On Finishing Books You Don’t Like

Confession: My name is Jamie and I have a really big problem with not putting down books even when I’m really just not into them. Even if I’m bored out of my mind. Even when I’d rather clean my whole house than read a book.


Why would I do this when I have so many books to read and limited time to read and do all the things I want to do in life?



This past weekend, while at the home of the lovely Anna from Anna Reads, we had a conversation about not finishing books we start. I learned that Anna isn’t afraid to DNF books she isn’t in to and she learned that I am one of those people who just cannot make myself put down a book once I start reading it…no matter how not into I am or how long it’s taking me to finish. It’s honestly rare for me to put something down. We had a nice conversation about it and she lovingly reminded me that life is too short to read books I don’t like. I made a promise of sorts that I’d try harder to put books down when I’m not into them.

I don’t know WHY I feel so compelled to keep reading books I don’t even like but I’ve come up with a few reasons why I think  I do this:

1) I feel as though it’s going to redeem itself at some point and I don’t want to miss out on that.I just think that maybe at some point it will just COME TOGETHER and click for me.

2) Friends loved it and I feel like I need to keep trying  so that maybe I’ll see the awesome they see.

3) I hate starting something and not finishing it.

4) I’ve stuck with books that took a while to get into and they’ve turned out to be some of my favorite books.

5) I’m always afraid that it might be a mood thing. What if I put it down thinking I don’t like it but it’s really NOT the book, it’s just my mood or i’m distracted. I touched on this a little bit in a post entitled “It’s Not You, It’s Me.

6.  I feel guilty because a publisher sent it to me so I feel I must at least finish it…even if that means a not so good review.


I can’t seem to just pry my little fingers away from the book I’m reading and just move on. I think it would make me a more efficient blogger if I were to cut my losses on books that are just not for me.

Are you able to put books down easily or is it a struggle for you like it is for me? If you are able to put a book down, how do you determine it’s time? A certain number of pages? Do you just KNOW you aren’t going to like it? Do you find that you will pick books up again that you have put down?

So, here I am, lovely readers…I’m going to make a vow to TRY and curb my compulsion to keep reading books even if I am not enjoying them.  I think it will go very nicely with some general life changes I’m making to make my life simpler and do things that I truly want to do.

I THINK I’ve come up with a way that will slowly help me learn to mark books as DNF and move on. I’ll be posting about it tomorrow and I’ll need your help. So make sure to stop back tomorrow and help me!! I’m excited to kick this habit!


YAY ME. Making resolutions and things to better my quality of life 😛

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I am pretty much like you, it takes me a long long long time to decide whether or not I will put down a book and that is almost NEVER and even when I do, I still bookmark the part I stopped at, just in case I want to go back and read it. Also, I can’t stand the idea of not finishing a book and adding it to my bookshelves..

  2. I am horrible about not putting down books when I full out hate them. Like the book I reviewed today. I read 300 pages and hated almost everything about it.

    Especially when it’s a review book, all the guilt of asking for a book and then you utterly hating it. But usually if I’ll go 150 pgs at the minimum to decide if I simply cannot finish it.

  3. GOSH IM SO WISE. Life IS too short to waste time on books you don’t like! DNF move on! Hahah <3

  4. It is SUCH a struggle for me to put down a book. Sometimes I feel like I can’t fairly review a book if I didn’t read the whole thing but other bloggers have taught me that as long as I do a full disclosure, that it’s okay. Still, I feel I owe it to the author and publisher to at least finish the whole. Em, however, wholeheartedly is the opposite. She puts a book down if it doesn’t grab her in the first 50 pages. lol Awesome post, Jamie. xo

  5. Life IS too short to waste time on books you don’t like! DNF move on! Hahah <3

  6. I am exactly the same way. I don’t even know what it is exactly!

    I definitely, like you, am afraid it’ll get better and I’ll miss out. I also feel bad making the judgment “I didn’t like it” when I haven’t read the whole thing. Largely, I just like that feeling of accomplishment for having finished it. I like to add it to my list of “books read” and my Goodreads, but I feel guilty adding it to either of those if I don’t finish . . .

    I really need to kick the habit. There are too many great books out there (and more being written everyday) to waste time on books I don’t like!

  7. I usually give myself 50 pages. Either the author has impressed me by then, or I move on. My thought is that there are so many good books out there, so why waste my time reading a book that I’m not enjoying? Sometimes I do plan to return and give the book a second shot at some point (although I have given that a try on several books that were still just as bad the second time through). I think the thing that makes it easier for me is to remember that not every book speaks to everyone. A book might be my favourite, but someone else just can’t get into it. It’s one of the things that makes reading, and sharing recommendations, so much fun. Good luck kicking your habit!

  8. I’m def one to always finish a book whether I like it or not. I just have to know how it ends, even if I hate it. It’s an OCD I have. Idk if I want to break the habit or just keep doing what I’m doing. It’s not like I have a mountain of books to read like you Jamie, lol. I used to not be able to read more than one book at a time too, but I’m slowly breaking that habit. ^_^

  9. P.S. The look that baby gif’s face? Creeeeeeeeeeeepy!!!!!

  10. Oh my gosh, this book came literally the PERFECT time because I was debating whether or not to DNF’d a book I am currently reading. I have a terrible habit of not really finishing books and I usually read a book in one sitting because I know I will probably not pick it back up. That’s why I read YA so quickly! But YES to all your reasons!! Especially the it will redeem itself and it’s nice to finish things. I had to tell myself though, “Look, you’re half-way through the book and you’re STILL not enjoying it. Give up.” I try to employ the 100 pages rule but that doesn’t always work. For now, I’m going to put this book down and maybe pick it back later if I’m feeling benevolent. Love love this post!

  11. I usually end up finished books is stop reading when I have nothing else to read. I have been known to reread other books in order to not finish a boring one…

  12. I pretty much never put books down even if I don’t like them. I just can’t help but think “what if it gets better?”

  13. I’m like you! It takes a lot for me not to finish something. The few times I don’t, I’ll flip to the end (which I never do), and/or flip to the middle if I’m not already there, and if nothing motivates me to keep going, I’ll finally–reluctantly!–put it down.

  14. Ha! I just posted on this here http://iamalivephotos.blogspot.de/2012/04/torturing-myself-because-i-refuse-to.html

    I am also one who can’t put books down. Can’t wait to see your proposed solution tomorrow.

  15. It can be hard to ‘abandon’a book, especially if you think it’s a mood thing. There are so many books that I have rented from the library, started, had to return because others wanted to read them, rented them again, STILL didn’t get into them….and it goes on. Tell yourself that you’ll give it another chance some other time. This is part of the reason why i read like….5 books at a time. Part of it is placement, one book is in my car while the other is by my bed, etc, but the other part is that sometimes I AM in the mood for something different and so try something else until I’m ready to get back to that book. If I’m not ready to get back to it, oh well, something better will always be there waiting! Good luck! YOU CAN DO IT!

  16. I used to be the same way, I had to finish every book I started, even if it was boring, even if I thought it was terrible. But in the last few years I realised I just wanted to read good books and stop wasting my time with crapola books! So I’m sure you can get to that stage too!

  17. I am TOTALLY a DNFer. If I’m not into the book by 1/4 to 1/3 of the way in, I won’t continue. Some I will struggle to continue because others LOVED it, but I am pretty quick to add to the DNF pile. I feel like there are just too many great books out there and if I’m not itching to pick my book up again, why read it?

  18. My problem is this compulsive need to read ALL THE BOOKS in a series even if I hate the series. Why do I do this?!? It kills me to read one or two books and then fall out of love. I still feel like I NEED to finish all of them.

  19. I used to have problems with setting down book unfinished if I’m not enjoying it. I always felt like I HAD to finish, like it was something I owed to the author or something because he/she probably put a lot of effort into the book and I didn’t think it was fair to write it off before I even finished it and was able to judge it as whole.

    However, once I started college and my reading time became more limited, I stopped forcing myself to finish books I didn’t like (I had to do enough of that for my assigned reading). Usually, I’ll attribute my not liking a book to a mood thing (like you mentioned) and often I’ll end up coming back to it a few weeks, or even a few months, later and end up liking it. But sometimes the book is just really boring to me and I’m not clicking with it at all, and those books I easily set down for good without a second thought.

  20. Hi
    I also have a hard time stopping books I don’t like. Usually because I know that one of my favorite series has a first book I really dislike. I always worry that if I stop a book I dislike I might miss out on what later and amazing series or later incredible books by that author.
    Great post!
    Nice to meet you!

  21. Oh my god! Im exactly like you! I’ve always got the niggling doubt that it might suddenly become amazing and everything will click into place and I don’t want to miss out. But this rarely happens lol! I’m also stubborn. I feel annoyed if I can’t finish a book, I don’t want to let it beat me. So I force myself to finish it and find comfort in the fact I can then write a cathartic review lol. But I really don’t know why I do it to myself. Honestly, lately I’ve read so many rubbish books (for a month now everything I’ve picked up has been poor) that I’ve lost the will to read!

    Your post is timely. Right now I’m battling through a book I actually hate, I think its so poorly written. I keep saying I’ll stop at the next chapter but then I keep reading a few pages more in case it picks up!

  22. I hadn’t been on your new WordPress site yet and it is GORGEOUS. I love the theme and colors. Anyway, I also have a really hard time putting down books. The last time I can remember doing so was probably almost a year ago and it was with a book 99% of my bookish friends loved–Forget You by Jennifer Echols. *cringe*.

  23. I used to be the exact same way. However, since signing up with Goodreads over a year ago I’ve had to put the bad books down. I just have way too many books on my nightstand to waste time with the ones that aren’t for me. In the past, I’d really only have one on the go. Now, I often have 4 or 5 waiting for me!

  24. Oh goodness, I have this exact problem. I’ve only ever given up on I think 2 novels (one of which I still plan to give another chance…).

    One technique I’ve heard is to take 100 and subtract your age, and that’s how many pages you give a book to impress you! For example, I’m 23, so I should give a book 77 pages, but someone who’s 80 should only give it 20. 🙂 I’ve been trying to learn to do this, but it’s just so hard!

    By the way, thank you so much for that baby gif. It is the best thing ever.

  25. I absolutely admire you for being able to make a stand and declare that you will try to develop the ability to DNF books. Because I am so totally like you in that I cannot, for the life of me, put down a book, even if I’m really not liking it or it’s just not clicking for me. We actually even have the same reasons for sticking around with the books, especially #3.

    I’ve been trying to learn how to DNF a book, but the ability, sadly, has not shown itself yet. Instead, I’ve sort of compromised – I’ve started stopping if I don’t really like a book and reading some other book in the meantime. Often, when I return to the first book (that I paused on), I actually find I can read it. I don’t know if that’s just weird processing at work in my head though, haha.

  26. I have been getting better about this. I was kind of the same as you where I wouldn’t let myself move on to the next one until I’d finished my current read, but I think it slowed me down a lot. I’d put the UGH book aside but wouldn’t let myself pick anything else up… so I read nothing. Now I try to have the mentality that if I’ve given it a decent amount of my time, it’s okay to just let it go.

  27. It’s a struggle for me as well. Even if I put a book down, oh for months, or at times years…I can’t get rid of it, because I *have* to finish it…one day. I think for me mostly, it’s that I already put in some time with it and I would rather read a book I dislike and pinpoint the reasons I didn’t like it for discussion. I only have admitted to one DNF book.

  28. This post sounds like something that you pulled right out of my head! (Probably out of a lot of reader’s heads.) I think my problem is that my “I’ll give you this long to prove yourself to me” point is really close to my “Well, I’ve come this far. Might as well keep going” point. I usually push halfway through the book I’m not enjoying, and then there’s that moment of dithering where I’m regarding it with suspicion, hoping I didn’t waste the last 150 pages of my life but wondering whether I can somehow redeem them by making it to the end.

    The problems we face!

  29. I’m late to the game…
    I’ve just finally embraced my DNF shelf on GoodReads. It’s been empty for years and I’ve been guilty of finishing some crappy (or just not for me) books. Within the last month I’ve added 5 books to that shelf.
    And I still sleep well at night! 😉

  30. I actually DNF a lot because I don’t have time to suffer through bad books, I’d much rather be reading something I will enjoy. I do sometimes try these books again as sometimes I like them the second time around for a variety of reasons.

  31. I give a book 3 chapters at the most to catch my interest. If the author hasn’t captured my attention by then it’s not going to happen anyway so I move on.
    I just don’t have the time to keep reading a book I don’t like. It’s like going to the movies. Would you sit through a whole movie if you didn’t like it after 30 mins? I wouldn’t I’d go demand a refund and stop wasting my time.

  32. I never used to be able to DNF a book. It’s only since blogging that I have started putting a book down, I mean yeah I feel bad because someone’s hard work has gone into this book, but with so many books to review there isn’t enough time to wade through the ones you just know aren’t for you. It also makes me feel soooo grumpy and puts me off reading, something which is HORRIBLE!

  33. I used to make myself finish the book. Partly hoping it would get better and partly because I hated saying I didn’t finish it. But now I have learned that I shouldn’t be struggling – I should be enjoying. 🙂

  34. I am exactly like you, even if I hate a book, I have to finish it, I suppose just to convince myself that I truly hated it. It’s even worse when that book is part of a series because I feel like I have to finish the series to know how the story ends even if I hated the first book, which is probably why I only read series that I’m pretty sure I’m going to like


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