Friday, February 11, 2011

Nancy Pearl's rule of 50 for dropping a bad book

Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and ReasonFamous Seattle librarian writes in the Globe and Mail about her "rule of 50":
"When you get to page 50 of a book, ask yourself whether you are really liking it. If not, put it down and seek out another one. Perhaps you'll pick it up again later, and perhaps not. She talks about how she had to overcome the guilt of letting the author down to be able to choose her own reading content."
As Marie's book garden readers will know, I have reached a stage in my life where I too will put down a book if I'm not enjoying it. Sometimes I give it beyond 50 pages, and sometimes I do continue because I want to see how it ends. Pearl says if "all you’re really interested in is who marries whom, or who the murderer is, then turn to the last page and find out. If it’s not on the last page, turn to the penultimate page, or the antepenultimate page, or however far back you have to go to discover what you want to know." I think I could be more disciplined about this practice, and after reading Pearl's wisdom, I will give that a try. (I realize that not all books have to be fine, upstanding literature, but even if they are light they should at least be enjoyable!)

Pearl goes on to say:
"As I wended my way toward 60, and beyond, I could no longer avoid the realization that, while the reading time remaining in my life was growing shorter, the world of books that I wanted to read was, if anything, growing larger. In a flash of, if I do say so myself, brilliance, I realized that my Rule of 50...needed an addendum. And here it is: When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, 'Age has its privileges. And the ultimate privilege of age, of course, is that when you turn 100, you are authorized (by the Rule of 50) to judge a book by its cover.'"
Excellent advice from one of our best Northwest book experts!

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