There are many books we all intend on reading someday and even go out of our way to buy, in the hopes we might read them. Sometimes they are a classic like Catch 22, War and Peace or The Republic.In other cases its published recently and we hear about it in the media, such as 50 Shades of Grey, The Casual Vacancy or the Goldfinch. What makes us abandon books after a few pages or never quite get into it?
Social Media website GoodReads recently published a piece on the psychology of abandonment. Their research found that Catch-22, Lord of the Rings, Ulysses, Moby-Dick, and Atlas Shrugged were the top abandoned books.
The top five most abandoned contemporary books included J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Eat Pray Love. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wicked” were also frequently discarded.
Why do we abandon books after a few pages or get back to them years later? Does the average person really read everything a specific author writes, or just stay locked into their favorite genres? A number of people weighed in on the subject.
“I adore the Harry Potter books, but I’m not the kind who would read everything written by a favourite author and in the case of Rowling, I refuse to read her other novels (excluding the three Harry Potter companion books), The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling.”
Another user weighed in and mentioned “I read for pleasure and to escape the real world, and not to better myself. I’d become a better person by reading those serious tomes, I know, but since I haven’t read them, I’m not a better person, and thus won’t read them.”
Xanthe contributed his thoughts “There are a lot of books that I can’t finish, mainly books with heroines who are too stupid to live (or too annoying to be around) or heroes who are totally scarred by the deaths of their partners for which they blame themselves. Or books about middle-aged women whose husbands have divorced them unexpectedly and now find love with a younger man. Or poor Irish maidservants at the turn of the 20th century who become matriarchs of a dysfunctional clan. Or mysteries in which whodunit is telegraphed by easy process of elimination. Or books in which a whole chapter is devoted to a sex scene for no plot-driven purpose (I’m looking at you, Laurell K. Hamilton). Or “important” books that are supposed to make me reflect upon the human condition by portraying lives of people that I wouldn’t like if I knew them in real life. Or books that are so excessively footnoted to the point that the author has managed to destroy any interest that I might have had in the topic because the rhythm of the books is constantly broken up by them.”
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.