What the DNF?


Oh no! The dreaded DNF. I feel like I’ve failed, especially considering the book and its authors. It’s been a while since this has happened. And it’s the first time this has occurred since I began reviewing books on this blog. I am ashamed to name the title, so I will give you a clue and leave it up to you to guess it.

This is a co-authored book written by two authors well known for their cyberpunk stories. Easy, right?.. What? You want another clue? Okay, it’s alleged that this book helped spread awareness of the term “steampunk.” That’s as far as I will go without naming and shaming. I was looking forward to reading this book as it has a reputation for being an important work in the genre of speculative fiction. It also has an enticing blurb which made me want to read it.

So, what went wrong?



I gave it 80 pages before I gave up. It just didn’t draw me in. I couldn’t get interested in the characters who felt rather flat. But worse than that, I was bored. At one point, I was skim-reading a long speech by one of the characters just to get to the end of it. And then I felt guilty for doing so. Other books became too tempting to ignore. I told myself I would come back to this book in a week or so. But I tried it and it left me cold. Thus, the dreaded DNF.

I would love to hear from anyone who has finished this book. Please tell me if it’s worth returning to. I would also love to hear about your own DNF stories. How far will you read before giving up? Is my 80 pages too few? Too soon? I guess it can depend on the length of the book in question, and this is a lengthy one.

Do you feel guilty when you make the decision to read no more? Do you carry on regardless, determined to complete it no matter what? That’s something I thought I did. I keep telling myself that I WILL return to this book in the future. I want to give it another try. Maybe the timing was off. It wasn’t you, it was me! I just wasn’t ready for you. I’m so sorry…


As a side note, when I was doing a bit of research into DNF, a list of common DNF books came up via Goodreads. I gather this list was compiled from readers’ DNF shelves. Here are the Top 5 “Most Abandoned Books” (DNF) from Goodreads in no particular order:


E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey;
J.K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy;
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love;
Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo;
Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.


And here is their list of the Top 5 “Abandoned Classics:”


Catch 22 by Joseph Heller;
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien;
Uylsses by James Joyce;
Moby Dick by Herman Melville;
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Do you have a Top 3 DNF list?


8 thoughts on “What the DNF?

  1. Eh, if you finish it or not, what’s the difference? Maybe it’s just not the kind of book to rev your engine. Sounds like a sterling example of a boring book, though.

    Seriously, I haven’t tried this book yet, but I will approach with caution.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes I slog through a book I should like even though it doesn’t click with me, and I hate it more because I forced myself to continue. Sometimes I hate it and stop and come back some time later, and find I actually kinda liked it after all. (I tried reading Catch-22 during a stressful part of my life and abandoned it, only to come back years later and love it.) Moods and interests can change an opinion on a book, and while I also feel kinda guilty about DNF’ing, like it’s an admission of failure, I’ve found it’s way better to DNF than continue reading something you don’t enjoy at all (really wish I’d stopped reading Girl/Dragon Tattoo…).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Words of wisdom as usual from the admiral. Moods, interests and timing can make a big difference. I’ve never managed to finish Naked Lunch. Don’t think I ever will. Whaddayagonnado? Start something new:)


  4. LOL! Now I’m tempted to read the book to see if I can go beyond 80 pages.

    In all seriousness, once I start a book, I generally feel compelled to see it through to the bitter end, even if I’m not enjoying it. Sometimes it will be after I have set the book aside for a few weeks, months, or even years; I just force myself to finish it. I think part of the reason is my fear that the book would become great right at the point where I decide to give up; no matter how unlikely that might be.

    I will only DNF if the subject matter of a book is too disturbing for me to enjoy. You can count on the fingers of one hand how many times that has happened; the last time being in the mid-nineties. It was a book called The Fan Club about four losers who are so obsessed with a Hollywood celebrity they decide to abduct her in the belief that she’d be so appreciative of their devotion she’d reward them with sexual favours. When it doesn’t work out that way they basically take it in turns to rape her over and over again. Needless to say I couldn’t bring myself to finish the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s very rare for me, too. I am planning to give it another try when the timing feels right. These days, I am reading for enjoyment. I’m not reading for a course of study or for an exam – thank goodness – so I am able to be a lot more selective in what I read. And if I do give up on a book, it won’t affect my grades;) It doesn’t stop me from feeling like I’ve failed, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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