Yesterday I came across an interesting infographic on the Goodreads blog, titled “The Psychology of Abandonment.” It discussed which books are the most abandoned by readers, and the reasons why.
Here were the top five abandoned modern novels:
- The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Wicked by Gregory Maguire
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
And here were the top five abandoned classics:
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The most common reasons for ditching a book were if it was slow, boring, or poorly written/edited. More righteous readers also abandoned stories if they were “inappropriate” or “immoral.” Granted, these labels are all subjective, and it would take a closer look to determine how people defined them.
However, most Goodreads users are determined to see a story to its rightful end. Over 38% of them always finish books, no matter what. These people cited some sort of compulsive commitment and dogged determination to continue turning pages.
As for me, I can understand these top picks. Many people jump on a bandwagon regardless of whether it’s a good fit for them; I’m not a fan of violent thrillers, so I didn’t even bother with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The other choices were also understandable: A great number of readers were disappointed with Rowling’s first attempt to leave the Harry Potter series behind, and honestly Fifty Shades is so horribly written, I’m surprised by its massive popularity.
The classics I believe, however, were more debatable. Familiar with Melville’s work, I’ve already mentioned that I’d never go near the dull-fest that is Moby Dick. I also haven’t heard great things about Joyce and Rand. Even Catch-22, although I enjoyed it for the most part, wasn’t riveting enough to motivate me to finish it in less than a month.
BUT! The Lord of the Rings?! I admit that the prose is extremely historical and thus dry at times, but oh my goodness is it such a fantastic story! I have a feeling that the more you enjoy bubblegum bandwagon picks like Fifty Shades, the less you’d like LOTR. And you know what? I’m okay with that. More merit-worthy literature for me!
I’m also one of those readers who rarely abandons a book. Even if they’re horrendous (I’m looking at you, Pop Kids), I’m motivated enough by my self-imposed reading quota to complete them.
Surprisingly, the only one that comes to mind is Pride and Prejudice, which surely would get me murdered by most book lovers. Perhaps one day I’ll return to it with a better state of mind, but for now, I gave it 50 pages to wow me, and it failed.
So what books have you ditched? What were your reasons for abandoning them? Any that you plan on giving a second chance in the future?
- Why are books abandoned? (tysonadams.com)
- The most abandoned books on Goodreads [infographic] (mithrilwisdom.com)
- Abandonment issue: when do you give up on a book? (guardian.co.uk)
- The Books People Leave Unfinished (theatlanticwire.com)
- Goodreads Users Reveal What Makes a Book Readable (goodereader.com)