Chat Between Chapters: Books you just couldn’t finish

September 13, 2015 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 30


 Sometimes you just can’t finish a book, for one reason or another. Care to share those reasons with us, or maybe even tell us what book(s) you just could not finish?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:

I have a really hard time deciding to DNF a book. I feel like if I’ve already invested some time into it, I might as well see it through. I try to make my decision before about 25% through, but I have made it earlier at times. But it really depends on my mood and sometimes I just want to stop. An example of a book I DNF’d is The Casual Vacancy. I picked it up only because I loved the Harry Potter series so much. Well, after about 5 hours I just had to stop. It was so boring and I didn’t care about ANY of the characters and the book was so long that I just didn’t want to continue to waste my time. 

Some reasons why I might DNF a book:

  • Awful writing/editing.
  • Characters are so despicable that I just want them all to die and don’t want to keep reading about them
  • I’m bored, and maybe the book is very long that I just can’t deal with more boring.
  • A topic I can’t deal with/won’t read about and I didn’t know that was in the book or wouldn’t have picked it up in the first place.
  • I lost my place and don’t care to start over (seriously this has happened before when someone removed my bookmark).
  • I took a long break and don’t remember anything I read previously, and don’t want to start over.



I have recently reached the point in my life where I just don’t care to read books that I have no interest in. There are too many books out there to be chained down to something I don’t want to read. I used to put some serious effort into finishing reading everything that I start. Heck, I spent 6 months reading Cold Mountain, hating every minute of it. But not any more. If a book doesn’t grab me right away, I am likely to just give up and not feel bad about it. I even set up a DNF shelf on Goodreads. Maybe I’ll go back to the books eventually, but meh, probably not.

The main reason for me not finishing a book would be lack of interest. I sometimes feel like I have the attention span of a gnat, and if a book doesn’t grab my attention pretty early on, something new and shiny is likely to catch my attention pretty quickly. I find poor writing/editing to be distracting, but not enough to stop reading a good book. But my generosity only goes so far. If I have to struggle through poorly written sentences or paragraphs, I’ll take a hard pass on that book.   

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30 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: Books you just couldn’t finish”

    • Julie

      Ooh yes, if you have to review that’s just one more reason to force yourself to keep going. I feel like I can’t give a thorough review if I stopped reading it.

  1. Wendy

    I’ve tried to read Throne of Glass twice now, and I finally gave up on it. I have heard so many people rave about it, and people have told me the series improves, so I really wanted to make it through…but again, with so many other books waiting to be read, books I’m excited about, why waste the time?
    Wendy recently posted…Open Endings

  2. Create With Joy

    Thanks for joining us at The Book Nook #13 at Create With Joy! I DNF books for all of the reasons shared. Sometimes there are just too many books to read and too little time to read them in and you really have to make choices. Editors at publishing houses don’t spend their days wading through bad books – they pass on them if they’re not up to muster – so why should readers feel guilty about doing the same?

    There are few things in life as disappointing as a book that is not up to snuff!

    • Julie

      Ohh love your point – if publishers pass on books they are not interested in, why can’t readers? Love that. Thanks 🙂

    • Julie

      It is hard for me too, even though I’m very choosy now, I still get caught in the “what if it gets better” trap lol

  3. Sue at Book By Book

    Interesting discussion (as always!) I rarely don’t finish a book, mainly because I choose what I read carefully. There are so many amazing books out there that I choose books I am really excited about or that friends who have similar tastes have loved. So, usually, I choose stuff I will like and I finish them. The rare exceptions are usually for book group (something someone else chose!). The last one I recall not finishing was Personal History by Katherine Graham. I was reading it for a book group, was about two-thirds of the way finished and once we had the discussion, I set it aside. It was interesting but much, much too long! It really needed a good editor. I wondered whether whatever editor was assigned was afraid to edit much because it was written by such a big name in publishing. Anyway, I gave up on it.

    Great discussion!


    Book By Book
    Sue at Book By Book recently posted…Movie Monday: Coherence

  4. Verushka

    I’m so glad for this post — I’ve met so many people who just have to finish a book no matter what and I can’t do that, I just can’t waste my time on a book I hate. It’s usually for plot and pacing reasons I can’t finish a book. Or my pet hate, when a blurb has nothing to do with the actual book itself. Drives me nuts.
    Verushka recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Richard Kadrey’s been busy!

    • Julie

      I agree, so little time, why waste it on a book you hate? I think the hard part is when you’re so-so about it, not loving it, but not hating it exactly, that you can’t decide whether to go on or quit. Misleading blurbs are the worst!!

    • Lynn

      Not that it will help, Pamela, but I liked Raven Boys. And Julie didn’t. That’s a tricky one. I say give it a go. And then don’t feel bad if you don’t finish.

    • Julie

      But I liked her Wolves of Mercy Falls series and thought The Scorpio Races was decent. Hit or miss I guess.

  5. Ramona

    I hate not finishing books (or anything I start, basically…) It’s a character flaw, lol 🙂 But sometimes – very rarely – I do it as well. Usually, it’s the writing. The plot doesn’t make sense, or it’s too predictable, or something like that. It’s sad, but it can’t be helped 🙂
    Ramona recently posted…Zen Monday: Celebrate Autumn

  6. Stefani

    I was on the brink of DNFing The Casual vacancy this week myself. I agree with most of your reasons lady. So, I’m going to tell you about some books I’ve DNFed: Ready Player One, Opal, The Luxe, A Thousand Nights and even Looking for Alaska. I know, I know……but i just couldn’t get through them
    Stefani recently posted…BOOK GIVEAWAY!

    • Lynn

      I’ve only read Ready Player One from your list – and loved it. Though, I can totally see how if you have no interest in the topic, it would be super dull. I’ll keep an eye out for the others, though!

    • Julie

      I didn’t think Looking for Alaska was boring or anything, but people are so in love with it and I thought it was only OK.

  7. Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books

    I agree with Julie that I try to make the decision about DNF’ing before 25% of the way through it. Boredom is a big thing for me. If I would rather do the dishes than read my book, that is a pretty good indicator to just stop reading it.

  8. Terri M., the Director

    I have an abandoned shelf on GoodReads and that mirrors the shelves I keep in my reading apps on my iPad mini.

    Usually it is a lack of connection with the plot and/or characters that causes me to abandon a book. I dropped an ARC recently that was a historical fiction book about a young Cleopatra. I felt the character was too whiny for someone that was supposedly a princess.
    Terri M., the Director recently posted…Scenic Sundays 49: The Healing Power of Kitty Cuddles

    • Lynn

      Terri, that Cleopatra book sounds kind of interesting. But I hard pass on whiny. I can’t stand that in a character!

    • Julie

      Definitely lack of connection with characters and plot. Though sometimes if I do keep going I have a fun time writing a 2 star review.

  9. Karie {Girl Going Country}

    I’m with Lynn – I’ve reached the point where my to-read list is SO long that if a book doesn’t catch my interest, I’m ok giving up on it. Too many other good books to read. 🙂 The last book that I DNF’d was Bad Move by Linwood Barclay. It wasn’t terrible, but it just didn’t keep me interested enough to want to finish.
    Karie {Girl Going Country} recently posted…Soap Panel RESULTS

  10. Erik

    I just DNF’d two books: Go Set A Watchman because I didn’t like how it was written, I didn’t feel there was much of a plot and I got bored (read about 35-40%). The other was The Sixth Extinction- it was well written, but non-fiction isn’t my cup of tea (read about 25-30%)
    Erik recently posted…What Are You Reading? And Mentor Texts

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