily) But see, you’re pushing yourself to DNF when you’re not feeling it, and I’m trying to push myself not to DNF when I’m not feeling it, we’re both getting better though! I haven’t DNF’D in 9 books (and up until then, it was 14, I’m proud and a little shocked) and it was The Walled City (which was a physical review copy and I still feel bad) 🙁 But obviously not that bad since I didn’t stick with it. 😉

    • Don’t feel bad about DNFing The Walled City. I did not like it. I kind of wished I hadn’t bothered. The ending annoyed me anyway. And good for you! That is impressive- I think you are actually on a better streak than I am right now!

  7. First of all, you’re right, gifs are magic!

    I used to really struggle with DNF-ing, back before I blogged about books and knew there was an actual term for it. But, I’ve come to realize that I read for fun, and if I hate a book and want to put it down/never want to pick it up, I’m obviously not having fun. It really does suck to DNF a review book, I always feel so bad, and then I worry that the publisher will never give me another review book again, like I’ve been put on some black list or something!

    I can’t really remember the last book I DNF-ed…(goes and checks goodreads)… Beau, Lee, The Bomb & Me. I hated the writing. The main character was very immature and there was an unnatural amount of exclamation points. So really, it was a lot like my comments!

    I read Gideon Lee and gave it like 3.5 stars, but I can definitely understand why you would have DNF-ed it.

    • Oh my goodness, I think the SAME thing! That the publisher will never want me to review a book again like “that ungrateful so and so!”.

      I felt SO bad for DNFing Gideon Lee, I think that was the one I have had the hardest time not finishing, because the author seemed really nice. But I knew I was either going to quietly DNF, or give a really bad review, so I chose to DNF. This Beau Lee thing sounds bad too. I am an over-exclamatorer (I made that word up just now, but I kind of like it) in comments and such, but not in a BOOK! Jeez.

  8. This is such a fantastic (and accurate!) post Shannon. 😀 Sometimes a book just doesn’t connect with us – character or plotwise – or for whatever other reason, and we feel like we just can’t continue reading it. Like you said, it’s SO hard to DNF a book – especially when it’s from a publisher / author / etc, but sometimes it’s what you have to do when you can feel that a book just isn’t working for you.

  9. Congrats on giving up 3 times! 🙂 I so needed this post! I just can’t give up! In my life there’s been only like 4 books I gave up on entirely. I need help! Yes!! I always convince myself I’m just setting it aside ‘for now’. There’s actually one book that I’ve started 3 times and stopped all at the same place. (Dresden Files 10, Small Favor) But I love that series!

    The last book I didn’t finish was The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
    It started off so good, but it quickly became awful and I just couldn’t do it. The middle felt like a completely different book from the beginning.

    • Ugh, I know, it is HARD. I used to finish no matter what. And now, I think back and wish I hadn’t, because what a waste of time! I am definitely getting better and DNFing, but now I almost face the opposite struggle- not DNFing every book I just kind of don’t like 😉

      And I get it with the series, that is SO much harder to DNF because you feel so invested. That is why I ended up reading thousands of The Mortal Instruments pages against my better judgment, ha.

  10. This post was spot-on and hilarious, Shannon – thank you so much for sharing! I’m very much like you – I find it very hard to DNF a book, especially if it’s for review. However, like you, I’m slowly getting better having DNFed my first ever book this year and DNF-ing three others since then. The last book I DNFed was Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer.

    • Aw thanks! It IS hard, isn’t it? Especially since the whole point of getting a book for review is to actually read it. But then I figured I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by giving it one star and picking it apart, so I think that helps in the DNFing decision too 🙂 Glad you are getting better at it too!

  11. I CANNOT DNF. Actually I can. I have before. It just makes me feel bad when I do. Also luckily I haven’t read any super bad books yet, because I am so good at choosing the books I want to read. But then there are some ARCs that just aren’t any good 😛 ARCs are usually what bring my average rating down, sadly.

    It’s so fun to review books you don’t like though. JUST THINK OF THE GIFS.

    Awesome discussion post Shannon! <3

    • Okay, confession: Sometimes I don’t DNF because I know the review will be really fun to write. The DNFs are the ones that your mind might actually fight back if you force it to go on, haha. ARCs are so hard, because you HAVE to go in blind.

  12. Haha, oh how I love this post! THE PAIN IS REAL!!! I struggle with this one so much, especially when it’s a review copy. Although I am a lot better at it now I blog. I started to realise it wasn’t worth wasting my time on a book that just wasn’t working for me. I hate having to tell the publisher that though.

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