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Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50

50-Something Library Thingers

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Apr 21, 2011, 10:28am Top

I have too many books to read and not enough time to read them. So I hate to waste time reading a book twice or reading a bad book. I don’t.

But at what point do I decide my book is bad and stop wasting my time on it?

Nancy Pearl has a “Rule of 50.” I just read about it and have decided to use it. It goes like this.

When you get to the bottom of page 50, if the book is still boring or you otherwise don’t like it, stop wasting your time.

I especially like her Rule of 50 for 50-plussers because I’m 54, and the older I get, the less time I have: when you’re over 50, subtract your age from 100. That number is the number of pages that should be your limit. And when you reach 100, you are authorized to judge a book by its cover.

See Nancy's article at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/books/nancy-pearls-rule-of-50-for-dropp...

Apr 21, 2011, 11:10am Top

My first thought was "No way, I'm a quick reader and I've always* read everything I've started and then made a decision as to its worth."

Then I remembered just the other day when I was reading the second volume of the Elder Gods series, The Treasured One, and I realised that it was crap! So was the first volume, The Elder Gods. They were just the Belgariad, re-written. As was The Malloreon series and The Tamuli series. Why was I wasting time reading the same damn thing over and over, albeit in different covers and with different titles?

So I'm not going to, not any more. Any new book is going to get a bookmark inserted around about page 48 (I'm 52) and when the bookmark is reached, a decision will be made. Firmly.

Thank you for helping me make this decision. Life is too short for bad coffee, bad wine, bad chocolate or bad writing.

*Except for The Eighty Minute Hour. Started it three, four, maybe five times. Can not read it!

Apr 21, 2011, 8:35pm Top

I feel better knowing there's a rule of 50. I always felt guilty (unless the book is really, really bad) not finishing a book. Now I can free my OCD self!

One of the things I really like about LT is that it's so much easier to find the next good read.

Apr 21, 2011, 9:30pm Top

Interesting...I usually wait till the almost the middle of the book, if it is not doing anything for me I go to the end and read a few pages for a last chance.

Apr 22, 2011, 4:07am Top

I think I probably came across the 50 rule when I was about 50, but didn't know about the subtracting your age from 100. So now I only need to read to page 42! I don't end up abandoning many books, but find this 'rule' a useful 'get out' if a book just isn't working for me.

Nov 25, 2011, 1:14pm Top

I love Nancy Pearl's rule of 50. I'm just starting down the slope..... a book gets 49 pages to engage me. I still have the compulsion to complete most books I start, but it has been helpful to feel more empowered to protect my precious - and limited - reading time. I guess it's a shame someone like Nancy had to come along and do said empowering.

Nov 26, 2011, 10:13am Top

I think that's a great rule.......I will have to be strong.....I feel compelled to finish any book I begin!

Nov 26, 2011, 1:10pm Top

I guess I must be older than I look, because if a book isn't doing it for me by 15 or twenty pages in, I jettison it. On the other hand, I WILL read bad books if the plot hooks me, even though I groan at the stupidity of the characters or the terrible writing.

Dec 22, 2011, 5:58pm Top

I recently invoked the 50 rule. I began reading a series of Roman mysteries with high hopes but the style of writing was off-putting. The author wrote well, but in a style I didn't enjoy. I regretted taking her books back to the library but then the book I picked up next was well worth it.

Feb 22, 2012, 3:25pm Top

I like this rule of 50 also. But I, too, have a compulsion to finish what I started. However, I recently stopped reading THE WITCH OF HEBRON at page 50. Talk about depressing! I hated that book.

Feb 22, 2012, 4:55pm Top

I've been known to abandon a book after 2 paragraphs, Ahab's Wife, and another after 900 pages, The Far Pavilions.

2008 was the year I decided to commit to finishing every book I started that year. That lasted until March. I found myself unhappy reading - and reading is supposed to be joyous, entertaining, educational, and fun. So I stopped that quickly. If a book doesn't appeal to me, I put it back on my shelf. It may interest me another day, week, month, year. Or, if it angers me enough, I get rid of it. Thrift Store, Library Sale, Bookmooch.

No rules. They give me the heebie jeebies.

Feb 22, 2012, 8:21pm Top

Hey Techeditor! Good to hear from you!

I heard of Ms. Pearl's Rule of 50 a few years back and immediately decided it made sense. I will be 54 in 2 weeks! Time is short and life is full of distractions.

Jun 19, 2012, 1:21pm Top

WordMaven, sorry I haven't read this until now. Are you employed?

Jun 25, 2012, 1:50pm Top

Hi TechEditor,

I was employed for a whopping 3 months and was laid off again on June 8th. You?

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