Most Abandoned Books List Headed Up by E.L. James and J.K. Rowling

Most Abandoned Books List

One thing that seems to be gaining ground on the internet is statistics: now we can measure anything and everything, although a great many of these statistics aren’t relevant to a lot of people’s lives (I mean, do I really need to know “The top 3 health-related searches on the Internet are (in this order): Depression, Allergies, & Cancer"?)

Goodreads, on the other hand, pulls together statistics that are of interest, primarily because they pertain to books and readers. Anything that sheds light on the buying/reading habits of readers is of interest to me as a writer. Their latest infographic looks at something they’re calling “the psychology of abandonment,” and it’s about the most-abandoned books and why a reader will leave a book before finishing it.

The results on one hand are unsurprising: of the five most abandoned, they’re all big sellers, including J.K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m sure there will be people going “How can that be? It was brilliant!” (or not), including me, as I had no trouble getting into The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But then, I thought the most-abandoned classics list was also revealing (and I’ve finished all of them except Ulysses).

Their analysis of when and why people leave a book unread is also interesting - over 38% of readers finish a book no matter what! On the contrary, the biggest section of abandoners, at almost 28%, abandon a book at between 50 and 100 pages. I quite liked the quote for it too: “I once heard the rule for when to abandon a book is 100 minus your age.”

In this day and age, particularly with the glut of eBooks I have on my eReader, I have to admit to leaving a book unfinished if it’s badly written/edited or the subject matter is uninteresting to me. Yes, I know, bad me. Which begs the question: when do you abandon a book?

You can see the full infographic here.

Dean Fetzer

News by Dean Fetzer

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for the past 21 years. After a career in graphic design, he started a pub review website in the late 90’s; He left that in 2011 to concentrate on his thriller writing, as well as offering publishing services for authors, poets and artists. When not writing - or in the pub - he can be found in the theatre, live music venues and travelling.

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Paul Kunath's picture
Paul Kunath July 10, 2013 - 7:17am

Wow that is acurate for me. I rarely give up on books but I did put down 50 Shades and Casual Vacancy in the past year.

Ryan Hartman's picture
Ryan Hartman from Philadelphia is reading The Neverending Story by Michael Ende July 10, 2013 - 7:27am

Consider Phlebas by Ian M. Banks is the only book I've outright abandoned. I don't know what it was, maybe the prose, maybe the mary-sue vibe I was getting, but I made it about half way before tossing the book. It just didn't resonate, but I gave it a shot.

It's odd because I really enjoy sci-fi and I had heard such good things about this one.

Lawrence's picture
Lawrence from Dallas, Texas is reading Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King July 10, 2013 - 7:29am

I remember putting down Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The first 150 pages of that book is basically an info dump and it does little to try and hide it.

However, I came back to the book after prodding by friends and fell in love with everything after those first pages.

I think Lisbeth is my favorite heroine in any fiction I've ever read. At the end of the third book I was actually fist pumping for her to win.

jennydecki's picture
jennydecki from Chicagoland is reading The Foreigners July 10, 2013 - 7:35am

I"m just happy to know I'm not the only person openly admitting I didn't finish books on GoodReads. 

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life July 10, 2013 - 8:26am

I quit House of Leaves at around page 80 the first time, but now it is one of my favorite books. The only other book I can remember quitting was Gravity's Rainbow when I was in school, but that was out of laziness and I will go back to it one day.

Shalaka Salian's picture
Shalaka Salian July 10, 2013 - 8:55am

I couldn't read beyond 120 pages of Catch-22 . I'm glad I'm not alone.

MichaelJoseph's picture
MichaelJoseph from New York is reading Underworld by: Don Delillo July 10, 2013 - 9:40am

I couldn't finish Naked Lunch, I made it to about 120 pages before I could admit to myself how much I hated it. Put it down for something else and never went back.

I also made it to about 250 pages in Infinite Jest before abandoning it. That's a book that made me feel stupid for not getting what all the hype was about. I'm still determined to try and go back to that one, but man does he know how to take the most boring settings and slow down a plot to a near crawl (on second thought I dread the day I deside to tackle that one again).

zyxxyz's picture
zyxxyz July 10, 2013 - 11:42am

I'm normally very selective about what I start, so I don't abandon books very often.

A couple of months ago I started reading, mostly on a whim, The Sun Also Rises.  The first 30% was dull, flavorless prose about some of the shallowest, most vapid characters I've ever met.  I've read fluffy romance novels with more realistic characters leading fuller lives and experiencing more interesting hardships.  

I regret losing the short time I spent on it, when I had so many other great books on my Kindle waiting for me.


SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list July 10, 2013 - 4:32pm

I'm the type of person who will finish a book eventually. It took me almost 9 months to finish The Casual Vacancy. That one was difficult to get through, but I set it aside and came back to it. There are two other books that I've set aside and am planning to go back to, and that's The Trial by Kafka and Feed by Mira Grant. The only book I wasn't able to finish was Pure by Rebecca Ray. Not sure what it was about that book, but I hated it. Picked that one up, read a couple of chapters, tossed it into a box for donation, and never looked back.

Allan Mills's picture
Allan Mills July 10, 2013 - 4:32pm

 Doesn't entirely surprise me. In Rowling's case she'd have a massive fan base who read her Harry Potter series and would have picked up her new book regardless of the genre change. Then, after realising they weren't interested because it isn't a Harry Potter novel, they'd stop reading.

 The other books would have become well known for similar reasons and had people pick them up only to conclude it wasn't what they wanted.

Barrett Smailes's picture
Barrett Smailes July 10, 2013 - 4:58pm

I've never made it through the Harry Potter series, I read them as came out but have never made it through Order of the Pheonix. Harry is so whiny in it and I stopped caring, and nothing else in the that particular story is gripping enough for me to finish it.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things July 10, 2013 - 6:04pm

I enjoyed Harry Potter well enough, though I do think the first book opened a little slow to hold the target audience's attention without a little prodding from other fans.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was much worse in this regard. I never would have made it past the first chapter without people threatening to murder me if I didn't at least finish the first book.

Benjamin Martin's picture
Benjamin Martin from Portland, OR is reading ... July 10, 2013 - 7:00pm

I've only ever abandoned one book, because it jumped the shark at about page 17. It was a murder mystery, and the murderer left a note for the main character of the book (a female F.B.I. profiler on medical leave for being raped, beaten, and disfigured by the killer who murdered her husband and daughter). In the letter, the culprit claimed to be the descendant of Jack the Ripper. I slammed the book shut and threw it across the room. I didn't touch it again until I found someone who would take the piece of shit. I wouldn't have even used it for toilet paper.

Banz's picture
Banz from Brisbane is reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman July 11, 2013 - 3:48am

I think there must be something wrong with me as I actually didn't mind the start of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Put me down for abandoning Ulysses and Wicked.

The Trial was a book that wasn't how I imagined it would be, but I got through it. 

Robert Granger's picture
Robert Granger from Calgary, Alberta is reading Gone Girl July 11, 2013 - 7:35pm

I lost steam during my first read-through of Lord of the Rings--near the beginning of Return of the King. I started again from the beginning, and finished, many years later...totally worth it, o' course!

I completely understand people giving up on Catch-22. It took about 150-200 pages to find its rhythm, but after it did, it was a hilariously poignant book. To those who gave up on it: do think about giving it another try!

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read July 12, 2013 - 10:25am

I’ve abandoned a few books, unfortunately. Didn’t have an issue with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and found it near impossible to put down The Girl Who Played With Fire, but The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest was extremely boring for me—though it does start with a bang and I managed to finish it.

Ground Up by Michael Idov is the worst book I’ve ever read, and I abandoned that one with only a few pages left to go. Straight up didn’t care and wasn't going to spend any more time letting that thing have me believing I cared.