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At What Point Do You DNF?

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In a recent discussion in the internal SBTB Slack, Lara asked:

After a reading slump, I am powering through my TBR pile and it feels great! But it got me thinking, at what point do other people DNF a book? Obviously if you hit a red flag, it’s time to kick it to the curb, but… What if the book is just a bit dull. Do you give it 10%? Three chapters?

So you know we had Things to Say!

Carrie: One time I gave up on page 8

Lara: That book must have been terrible

Gromit read that book, it appears


Catherine: A friend of mine had a formula that was 100 pages minus your age. The idea being that the older you get, the better you know yourself and what you like and the faster you can accurately judge whether a book is worth your time.

And I suppose if one wants to be morbid about it, the fewer years one has left, the less time one has to waste on books that one isn’t enjoying. I remember being on a flight from Darwin once and reading a truly dire book that was on the Hugos shortlist, and thinking ‘this plane made a really worrying noise when we took off. What if we crash and I die and this was the last thing I read?’

I rarely abandon a book, but the decision was very easy when I put it to myself in those terms….

Lara: I love that formula!

Uncle Fester agrees when it's time to stop


I abandon books quite quickly. There are so many good ones to read so why bother with the average ones? I make myself hit 10% before I bail.

Sneezy: Lol I’ve come to respect that having ADHD means there are things what will slide off my brain, just because it does. Maybe the book is interesting, maybe not. If I circle back, great, if I don’t, eh. I think when I get to the point where I know better how to navigate my brain, and therefore trust it more, I’ll be more decisive about yeeting books. For now I’m happy to let books live in limbo between TBR and Reading.

Jake has ideas about when to stop reading


Sarah: I can tell pretty quickly whether a book is for me and often it’s inside the first chapter or two. When I stop depends on my certainty. If I suspect that the book I’ve started isn’t working for me but I’m not sure, often I’ll finish the chapter, then stop and query myself if I have any interest in continuing to read. If not, I stop.

But if something is definitively not working, I’ll stop reading in the middle of a page and move on.

I looked up the last few books I DNFd and tried to recall why I did. In one case,  I was maybe 50-55% through and the source of conflict/tension I was most interested in dissolved without reason and I didn’t care about the rest of the story or what happened.

This has happened to me, too


Amanda: I give it usually 50-100 pages

Sarah: It’s almost like a mental see-saw: which has greater weight, the “Ok, what happens next?” side, or the “Eh, I don’t care” side?

Shana: I have no problem dropping a book after 2 pages, usually because of the writing style. Life is short, and my TBR list is long. But sometimes I get more than halfway through and something happens with the plot or characterization that makes me lose interest, or stop trusting the book.

Sarah: Yes that is exactly what I do, too. I stop trusting the story and off I go.

That’s a really good way of putting it.

What about you? Do you have a rule for when you DNF a book? Or do you stop when you’re ready to stop? When do you DNF? 

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