On July 9, Goodreads posted an infographic cataloging reader responses to a survey. It’s a fascinating look at “The Psychology of Abandonment.”

They asked readers:

  • What books have you abandoned?
  • Why do you abandon books?
  • What makes you keep reading a book?
  • and, How far into a book do you abandon it?

As a writer, these are useful questions because I want to know what keeps people reading. I know why I keep reading, but not others.

Some of the findings I found most interesting were:

  • I completed and enjoyed three of the top five most abandoned books. I own the other two but haven’t read them yet, and I know at least one WTW member who’s reading and loving Wicked right now – proof that we all have varied reading tastes which is great for us as writers. There’s something for everyone, so keep writing.
  • I wasn’t surprised that Moby Dick, Ulysses, and Atlas Shrugged were the classics that people abandoned most often. I was surprised that people couldn’t get through Lord of the Rings.
  • Almost a third of readers will give a book through the first 50-100 pages before abandoning it which means not only does the first chapter have to be great, but the first third of the book must continue to hook a reader.
  • Almost half of the readers said that they put books down because they’re boring. Readers like consistent action. Something must happen in every chapter and every scene to keep the story moving forward.

If you were to answer the Goodreads survey questions, what books have you abandoned and why?

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