Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50

School has taught us to finish every book from the start. Students feel that it’s necessary to read every single word of the material because of its possibility of showing up on a test. However, this is one of the most unhealthy habits associated with reading.

We need to change our mindset about quitting books. Quitting is usually considered a negative activity but best-selling author and librarian, Nancy Pearl recommends the Rule of 50 for the books you don’t want to finish. She writes:

If you’re 50 years old or younger, give every book about 50 pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give it up.

If you’re over 50, which is when time gets shorter, subtract your age from 100 – the result is the number of pages you should read before deciding whether or not to quit.

If you’re 100 or over you get to judge the book by its cover, despite the dangers in doing so.

This surely makes sense because as you get older, you have less and less time to waste on a boring book. If you’re reading a book you don’t find interesting for the sake of finishing it, you might as well drop it and not feel guilty about it.

Also, since our age is finite, we can only read a limited number of books. Every time you’re reading a book from start to finish, it becomes one of those limited books you read in your lifetime. For every four books you give up on, you find one that you like.

If you find yourself constantly checking how many pages are left in a book, it’s time to stop reading it and start reading something else. Completing a book isn’t a victory and quitting one definitely doesn’t mean you lack focus. A dull book is blocking behind it a list of books you might end up getting hooked onto.

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