DNFs and Reading Challenges

Posted February 23, 2017 / Discussions, Features / 26 Comments

I liked Shannon’s post a while ago about giving books a fair chance. Sometimes, despite all the warnings, we read books we know we probably won’t like. We want to read them because just MAYBE we will like them. We read and read and read, and (some of us) refuse to DNF. I’m usually one of these people. I always push myself to just finish the thing, especially when I’ve read nearly half of it. The biggest thing with DNFing books usually – for avid Goodreads users – has to do with the challenge. Do I include it in my numbers for the year because I read some of it, or does it not count because I didn’t finish the book? How do you decide?

Books I’ve DNFed in my Life

The list of books I’ve marked “DNF” is so small, I can include literally all of them here. There are probably a few more from my childhood but I don’t remember at this point. These all happened between college and now. All of these books except two of them were DNFed before the 50% mark. The other two were after.

The Lovely Bones Crimson Bound Away We Go It's All Your Fault Salt & Storm (Salt & Storm, #1) Bookishly Ever After (Ever After, #1)
Snowflakes on Silver Cove (White Cliff Bay #2) The Heir (The Selection, #4) Sweetbitter Losing It (Losing It, #1) The Moon and More

How many of these will I come back to someday? I would think less than half. Some of them were probably mood-related while others… there’s no coming back to. I usually have a decent idea of what I want from a book. If a bad book can hold my interest, I’ll keep reading. The minute I start losing focus and have literally zero desire to pick up the book again, that’s when I make the DNF decision.

Counting DNFs Toward Challenges

Long story short, yes I (sometimes) do. The whole point of this post was to share my personal method for how I include DNFs in my reading challenge and why. I feel like so many people struggle with this. If I DNF, I just wasted time I could have spent on another book that would actually count for my challenge…

If I read over 50% of a book, I deserve credit for that book.

In general, I count books over 50-100 pages for my reading challenge. I don’t like to include super small novellas (20 pages) unless I know I’m going to meet my challenge. I don’t like to add them in and feel like I’m cheating just to reach the challenge at the end… if that makes sense. In any case, any time I read 50% or more of a book, I feel like those books deserve to be counted. Why not? I read anywhere from 100-200+ pages in the book to get to that halfway mark, so I don’t think that reading should go unaccounted for.

Goodreads protocol: I add the book to my “read” shelf so it will count for the challenge. Then, I add it to the non-exclusive shelf “DNF over 50 percent” so I can keep track that it was a DNF.

If I read under 50% of a book, I don’t include it.

This is completely personal preference. I just don’t want to add the book into my reading totals if it’s a DNF. This can be difficult sometimes. My numbers for 2016 were off because I somehow set a “read” date for Crimson Bound AND put it on the “did not finish shelf,” so my Goodreads challenge showed one more book than the rest of my locations did. In any case, this system helps clear up those problems. I don’t include them in my challenge, so any book that I barely got into isn’t counted as finished.

Goodreads protocol: I add the book to my “did not finish” exclusive shelf, so it can’t be counted on my “read” shelf. It keeps those books separate from my Goodreads challenge totals.


What are you parameters for including DNFs in your totals?

Tell me in the comments and/or this little poll! I’m curious 🤔

Do you count DNFs for your Goodreads goal/challenge?

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26 responses to “DNFs and Reading Challenges

  1. I always think “maybe I’ll go back to this book” when I DNF it. And then I realize there is a reason I’m DNFing and I know I won’t. And like you I include some in a reading challenge. If I read over 150 pages it will get included.

  2. I DNF probably more than most people. I have no problem putting down a book I’m just not into. But, I’d never thought about counting it towards my Goodreads challenge. I have a separate shelf for DNFs so they don’t get included as full reads. Sometimes I DNF after only like 10 pages, so that definitely shouldn’t count!

  3. Interesting. I don’t usually worry too much about counting books for my Goodreads challenge, but I wouldn’t count books until I finished them. Just like I don’t review a book unless I finish it. I sometimes push through a bad book just so I can review it (if I’ve committed to writing a review or want to keep my NetGalley stats up).

  4. Looove this. So, as you know (ha!) I am a mess about DNFing. I am up to a whopping FOUR, which is so dumb, let’s be real. So one year I DID count a book that I got to 54% in- but like you said, I had read like, 200 pages! So it seemed like it SHOULD count, so I did- but then since I wanted to be “honest”, I moved it to my DNF shelf. I had long since made my goal, so it didn’t matter, but I liked having a record of books, and MOST of my DNFs are early on (Roseblood was super early!) and so I made it exclusive. But I like your idea! If I ever DNF a fifth book, I will have to see about changing up my system a bit 😉

    P.S.- Away We Go got worse as it went on, so good call there 😀

    • Hahah so good to know about Away We Go! lol.

      Yeah, I just think a certain amount of pages deserves credit! I count 150 page graphic novels toward it, so reading that many pages of a regular book should get me a little something.

  5. I’m so impressed that your list of DNF books is so short (and hahahaha I totally DNF’d Losing It too lol). I never count DNFs toward my reading goal, I just personally feel guilty if I don’t read the whole thing and still have it count toward my challenge. To be fair though, a lot of books that I DNF are more because I’m currently not in the mood to read them or sort of forget about them, so I’m hoping to pick them up again at some point. The hard DNFs go on my exclusive DNF shelf, while the ones I’m hoping to pick back up at some point go on my exclusive “on hold” shelf.

    • Yep, I have that kind of “come back to” shelf as well! I know what you mean. I don’t like to include them in the reading challenge if I think I’ll continue with them, but if I read over 150+ pages I want the credit hahah. I feel like most DNFs happen early.

  6. My thing is skimming. If I read 50% of a book and skim to the end, I’ll count it to my goal and NOT call it a DNF, because I do essentially know what the book is about, spot the key points, and know the ending. But if I up and quit, at any point in the novel, and don’t bother skimming, I don’t count it to my goal and call it a DNF. I’ve started DNFing more recently, but only with books that just plain don’t interest me once I got a hang of the voice or writing. There are some I don’t finish because I don’t have the time, and those will just go back to my TBR.

    It’s hard to DNF! But you know what? I could be spending my time reading something I’d love to read instead of something making me want to claw my eyes out. :/ DNFers I try not to review, too. Just state why it wasn’t for me, no rating, move on.

    • That’s a good point! I’ve never really skimmed to the end because usually I DNF if I care 0% of how things end. There are some books where maybe the writing isn’t for me but I’m curious about the plot, so skimming would come in handy!

      Yep, I agree though – I want to read books I enjoy 🙂

  7. I probably DNF a TON, mostly as a result of starting and stopping because of mood, life, ADDness, and whatnot. So I tend to not count ANY of my DNFs. Chances are, if I’m going to put a book back down, it’s going to happen WELL before the 50% mark though. I actually can’t really think of any where I’ve made it that far and THEN wanted to put it back. I’d say I’ve typically made up my mind about whether I’m going to stick with it or not around the 25-30% mark, sometimes sooner. SOMETIMES I’ll stretch it out to 40-50% if I REALLY want to give it a chance.

  8. I DNF a lot compared to you! I usually give up before 50% but if I do make through most of the book I will sometimes count it as a book read. So I’d probably count it for a challenge too. This is the first year I’ve done challenges in a long time.

  9. I can’t DNF books. There’s a part of me that knows I’m wasting my time on a book I’m not enjoying, but the bigger part of me feels like I have to stick it out to the end. What if the book redeems itself somehow?

    I’ve always envied people who can DNF something, and not give it a second thought. Anything I’ve started that I’m partway through I have full intentions of finishing…one day. I feel like I can feel the unfinished books glaring at me whenever I walk into the room!

  10. I also have a ridiculously small list of books I’ve DNFed! I believe the list is only at 2 for now (one of which is Extras (the 4th book in the Uglies series)) and I hope it doesn’t grow too much in the coming years. I’m one of those people who has to finish everything so leaving books in the middle and having the open plot lines in my head drives me crazy! I actually find it so impressive that you’re able to set down more books you know aren’t working for you (I wanted to put The Heir so badly but I really wanted to see who Eadlyn would end up with and I loved seeing America and Maxon again so I just couldn’t do it!).

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

  11. I rarely DNF a book because I usually have read so many reviews beforehand I have a good idea of whether or not I am going to like it. But I do DNF if I hate it too much! It’s a shame though, I actually liked The Lovely Bones…. in a weird kind of way.

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