Abandonment: A Book Lover’s Worst Crime?

“I am embarrassed for all of us”…Love!

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:

  1. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Watching these fifty shades of grey dry would be more exciting than reading that drivel!

And here were the top five abandoned classics:

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce
  4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Even Atlas got tired after a while!

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.

Now this? This I would read!

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?

6 thoughts on “Abandonment: A Book Lover’s Worst Crime?

  1. Great topic! I am a leaver of books. there are too many books I want to read that I just can’t justify spending my time on a book that doesn’t interest me. I need a book where the character interests me, if they are weak and snively, chances are I won’t follow through. The exception was/is any Gillian Flynn novel where weak characters are important to the storyline and there is cause for the character behaving in that way. I will challenge myself by reading a book that makes me feel uncomfortable, murder, occult, hedonistic but if it it these things for shock value and not well written – I dump them. Books I have dumped along the way…A tree Grows in Brooklyn – I just stopped caring. Solar by Ian McEwan – DULL DULL DULL The Life we Lead – Diane Chamberlain – STUPID
    There are others but those are the recent ones I have dumbed. I don’t consider myself a book snob, but I expect people who get published to get published because their book is well written and interesting. I do not expect every book to appeal to me, but please the Shades of Grey series is an insult to books everywhere.

  2. This is great! I saw that info graphic, too, and thought it was pretty cool. This is a timely topic for me, because I recently “abandoned” two books. One was Look at Me by Jennifer Egan. Have you read it? I kinda think I know what the author was trying to do, but I couldn’t take the characters. Oh, I just couldn’t handle how messed up they all were. Award winning book, too! The second was Octavian Nothing, Volume II. I loved Volume I – really thought-provoking, deep book. I wanted to love the second book, I really did. But it was just too boring and difficult to get through.

    Also, as far as LOTR goes, I love, love, love The Hobbit and think it’s pretty easy to get through. (I will always love Bilbo Baggins best of all the characters in those books.) But the LOTR trilogy WAS really hard to read!

    • No, I haven’t heard of either of those books! That’s a shame–I hate when I was really looking forward to reading something, and it’s so disappointing. And yes, “The Hobbit” is definitely an easier read! 🙂

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