Nancy Pearl's Revised 'Rule of 50'

Nancy Pearl's Revised 'Rule of 50'

"On the spur of the moment, with no particular psychological or literary theory in mind to justify it, I developed my Rule of 50: Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you're really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you're not, then put it down and look for another....

"This rule of 50 worked exceedingly well until I entered my own 50s. 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 was incomplete. It 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."

--Nancy Pearl (librarian, author and action figure) in the Toronto Globe &


Joni Rodgers said…
I totally agree. I've had my own 80 Page Rule since I was a teenager, devouring a book a day. ((nostalgic sigh)) If I find myself glancing at page numbers, I'll force march to pg 80, then I'm out. Now that Nancy Pearl has confirmed that I won't burn in hell for this, I might just revise it down to 50.

Note to writers: The first 50 pgs of the book are critical! Get it right and the reader will read on.
Wendy Scott said…
I LOVE this! I used to have a "finish what you start no matter what" rule on reading, but some time during the last few years, I threw that rule out. There are just too many good books out there to waste time on those that don't intrigue, inspire, or entertain us.

I am currently struggling to maintain interest in the book I'm reading and am considering giving up on it. I'm on page 150 (almost 1/2 done), so now I feel justified in setting it aside.
Love this, Lucinda. I used to give a book 100 pages. Not so any longer.

However, I've sometimes slogged through the front end of a book I was hating because others assured me it was well worth the effort. And I've been well rewarded. Last memorable instance was THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, which has a LOT of draggin'. But by the end, I was so in love with it, I immediately ordered and devoured the next two books in the trilogy.

So as often as I've put aside books for cause in well under 50 pages, I can't help wondered how many great books I have missed because of my impatience.

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