Thursday, October 09, 2003

Words to live... er... read by 

I've seen a couple of articles now about Nancy Pearl, the Seattle librarian who has inspired an action figure "with amazing push-button shushing action!" But the NYTimes included an extra tidbit that i may have to incorporate into my reading habits: The Rule of 50.

"Nobody should ever have to finish a book they're not thoroughly enjoying, but you need to give the book a chance," she explained. "It seems to me that a good amount of pages would be 50. At the end of 50 pages, you ask, `Am I really liking this book, or am I just gutting it out?' This rule worked well for me for many years, until I started to get closer to 50 years old myself. I realized that time was short, and that the world of books is larger than ever."

So Ms. Pearl, who is now 58, came up with this ingenious calculus of reading: "Now I have an amended Rule of 50: If you're 50 years of age and under, you follow the original rule. But if you're over 50, you subtract your age from 100, and that number is the number of pages you have to read.

It's nice to see that she kept it simple -- no incorporating the length of the book, or the point-size of the type, or the Dewey Decimal category that it falls into. I already have a tendency to leave books sitting around after starting them but not really getting into them -- if i had a point where an official decision could be made, i think i'd be alot better about clearing out my bookshelves.


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