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Danielle J. Dresser | Why I Started to DNF. . . And Not Feel Bad About It

May 14, 2020

To DNF: in which you Do Not Finish a book.

Once upon a time, I was a diligent reader who started a book and then finished it dutifully, whether I liked it or not. There were times when I was the one of only a few people in my book club who slogged through a long tome or truly dismal narrative because I felt some sort of duty to the author who took the time to write a book.

Ah, to be young and not as cynical.

Now, I have a job that entails reading every single day (what a bore, right? Kidding, it’s a dream!), I’m a mother to a very precocious daughter (she’s a clearly a genius), I like to binge-watch TV (I will neither confirm nor deny that I finished the latest season of Nailed It! in one sitting), and I’m also trying to write my own book (it’s still a work in progress). Not to mention, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and concentration has suddenly become a concept I can’t seem to grasp.

But one thing has saved my sanity, one thing has brought me sweet relief.

I’ve started to DNF books. Sometimes they’re for work, sometimes they’re for book club, and sometimes they’re for myself. But you know what? If a book isn’t working for me, or a major plot point pisses me off, or if I’m so bored I fall asleep while reading, I simply STOP READING THEM. What an idea! And it has made me so much happier when it comes to the strange pressure I was putting on myself to finish books.

There’s something freeing about deciding to start something and just leave it alone. At least for me, this generally has absolutely nothing to do with the author, or even the story… “It’s me and not you,” I feel like I have to tell my books when I break up with them. . . I mean, put them back on a shelf or I delete them from my eReader. Is it the hype the precedes a book’s release? Is it my own personal prejudices when it comes to subject matter? Is it I’m cranky and have no idea what day it is or when was the last time I drove? All of the above, many times over. And that’s fine.

So here it is – here’s your permission: go ahead and DNF that book you’ve been trying to get through because everyone says it’s so great, but it just isn’t for you. Leave behind the novel that just creeps you out for some reason. Say goodbye to the story that makes you cry because it’s so dull. There are more books out there for you to find and enjoy! They are waiting for you!

And now you might be saying, Okay Ms. DNF, what have you actually read lately? Here are some recent reads that I devoured and loved and won’t stop recommending. Will they work for you? Maybe. . . but maybe not. And that’s fine!  It’s a wild time – read something worth your while.


I actually avoided reading this book for a while because there was so much hype surrounding t, but then my mom bought it, so I borrowed it and I’m considering not returning it because it lived up to all the hype and more. I love that it’s told in first person from both the hero and heroine’s perspectives. And this is one book called a romantic comedy that is actually FUNNY. The balance between humor, the love story, and the conflict all work well together, and I flew through this book over a couple of days.

RUTHLESS PRIDE by Naima Simone

What an awesome start to a new multi-author series, Dynasties: Seven Sins. The hero’s father stole millions from many clients in one New Jersey town, and he’s spent years rebuilding his company’s and family’s reputation there. The heroine is the reporter working on an article and expose on the state of things on the anniversary of his father’s disappearance. And naturally, shenanigans ensue. It’s quick, extravagant, and has the exact right amount of steam. I’m ready to ready the rest of this serious over the next seven months!


This novella was exactly the right thing for me to read when I read it a couple of weeks ago. This is quick, dirty, and so much fun. It’s also chock-full of romance tropes in the best way: best friend’s little sister, bodyguard romance, forced proximity, and everyone’s favorite: just one bed. And both the hero and heroine are plus size, showing body representation and positivity in a way that isn’t pandering or twee. I’ll probably go re-read this one right now.


Perk of being a sometimes–book reviewer, you get to read books early! This one comes out later this month and is seriously so wonderful! An updated Persuasion starring a south Asian chef and Brazilian soccer star? Family drama, a cooking show, and unrequited longing? Austen references throughout? YES, PLEASE.


Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser is an avid reader, lackluster-yet-mighty crafter, and accomplished TV binge-watcher. Once upon a time, she was a publisher publicist and continues to cultivate her love of books and reading by chatting with the best authors in the business. She lives in Chicagoland with her very own romance hero husband, darling daughter, and two tempestuous cats. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @dj_dresser. 

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