11 of the most abandoned books and why you should pick them back up

Everyone’s done this. You start a book and read maybe a third before putting it down. The reasons vary, often it’s those books you feel like you ‘should’ read rather than the ones you ‘want to’ read.

read the book

So here’s a list of common books people start but admit to never finishing, plus reasons why you really should pick them back up again.

1. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkein

Might as well start with this doorstop of a book. Has there ever been a book as intimidating to hold? Sure, they tried to make it more palatable by selling it in its separate volumes. But let’s be right, we’re a bunch of booknerds who are easily seduced by the charm of a thick spine.

“But I read ‘The Hobbit'” is not an acceptable excuse for this one. Nut up and read this book. Why? Legolas. That’s why.


2. ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak

Don’t be ashamed that you bought this book because of the cover. Or, if it was a couple years later, don’t be ashamed that you bought this book because of the film. Darlings, didn’t we all? But we were surprised to find so many having put this down before it really gets started. It’s a bit of a slow burner at first, but you should give it another go because TEARS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU!


3. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce

In some countries this book is a torture device. Why should you try and plow through it again? Bragging rights. And some freaky fever dreams. Who doesn’t want that? (Yes, yes, it’s also a literary icon).

fever dream

4. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

We now live in a time when the reputation precedes the book. Say what you will about this series, but you need to read it. How else can you join in with the (never ending) discussion?


5. ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte

Oh, you were fooled by the sales pitch for this one too?

This is no epic love story. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is as bleak and as nasty as having to drink ditch water. But you know what? That ditch water won’t kill you. And once you’ve accepted that there is not one single character that is not ugly in some way, you can get on with actually “enjoying” the story.

Wuthering Heights

6. ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville

Whales, man. Or more ‘whale’, singular. Again, another book ruined by expectation and assumptions. Maybe you were expecting Godzilla of the Ocean and were baffled by the Encyclopedia Cetacea. This book deserves reading because it is so much more than its surface value. What’s that they say about icebergs?


7. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and/or ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen

The comments on both of these can be summed up thusly: “<insert title> was nothing like <insert other title>”.

Our advice is not to try the same book again, but to try the other. So if you started ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and couldn’t hack the tone or wanted to poke Elizabeth Bennett with something pointy, then try ‘Northanger Abbey’. And if you weren’t feeling the mock-gothic of ‘Northanger Abbey’ then you’re probably safer in the arms of Mr Darcy.

The message here? READ AUSTEN!

Jane austen

8. ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Watch Baz Lurhmann first, then revisit this book. Why? Technicolor. Beautiful rainbows of colour and pizzazz and party.

the great gatsby

9. ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott

Who put this book down before finishing it? We’re taking names.

my blobby

A rite of passage for many young girls, this book has been handed down the generations. Why? There is a sister for everyone. There is an emotion for everyone. There is a life lesson for everyone. This book is everyone’s book. It deserves a second chance.

10. Watership Down by Richard Adams

With the success of the animated film its hard to imagine people who don’t realise this book is about rabbits.

watership down

The blurb is sneaky, it doesn’t mention any cotton-tailed warren hoppers. This is a book about bunnies. Indeed. But it is also a tail tale of leadership, courage, friendship, life choices and so much more.

11. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Fair play.

game of thrones

JOKING! Whether you picked this up before the series caused the world to explode in a magical mess of fandom and glitter, or if you got it while high on said fandom and glitter, it isn’t necessarily the easiest of reads.

We come full circle because like Tolkein, Martin’s books are like doorstops. But much like the sandwich of the same name, once you start devouring and digesting it, you realise how clever they were for managing to make such a flavoursome filling stand out between the massive mouthfuls of bread.


Why should you read this book and its siblings? Well, the TV show is now moving away from the text story line… so now you have to experience the alternative, right?

game of thrones

Which books have you started but still sit unfinished? Tweet us @maximimpopbooks

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Written by Sarah Clare

Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.

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