When to Quit a Book

The book community uses a handy acronym to describe giving up on a title: DNF, or “did not finish.” For some readers, those three little letters carry a whole lot of baggage. Rather than risk sacrificing the satisfaction of fully finishing a read, the most persistent (read: stubborn) among us will slog through a 600-page novel where nothing happens to the bitter, boring end.

Reader, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to finish that book you hate. DNF-ing isn’t a personal failure. Bailing on a book comes down to a simple truth: Leisure time is limited. Embracing the DNF lifestyle means you recognize the value of that time and choose not to waste it.

That said, the choice to quit on a book you took the time to track down isn’t necessarily an easy one. You might be surprised to learn that some of the most pro-DNF readers around put serious thought into what books no longer deserve their continued attention. Whether it’s the rule of thirds, the Nancy Pearl method, or just a gut feeling, everyone has their own unique DNF decision-making system. We tapped our POPSUGAR Book Club group members for an inside look into how some of the most voracious readers around decide it’s time to move onto the next title. Read ahead, and release yourself from any book-quitting guilt while you’re at it.

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