Thursday, December 14, 2017

Discussion: How A Book Gets A DNF From Me

Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2017 Discussion Challenge.

Last month, I discussed how a book gets 5 stars from me, so this month, let’s do the opposite. What makes me quit? Here’s how a book ends up on my DNF (Did Not Finish) shelf on Goodreads.

What makes me quit?

Too Much Dialect

I’ve always been a slow reader. In school, I was that annoying kid who was still pondering question #1 when everyone else was finished with the quiz. I dislike anything that makes my reading even slower. Books with a lot of dialect tend to slow me down so much that I lose patience and give up. However, I did manage to get through Faulkner’s work and A Clockwork Orange in college, so *Pats self on back.*

It Feels Unfinished

This mostly happens with self-published books. I’m not interested in reading a first draft. If a book is full of typos and Creative Writing 101 mistakes, I’m not going to read it.

Google is a thing you should use

I’m usually pretty forgiving of research errors. I realize that authors make mistakes, and that it often takes massive amounts of research to write a book. It’s easy for an author to accidentally overlook something. Still, I occasionally wonder if authors even bother to Google the things they’re writing about.

It’s Unnecessarily Huge

Remember when I said I’m a slow reader? It takes me forever to finish a big book. If I feel like a book is padded with unnecessary fluff, I’m probably not going to finish it.

It Makes Me Feel Confused Or Stupid

Have you ever been reading a book and felt like you were completely missing the point? Like, whatever message the author was trying to send was not being received? I don’t mind reading challenging or weird books, but some of them just go way over my head. I don’t want bafflement to be the primary emotion I feel while reading.

Whine, Whine, Whine

Have you encountered this plot? A character—or an author in nonfiction—gets the opportunity to go on an amazing adventure. The character/author then spends the entire adventure whining about how miserable they are. Yeah. I’m not here to listen to you complain about your amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sorry.

Preach, Preach, Preach

I love it when stories have themes or morals, but I don’t want the moral to be the main point of the story. If the plot and characters only exist to teach me something, I’m going to get annoyed, even if I agree with the message. I can overlook this with fables and fairytales because I know that those exist to teach kids lessons, but if a novel suddenly turns preachy, I’m done.

Is This A Textbook?

I’m extremely picky about nonfiction. I only like narrative nonfiction. If a nonfiction book doesn’t have a plot, I’ll probably get bored. I also can’t stand textbook-like info-dumps in fiction. Too many of them will make my eyes glaze over.

What makes you give up on a book?


  1. I don't DNF as much as I should but as another slow reader, I hear ya! Certain dialect is too much for me and I need the length to make sense or else it is just too much.

  2. I agree with big books. So many of them don't need to be that long. I also agree about nonfition. I need more of a story with them.

  3. I mostly DNF books when I realize I don't care about the characters or the plot. I also have a bunch of stylistic things that turn me off (like lack of quotation marks and sentences as long as paragraphs!). I totally get not liking dialects or preachy books too!

  4. Usually it's the writing style that makes me DNF a book - like the tone I'm getting from the book, if it's pretentious or dry. If a character is obnoxious for no good reason, or I find myself rolling my eyes a lot - then I'll DNF.

  5. I hate books that take forever to get to the point. I hate over descriptive waffle, over-padded books that could easily be cut in half or books with weird or incomprehensible stories. I hate whiny, macho and obnoxious MCs. I'm not a great fan of drug addict/alcoholic heroes but can suffer it if the plot is great. Generally I DNF for being too slow and boring and for having characters I hate or a dumb plot.

  6. Totally agree with too much dialect, it's easily one of my biggest frustrations. Actually, I agree with pretty much all of these I think. Nonfiction is also always a tricky category, I definitely need more of a narrative or just something that isn't endless textbook-sounding info. Candace Millard has written some awesome nonfiction that really reads like actual stories, so she is always someone I trust to write something good, haha. And nothing is worse than feeling stupid as a result of a certain book--that's not why we read! Great post.

  7. Oh yes, huge books intimidate the hell out of me, and I hate when I'm confused in a book. I'm 100% likely to DNF then.

  8. you've made all good points. especially the endless info that nobody wants to know. I do not mind a long book if all the information is necessarily to move the story.

    I think the whining is mostly in ya books, well, at least in my experience but yeah, it's annoying if a character keeps complaining about his miserable misfortune but if they do it sarcastically, then it's another story.

    mostly what makes me give up reading a book is pure boredom. if I can't even get through a chapter without feeling like I'm reading a dictionary, then I would give up.

    but I don't usually give up a book completely, I would skim to the end to see if the ending is any good which sometimes does make me want to finish. so basically, it's really about the book itself.

    have a lovely day.

  9. hahah I agree with a lot of these, including preaching, whining, slow books. I tend to try and finish them, but it might take me a year as they sit on the back burner mocking me

  10. Dialect: I check before I commit. I'm glad I saw the movie for Trainspotting, because the book is not going to happen.

    Errors are annoying when they occur often. But if the plot is interesting, I'll still read it.

    I tend to stay away from big books. The longest I've read this year is 380 pages, and I only read it because it's by an author I knew to be talented.

    Huge difference between a fictional character whining and an author whining.

  11. I need to dnf more often than I do. Anytime I consider it but finish the book anyway, I end up wishing I had followed my instinct. I can only do so much dialect. If it is pretty easy to interpret then it isn't a problem but when I have to think about

  12. I'm horrible about DNFing, but these are definitely all reasons I won't enjoy a book. I know not to even bother trying to read non-fiction without a plot. And self-pubbed books that aren't well-edited are one of the few types of books I have no qualms about putting down.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  13. When it comes to dialect, sometimes I've found that I have better luck with it in audiobook - hearing it is definitely easier for me in that situation. :)

  14. Hahha the graphics made me chuckle. I am so bad with dialect too, but if I can eventually get past the initial struggle, I usually end up liking the thing. Whiny characters are a HUGE one for me. Several of my DNFs were because of that. And then mostly just sheer boredom, actually. I really do need to DNF more because these reasons are ALL really legit!

  15. Reason #1 is unnecessary fluff - overly descriptive books drive me crazy. I mean, I only really care about your shirt being blue if somehow contributes to the plot. Reason #2 'overly elaborate' language - sometimes I just feel like authors want to demonstrate that they know all the words :)

  16. I can completely understand, especially the whining, length, and any preaching. I DNF books where preaching is the main plot line, very quickly! I just can't stand it. I also agree with the dialect thing. I finished A Clockwork Orange also, but it was horrible! I had to make myself finish it. I did enjoy the ending, so I'm glad I did, but what a headache!

    Great post!

  17. This post made me laugh so much! Your points are all so true! I try not to DNF books as I am ever optimistic that it will improve, but sometimes you just can't help but put it down.

  18. The last few books I DNFed were all due to character flaws. I am a character driven reader, so if I have to like and care about the characters (usually). If I find them annoying or their voice grating, I usually abandon ship. I also tend to DNF if the book is too depressing. If I feel myself slipping into a dark mood because of a book, I will set it aside.

  19. I weirdly have this thing about continuing read books even when I'm not really enjoying them so I rarely DNF. Having said that, last month I gave up on The Dice Man - whiny and very unpleasant central character - and this month a poetry book I'd been looking forward to - Salvage - was so far over my head it completely lost me!

  20. I've been trying to DNF more, actually. Because I've slogged through some terrible books and my time is worth more than that. I mostly DNF when I'm bored and find the book duuuulll.

  21. Those are pretty much the same reasons for me.

  22. My reasons for DNF are similar to yours. Long books are a struggle and if I find I've been reading one book for too long I will stop wanting to read because I am convinced there are better books waiting for me. It's why I like to finish books as quickly as possible. I also struggle if it makes me think too hard to figure out what's going on and if it makes me feel dumb.

  23. I am so with you on all of these but especially on the HUGE tomes. I read at a snail's pace and for every "A Little Life" or "It", I feel I could've read 4 or 5 books.

  24. I don't really DNF books, but I am a skim reader for books that make me want to DNF. But YES to It Makes Me Feel Confused Or Stupid! I read a book earlier this year that had over 100 made up words and ranks and I just couldn't get it. Sigh. Every single chapter I kept looking at the dictionary in the index and it was too much work. Here's hoping we don't run across any of these types of books in 2018! Fingers crossed!!
    Jen @ Star-Crossed Book Blog

  25. I rarely DNF. But what makes me really dislike a book is when it is too preachy or whiney too. And I totally agree about books which have too many errors. I'm all for self-published, but finished self-published works please!