Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Rule of 50

Recently my supervisor shared with our department Nancy Pearl’s revised Rule of 50. Having read through the article in which the esteemed Ms. Pearl shares her revised rule, I found myself nodding quite a bit.

Two examples: 

  1. While I’ve always been a voracious reader, it wasn’t until recent years that I finally stopped feeling so very guilty when I didn’t finish reading a book. Why was I spending so much time on books that I didn’t like when there are so many more books I want to read? Is it a product of my upbringing? Just like I was told to clean my plate at dinner (i.e. eat everything on it), did I feel that I needed to read the entire book?
  2. As stated in her essay, not finishing a book now doesn’t mean it can’t be attempted again later. This brings to mind The Lord of the Rings. Why? Because I read The Hobbit and started to read LOTR three times before I finally finished the books. Did I think they weren’t good? No. The story just didn’t hold my attention enough until the third try. On a side note, the three readings were in 7th, 9th, and finally, 12th grades. 
So, this brings us to the original Rule of 50. It is simple. Give a book 50 pages. If by page 50 you still feel that it isn’t for you, go ahead and set it aside for something else. If you just want to know how it ends, feel free to check the last few pages without reading through the middle chapters.
The revised rule? That I will share using the developer’s own words:

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.

Of course, as an avid audiobook “reader”, I wonder how to translate the original rule to the audio counterparts of books? Usually I give an audiobook one CD, which is approximately an hour of listening. Should I listen longer?

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I think one CD would be good, as its 60 minutes. How long would it take you to read 50 pages?