DNF Reviews // Is it ok to review a book you didn’t finish?

Hello, hello! Happy Friday, friends! Welcome back to another episode of Coffee Convo w/ bookslayerReads. Sooo… last week we discussed Review Format… and for the rest of the month, I’d like to stick with Reviews as the topic of discussion.

Today, I’d like to talk about…

DNF

Those of you who may be new to the community, if you’re unsure what DNF means, it stands for “Did Not Finish”.

Now, I’m pretty sure that most of us have had to DNF a book sometime or another. And if not, I’m almost positive there will come a time in your life when you’ll want to.

Since I became a member of the blogosphere, I’ve noticed a lot of controversy over whether or not it’s ok to review a book you didn’t finish. Some people have their own set of “rules” when it comes to DNF’ing… like they won’t DNF a book until they’ve read at least 50%, for example. Everyone has their own opinions on the topic… so I’m going to give you mine, and then I’d love to hear yours!

DNFOpinion

Before I started blogging, I would never, ever DNF a book. I didn’t like not completing a book, and I would force myself to read till the end, regardless of how boring it was or how uninterested I was. But when you begin blogging, you start to realize that your time is precious. Whether it be reading time, blogging time, etc.

So now, I will DNF a book if I am not liking it. I will review a book I DNF’ed, but I will not rate it.


Why, Megan?


I write DNF reviews to let my followers know WHY I couldn’t finish the book. What was it about the book that was so terrible that I couldn’t continue? Was it the writing? The characters?

I like to give people a warning! Like, “Hey, I didn’t like this book for the following reasons… if this stuff bothers you, too… then you may not wanna read this book!”

Your followers will appreciate your honesty. I think followers not only want to see raving reviews, but ranting reviews as well… whether it’s a DNF or not.

I won’t rate a DNF’ed book simply because I don’t feel that I could give it the accurate rating it deserves if I didn’t finish reading it. I can’t rate it if I don’t know what happens in the end or how the story plays out. There’s a possibility it could have gotten better! I just didn’t take the chance. 😉

I love reading DNF reviews (so I figured I’d write them, too!) and I wish there were more bloggers out there who published them. I am always interested in why someone couldn’t finish reading a book.

So…

DNFaboutyou

I would love to hear from you guys! Let me know your opinions on the topic!


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Will you DNF a book, if you’re not liking it? Do you have any certain “rules” when it comes to DNF’ing?

If you DNF a book, do you review it?

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112 thoughts on “DNF Reviews // Is it ok to review a book you didn’t finish?

    1. I totally agree, Ashley! I pride myself in my honesty… I don’t believe in just saying a book was good just because you were given a free copy or an ARC or whatever. Honesty is a quality I look for in other bloggers/reviewers, as well.

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  1. I don’t usually not finish books. I will push through even if I just skim read. Simply because I like having the whole picture when I review a book. But that’s just my personal preference when reviewing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with DNF reviews as long as the reader is informed that the review is not of the complete book.

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  2. I used to never DNF a book either but then my TBR pile just kept getting bigger and bigger & decided that it’s less stressful and anxiety ridden to just mark a book DNF than trying to force myself to finish a book I’m just not into. That way I could move on and read a book that I could enjoy.

    As far as reviewing a DNF – if I have an opinion on the book that’s worth writing a paragraph or two about, then I will. I’ve written 6-7 paragraphs on a DNF that I only read 50-ish pages of! lol.

    It’s definjtely personal opinion and I don’t see why writing a review for a DNF is a bad thing. Sure, you didn’t finish it but your opinion on what you did read is still valid.

    Maybe put a disclaimer in the review (I do) and say I marked DNF at 15%/pg. 60 or something, y’know?

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    1. Brittany, I seriously agree with EVERYTHING you said, and couldn’t have said it better myself!!! Why should we read books that we’re not enjoying when we have tons and tons of other books that we COULD be enjoying? That’s right, we shouldn’t!! And I’ve finally realized that! And I’m so glad that you pointed out that you wrote 6-7 paragraphs on a book you DNF’ed at 50-ish pages! That’s such a great point, and proves even more that DNF reviews should be written! (At least, I think so anyway!) You could have so many things to say about a book you DNF… and I’m a reader that would love to hear it! 😂

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  3. What a coincidence! I just DNFed a book today! I get what you mean about DNFing before blogging and after; I was the same with reading a book to the finish. Now, I have little time left for reading itself, so I feel that if I really don’t like a book, then I shouldn’t feel obligated to read it to the end.

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  4. I am not an apt reviewer but I used to finish all books up until last year. But then a few book series happened to me and I couldn’t go on. After I left reading midways through the second book, I also read a few very satisfying DNF reviews about that one series with all those flaws pointed out. I consider enjoying such reviews as a sort of revenge from those books for having wasted my time.
    I have never written such a review before but they should exist because of all the reasons you already mentioned.

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  5. For me, DNF-ing a book is something that really breaks my heart so I rarely do it. I like thinking that somewhere perhaps in the book it will get better if I’m not really liking it that much. I’ve read multiple books that were so boring at first but picks up quite nicely towards the end. However, when I do DNF books, I think it’s okay to review it since you’re sharing your thoughts on it to your readers. It’s just pure critique and honesty. 😊

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    1. I used to think that to myself, too! Like before I started DNF’ing books… and a book wasn’t good at all, I’d tell myself it was going to get better, just keep reading! And I still do that sometimes. But now I’m more likely to mark it as DNF versus reading something I’m not enjoying.And I completely agree!! DNF reviews are pure critique and honesty! It’s also a way to vent our feelings and emotions!

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    1. That’s awesome, Kim! I’ve only had to DNF a few times myself, and I did write a review on one (How to Hang a Witch). I enjoy reading DNF reviews just as much as I enjoy reading regular reviews! I like hearing the reasons behind the DNF because it’s always interesting or surprising!!

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  6. I actually do rate and review even when I haven’t finished. Much like your reasoning I figure I should write the review to explain why I just couldn’t make it through the book in case whatever bothered me to that point might bother other readers. In my opinion though that makes the book a 1 star just because that reflects my own feelings on it since it’s extremely rare for me to not make it to the end.

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  7. I don’t DNF books. I’ll put it down and read another book. Come back and read about 40 pages, put it back down and read something else. I’ll keep doing that until I finish the book.
    I made the decision not to DNF after it took me almost a month to finish. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews. I can’t think of anything I really liked about it. A GR friend kept pressuring me to give book 2 a chance. I didn’t enjoy most of it until the last 1/3. But I was more interested when Curran appeared. The end of book 2, I quickly bought book 3 and Kate Daniels is one of my favorite series.

    So now, I don’t give up on a series until I’ve read at least 2 books in it. It all because Kate and Curran

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      1. Kate Daniels is a beloved series, so I would say read up to book 3. I read Charley Davidson books 1-4 before I stopped. I read Fever series and after Shadowfever I couldn’t take it anymore. So I’ve tried some popular series and still didn’t like them. But I’ll can say I tried to book 3

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  8. I haven’t had many I have had to DNF, mainly bc I stay in my favored genre. But when it does happen, I don’t write a review. I’ll write a couple sentences on why it was a DNF. And I usually don’t post them, but then again I only DNF’d one book since starting my blog, and I felt that at 11%, it wasn’t enough for me to share it on here. But that’s me. I think it’s largely circumstantial for me: the book I DNF’d, Slumber, was to be a RaR, but not for NG or Edelweiss or anything like that. So I think if it was for a site like that, and I read maybe a quarter of the book, then I would write a review instead of a blurb explaining. I guess it just hasn’t happened enough for me to figure it out yet.
    This is all stream of consciousness writing now and I have no idea what I said. I have no idea what I would do, tbh. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But for now, there’s two books I purposely stopped reading: 1Q84 by Murakami, and Slumber by Weil. So I guess that’s why it’s s tricky area for me! 😂🤣😂😜

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie! I don’t DNF a lot of books either, but I do know that I will if I have to! I only have one DNF review on my blog right now, and that was for How to Hang a Witch. And I totally understand what you’re saying about if it was a NetGalley book or something…

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  9. I’m not sure I’ve ever made a decision to dnf. What usually happens is that I just start avoiding it and go off and read other books with the intention of going back to it later. Often I actually do. This does mean that I never review until I finish, if I finish.

    I don’t have any problem with others reviewing dnf books but I’m not sure I agree with rating unless it was particularly offensive. It seems unfair to the author to 1 star a book you’ve only read a small proportion of.

    I actually saw a review on Amazon yesterday where someone 1 starred a book because “Bought as a gift for someone so haven’t read it”. Why on earth did they then rate it???

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    1. I completely agree about the rating part! Definitely a bit unfair to the author to rate if you only read a small portion of the book. And what’s up with the person that did that on Amazon? I have no clue why they would do that. I mean, what would have been the point? I don’t agree with that person rating it, but if they were gonna say that and rate it anyway, then why not 5 star it? Why the 1 star? Makes no sense!! 😕

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  10. Oh yes, I have no problem DNFing books. I stopped forcing myself to read when I graduated. I haven’t DNFed a book for quite some time, so I have yet to review one. But I think if it gave you some feeling then you can review it as long as you say you didn’t finish it. Tell people why you put it down, that’s a valid opinion.

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  11. I don’t write reviews for DNFs. I don’t think it’s fair because I don’t know how the plot/story developed. Some of the best classic literature I’ve ever read would have been a DNF if not for the push to finish the book since it was a ‘classic’. If the editing is bad, I’ll note that in Goodreads but that’s as far as I’ll go. I’m here to help writers not hurt them.

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  12. Lovely post, Megan! I don’t DNF a lot of books, but when I do it’s when I realize I just can’t go on with it anymore because of the story, the characters, the writing, some sensitive topics I just can’t read about or when it feels just plain wrong. I will review it, saying why I couldn’t go on and what bothered me, but I won’t rate it because just like you I feel like I can’t be fair rating it while I haven’t read it entirely 🙂

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  13. I agree with you! It’s completely fine to say that you DNFed a book and talk about your reasons for doing so. It is unfair to rate the book if you didn’t read it, though, so it’s best to leave it unrated.

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  14. Since i have been blogging July of last year there was only one book I DNF. I wasn’t sure about it at 32% and when I got to 52% I had to stop. I couldnt do it anymore. An author sent it to me and I let that author know. I didn’t review it or let anyone know the title/author. Guess what happened? The author unfriended me on FB! OMG really? Just because I couldn’t finish your book? (Now being more experienced with blogging I would talk more with the author about it and possibly review it on my site)

    Since then the website for the book series is gone and I can’t find those books on Amazon. I guess this author got more feedback like mine. The author is still on Goodreads though….

    I almost recently DNF another at 82%- I kept on because I wanted to know what was going to happen. It actually picked up at 85%. Still the book was not really for me. I reviewed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What! That’s crazy! The author shouldn’t have treated you like that simply because you weren’t into their book or couldn’t finish it, etc. I do agree with you about maybe discussing with the author a review on it though, or whatever else. Thanks for sharing!!

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      1. I thought it was crazy too! At least I learned from it and know to better explain why I couldn’t finish it!

        Needless to say if that author ever contacts me again, I won’t be working with her…

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  15. I rarely DNF a book but I don’t have a problem with it. There are far too many books I want to get to and too little time. If it’s something that really doesn’t suit me I don’t see the point in continuing. But if it’s a short book I will usually try to skim through it so I generally get the story but details and reading every word is torture! I agree – I love DNF reviews! But it has to include specifics as to why this book didn’t work out for the person

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  16. Fantastic post and subject! 🙂 I do not rate DNFed books either, I can’t really express a rating if I did not push until the end! I usually give a book 100 pages to convince me, and if it fails, bye bye! I don’t call them review per se, but I will post about a book I DNfed to let my readers know why it did not work for me, I feel like it gives a better balance about my ratings and how I work with books if I can justify the reasons why a story was given up on.

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  17. Thats a tough one. I haven’t reviewed a book I did not finished yet but the day will come soon. I agree about the not rating it because something I loath someone else can adore. I love thought provoking posts like this that make me a better blogger. Thank you for being awesome.

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  18. I agree with everything you said. I will DNF a review if I’m not into it and I will do a review of it but I want rate it. What if it’s a book you were sent to review. Do you still DNF it if your not into it or do you force yourself to finish it?

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    1. That’s a tough question, Misty. If it’s NetGalley, I’ll post a review on their site explaining why I couldn’t finish. If it’s a book that’s been sent to me by the author, I’ll discuss it with the author. But I usually do try to finish those types of books, if I can.

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      1. Yeah I am the same way I always make myself finish it since it was sent to me. But there has been one time not to long ago that I almost couldn’t finish one because I was not liking it at all but I finally got through it.

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  19. Great post! I think it’s okay to review books from our DNF lists – like you said, readers love honesty and it’s good to warn them about some content in a book if they don’t like reading it. I would personally never discourage a reader from a book if I wrote a DNF review because everyone has their own opinion (unless the book was absolutely terrible!).

    Thanks for writing this – I had never thought about reviewing DNF books before, but now I think I might start doing this as well 🙂

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  20. I will DNF a book if I’m finding it hard to read or just can’t get into the story because life’s too short to read a boring book! I review DNF’ed books for the same reason that you do, and I rate the book on my blog based on the part that I read. I do not, however, rate the book on Goodreads or Amazon because I don’t want my low rating to impact the average ratings since I can’t judge it as a whole story.

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  21. Great question Megan! I try to read at least 10% but if passed this mark I still don’t like it at all I don’t bother with it. Reading should be fun, not a chore (enough chore into everyday life). Will I rate it? No because I would not feel honest doing so (maybe there would have been incredible things later). Will I tell I DNF? Absolutely. Will I explain why? That too. recently I got an ARC by a new author in exchange for an honest review. She’s reached for me directly. I tried to like it but it was too much like beta reading for me (I beta read from time to time). It should not have been a beta reading experience but a reading experience. I never rated the book and did not comment on it. But, I’ve send her a private message explaining my issues and what should be maybe changed.

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  22. I think DNF reviews are completely fair and honestly don’t understand the hate. As long as you’re clearly indicating that it’s a DNF review and not a review of the full book, and as long as you read a decent chuck (I wouldn’t review like 10 pages), then it’s reasonably. As you said, it’s just an explanation of “I tried to read this, but it was so bad/boring/whatever that I couldn’t.” That is, in fact, a review.

    And, honestly, I don’t care if I read only the first half of the book, and that’s yawn-worthy, but the end of the book is amazing and I miss out because I DNFed. That just means the book has some redeeming qualities. But it’s still not a *great* book. A great book is great all the way through, not just in the last 50 pages. There are too many books in the world to stick with one that that isn’t fun for you but “might” be fun eventually. I’d rather move on and try something else.

    Finally, I think when authors and industry people get grumpy about readers DNFing, they’re conveniently overlooking the way much of the industry functions. Typically, an agent will ask you for a few pages of your manuscript and, yes, based JUST on those 10 pages (or whatever they requested) decide whether they want to read more of your book. If they can decide the first 10 pages are “meh” so they aren’t interested in the rest, so can I.

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  23. I agree with you, when I DNF a book I always write my opinion about it anyway, to be able to explain why I haven’t been able to finish it, but I don’t give it a rating because I think it’s unfair since I haven’t read the whole book ☺

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  24. Great topic Megan, I’ve never DNF’d a book since I started blogging, though I think there have been one or two that I was tempted to not finish because I was really not a fan of them, but I persisted anyways.
    I think with DNF books it’s nice to see the reviewers have tried to read it, and it’s not a case of having got halfway through the first chapter, giving up and then writing a review for it (not that I’ve seen anyone do that, I don’t think anyone would to be honest).
    It’s better not to force yourself to finish a book you don’t enjoy, and a lot of the time it’s nice (not sure if that’s the right word) to have some sort of warning about a book that maybe wasn’t good or possibly problematic as well.
    There have been a couple of books I’ve removed from my TBR list simply because of the negative reviews I’ve seen.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! And I agree… Knowing the reader attempted to read the book is always a good thing. Which is why I prefer DNF reviews to state how far along in the book they actually got. Thanks for sharing! (Oh and I’ve had to remove some books from my TBR too because of this!)

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      1. That’s all right, yeah I’m less likely to read a review where I see a reviewer only read a few chapters. It makes me think they didn’t give it a proper chance (though I’m sure they did, you know pretty quickly whether a book is right for you or not). 😀

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  25. First of all, great topic of discussion! 🙂 It’s an interesting topic, one people have many different opinions on.

    I think I’ve only reviewed one DNF on my blog before, but I reviewed it in a similar manner to you. I gave solid reasons for my decision to give up on it, highlighting the various issues I personally had with the book so prospective readers could be forewarned of any themes that they might find upsetting.

    I thinking reviewing DNF books is fine as long as the reviewer can justify their reasons and criticism, just like they would with a regular review.

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  26. This is coincidental timing since I DNFed a book for the first time in years last month. I use to never DNF books but, like you said, when you’re a blogger time is precious and I’ve realized that I’d rather not spend my time reading a book I’m REALLY not liking. For me, I don’t give myself a set amount I have to read before marking it as a DNF but I do have a rule to where it depends on how much I’ve read whether I review it or not. If I’ve only gotten around 10%-20% in and then decide I don’t want to continue then I don’t feel like I’m able to review off of so little but if I get a little over half way in before I put it down then I’ll write a short review on why I DNFed it. Which with my last DNF I only made in 10% before I couldn’t continue so I didn’t review it. Anyway! Great discussion as always, Megan! 😊

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  27. Oh this is great! I had this discussion a bit back and was genuinely surprised by the responses. And I thoroughly agree with yours 🙂 I do not write DNF reviews (per policies) if it is a requested review. I send feedback via email. But I still believe they are super beneficial for the very reasons you mentioned. Insight is insight. If you feel you have read enough to provide some solid thoughts and what did and did not work, it can certainly be helpful to share that. I tip my hat to you for not rating though. I normally never argue any points, but I do not believe in rating a DNF(esp on Amazon or GR) because it seems unfair to impact a titles standing or rank if you truly did not experience it in it’s entirety. Again, fab post 🙂

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  28. Smart to review but not rate! I also used to have a huge problem with not finishing books–it was out of the question for me. Now I DNF whenever I just know it’s not going to get better and don’t have the time to try and push through.
    I think it’s unfair to rate books you haven’t finished (sometimes the second half of a book has bumped my initial rating up a whole star) but super important that people understand why you DNF’d it. Reading about what didn’t work for someone else might be exactly what you look forward to in books. On the other hand, if a reviewer I follow just gives a terrible rating with no explanation, I’ll just avoid it and could potentially be missing out.
    Just my thoughts, haha. Great post! 😊

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  29. Me too! I never DNF a book before joining this community no matter how boring the book is already running. My reason is I don’t want to not finish anything I started. But yeah, when I joined this community I realized that it is okay to DNF books sometimes if you really don’t feel like it. I’m not one who give up to books easily. In my many years of reading, I think I just DNFed more or less 5 books.

    And I think this is a great idea to still write reviews on the books you DNFed. It would definitely give people the heads up on what to expect on the book! Great post Megan! 😀

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  30. Great discussion! I always used to finish my books – even if it meant torturing myself with a few pages in between other engaging books. Lately, I have had a few that I have not finished (Furiously Happy being one that I found insulting to people with mental health challenges and made me so angry that I could not finish it as a health professional. I was certainly glad i borrowed a copy and did not support this book!!) but i had not been blogging about the DNF. I think that i might start as you have give some great thoughts to ponder!

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  31. I definitely agree with the points you made. 🙂 I think your thoughts on DNF books is very fair. Time is precious and there are so many wonderful books out there to be read. Best not to torture yourself over one that is just boring you to tears or is poorly written beyond any possible hope of redemption.
    Plus, I like the system of reviewing them but not actually rating them. As a reader I value DNF reviews just as much because I genuinely want to know what someone thought of the book as they were reading it and that they aren’t afraid to step away when the book just isn’t worth their time any more. Sure, sometimes a story can really surprise us with a powerful ending we didn’t see coming, but overall I like to enjoy the book throughout the entire journey.

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  32. Another great post! I personally try to give every book to at least the 20-30% mark before I will even consider DNFing it. Personally I think 20-30% is a fair shot. Like you, I never rate a DNF, as I do not think it is fair unless you read the book all the way through. I will then take to Goodreads and clearly state at the top “DNF @30%” or whatever percentage, and go on to explain why. We really are review twins 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, Amanda!! Yes, we are review twins! 😂 That’s probably why I fell in love with your blog the very first time I set eyes on it 😊 I also like how you said you put on your DNF’s the percentage you read, because I feel like that’s definitely important!!

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  33. Great post, Megan! Even though I’ve yet to DNF a book (I’m way too stubborn 😂😂) I think it’s fine to write reviews for them. In fact, I really love reading DNF reviews because I’m always super curious about what made someone to decide to stop reading. I think they’re super helpful and important for letting people know what we could possibly be in store for if we decide to read them ourselves. Rating them is a bit more of a grey area though. If people want to, that’s fine. I don’t think I could though because you haven’t really scoped out the entire book and a lot of times people DNF for personal reasons which has nothing to do with how the books written.

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  34. I have books that I cannot finish and basically, if I read at least 50 or so pages I will still review on my blog. Of course, I mention that I DNF, but if I can’t get through more than a chapter or 2, I just leave it alone. I never rate a book on Amazon or Goodreads if I didn’t finish because you never know, it may have gotten better as it went on!

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  35. I DNF. I try to group them together and let someone know why I didn’t read it in a few sentences., but sometimes I have more to say and do an entire post on one DNF book.

    Great topic! 🙂

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  36. I haven’t DNF-ed many books since I joined the book community, and I had never DNF-ed one before that! The books I used to read were so limited that I usually always enjoyed them enough to read until the end. But then I became a bit picky 😛 I think I’ve only DNF-ed 2 or 3 books, tho. I don’t write reviews for them, but I try to tell people why I didn’t finish them. However, I think full reviews about it are a very good idea! Great post 🙂

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  37. This is a great post and discussion! I was looking for something just like this a month or so ago, as I was trying to decide what to do about a book I DNFed.

    I always use to hate DNFing a book and avoided it at all costs. But like you, especially since I’ve started blogging my opinion has changed. If I’ve given something a good chance and I’m just really not into it, I don’t want to waste my time forcing myself to finish it. So I don’t feel so guilty anymore moving on to something I really love. There are times I’m not super into a book or just not feeling it at the time, so I read something else and try to come back to it. But if it sits there too long eventually I’ll give it a DNF. I agree about reviewing but not rating.

    I’m thinking what I would like to do in my blog is save up a few DNFs and make a DNF post, with a little explanation of why I didn’t finish each book and how far I read before giving up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Melanie! I totally agree with you. No sense in wasting time on something that you’ve given a fair chance to and still aren’t interested in. And I really think that’s a fantastic idea! Saving up a few DNF’s and making a post out of it. That’d definitely be something I’d wanna read!

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  38. I do think it’s important to let people know why you DNF’d a book and of course giving your reasons is basically a review. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I love reading DNFs and negative reviews too – it’s a guilty pleasure. Not rating them is a good compromise. I think I’ll copy you on that aspect, should I come across any more DNFs this year (hopefully I won’t!)

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  39. Well, I think the way you go about it is the way people should try and go at it too! Not rating, but still explaining your DNF is very informative for so many people! Personally… I still have the same “way to live” or should I say “way to read” as your pre-blogger self. I don’t think I’ll ever end up DNFing a book. If I start something, I always will want to finish it. Even if it stinks. That way I can RATE it and EXPLAIN myself. At least it’ll boost my credibility even more for all the reasons I might have for disliking a book, you know? Nice little discussion post Megan! 😀

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  40. Gosh – this was such a good post! I don’t rate DNF books for the same reasons as you – I didn’t finish the book and my rating can’t be accurate. I like that you review them but then again, I don’t because I don’t even review HALF the books I DO READ so…that’s a problem. Wonderful discussion – though I try not to DNF books.

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