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?

Does Age Affect Your Reading Experience?

You’re never too old for cupcakes!

Last week Flavorwire had an interesting article about the “15 Books You Should Definitely Not Read in Your 20s.” Some of the books included themes about falling out of love, taking romantic road-trips, or the horrors afflicted upon or by children.

Others, like Gossip Girl and Fifty Shades of Grey, were not so much presented as a slight against all young adult fiction or erotica, just that these series are not worthy enough representatives of their genres.

However, as an avid reader, I must say that this list was pretty disappointing. Blowing off Plutarch because, “The Romans aren’t going anywhere?” Seriously? Most of the reasons for avoiding these books were superficial and weren’t even limited to people in their 20s.

By all means, read Terry Pratchett even though Discworld has 39 installments (not to be morbid, but wouldn’t reading the series while you’re young mean that you still have plenty of time to finish it?).

The only legitimate type of stories on the list that might be affected by age are the ones that deal with life’s transitions. You can certainly enjoy Eat, Pray, Love in your 20s, but I can see how reading about the struggles after divorce would better impact people who are old enough to experience the same challenges.

And even then, that’s only assuming that everyone lives on the same timeline. Some people will never marry, divorce, have children or pets, go to college, move across country or abroad, or even live to see old age. That doesn’t mean that their lives are less rich or fulfilling.

Of course, lying about your age is like keeping your life on repeat!

So yes, I felt that I was too young to appreciate a troubled marriage tale like Wife 22. In school, there’s also many classics that we fail to recognize their significance because we’re too wrapped up in teenage self-absorption.

But after taking another look at my “Books I’ve Read” list, most of the stories are enjoyable at any age. Granted, it helps that one of the biggest reasons that I read is to escape from the daily grind. I’ve never dated a vampire, been on trial, lived in Paris, time-traveled, or possessed magical powers, so it really doesn’t matter how old I am when reading about people who have.

So are there any books that you feel you should have read sooner or later in life? Why or why not? Let’s get a lively debate going!

PS: And for books you definitely should read in your 20s, check out a few from my non-fiction week: Life After College20 Something, 20 Everything and Generation Me.

UPDATE 10:40AM PST: Thanks to Grace over at the wonderful blog, A Confederacy of Spinsters, I stumbled upon Buzzfeed’s “65 Books You Need to Read in Your 20s.” My opinion? Another superficial list of mostly modern American novels that should by no means be limited to only 20-somethings. Lots of disappointed commenters. Skim with a grain of salt!