What’s a DNF? Bookstagram terms you need to know

As a bookstagrammer or even as a casual observer of the bookstagram community, you probably love the beautiful covers, collectible editions, swoonworthy reads, honest opinions, seriously hot takes, and books that you just need to know about. However, like any online community, bookstagram has created a language of its own referring to things only book readers will understand. 

If you’re new to the whole world, then I’m here to share with you some of the most commonly used terms and phrases you will find across the captions of millions of bookstagram photos.

TBR: To Be Read

The most commonly used term for folks who love to create a hopeful pile of books they wish to read. These are the books kept in waiting, held off until the perfect moment when someone will pick them up and actually read them. You will find yourself adding a ton of books to your TBR after a day of perusing bookstagram.

DNF: Did Not Finish

One of the most incredible things about reading is that it’s completely subjective. A book that someone absolutely loves will not be someone else’s cup of tea. And as a bookstagrammer, you’re bound to try a lot of books in hopes of finding the golden needle in the haystack. And if the books don’t live up to your standards or the hype, you’re encouraged to put the book down and step away. Life’s too short to read books you don’t like.

NRN: Not Right Now

A more recently coined phrase, this is to describe a book that you’re enjoying, but could be enjoying more if life wasn’t getting in your way. If you’re a mood reader like me, you end up trying a bunch of different books that read well, but you know if you weren’t worried about that deadline at work or the kids’ soccer game on Saturday you would better enjoy it. There is a better time and place for it. Those books are placed back on the shelf, back on your TBR, in hopes for a better reading day.

ARC: Advanced Reader Copy

As a bookstagrammer, you end up becoming a book influencer. Your taste in books has amassed a certain following, and it’s drawn the attention of many publishers who would love a little space on your page. Publishers may approach your DMs with a possible ARC, an advanced reader copy. Sent to industry professionals, booksellers, librarians, and journalists at major media outlets, an ARC allows professionals to read a book before anyone else can to discern if the book is worthy for coverage or a space on their bookshelves. As bookstagram and booktok trend upward for bookish exposure, publishers have shared copies of these limited ARCs to influencers as well in the hopes of a little bit of ad space on their page. Any publicity is good publicity.


Similar to an ARC, NetGalley is a website that provides industry professionals, book bloggers, and book influencers access to early copies of books. Instead of a physical copy of the book, they are provided safe access to eBook versions. While many publishers may require approval before grabbing a copy, this is also a great place to read indie and self-published books that you may not find normally on the bookstagram platform.

HEA: Happily Ever After

According to the Romance Writers of America, a romance novel must contain two criteria:

  • The story must focus on the couple and their relationship
  • It must end in a happily ever after (or happy for now)

The term “HEA” refers to the books that have that happy couple ending up together in the end. Perhaps it’s forever and perhaps it’s for the time being, but an HEA is that tingly happy feeling you get when you finish a novel and all is well in the world.

A slump

The most dreaded moment in any reader’s life is a reading slump. This typically takes place when you’ve read way too much and now your reading energy is tapped out. You may need a break. You may need to embark on your other hobbies or read something smutty to get over it. While there’s no rhyme or reason as to why someone enters a slump, it’s always best to take it in stride, go with your gut, and hope that the slump only lasts a day.


Similarly to a night of heavy drinking, a reading hangover is when you’ve just finished a 600-page book about a girl and her dragons within two days and it consumes you to a point where you can’t think of anything else. You try to read other books, but they don’t hit the same way. You try to go about your day, but all you can think of is the world that you just popped out of. The sun is brighter. Sounds are harsher. You keep thinking about that one detail that didn’t make sense or that moment when they finally kissed rather than how to function in real life. You just want to go back to dragon world and live there for a little while longer.

ACOTAR: A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas 

This abbreviation is actually in reference to one of the most popular fantasy series on bookstagram. You may have seen it around, heard about it, wondered what it’s all about. And the reason why you may be curious to check it out is because everyone talks about it. So if you ever see ACOTAR, it’s probably going to be about this series.

CoHo: Colleen Hoover

If you’ve been on bookstagram over the past few years, then you probably know who Colleen Hoover is. My mom knows who Colleen Hoover is with the immense popularity of her book It Ends With Us. So if you ever see the phrase “CoHo” hanging around in the bookstagram world, know that it’s referring to this author.