When do you ditch a bad book?
I usually choose books carefully so as to not waste my time starting something I won't finish. But it does happen - that is a bad book comes along that really should be dropped.
However, many people, myself included, struggle with making that decision to close a book part way and not return to it. It feels like failure. I think it's something drummed into some of us as kids that not finishing a book is bad, or somehow lazy. And we waste time sticking at it so as to be neither of those things.
Life is too short to waste on truly bad books but where does one draw the line at giving the book a chance and wasting time? I used to ditch a book if I wasn't feeling it, and came across five or more spelling or grammar errors on one page.
That still left me reading bad books with good spelling and grammar. But today I picked up a great rule from legendary librarian Nancy Pearl. The rule of fifty.
She says she came up with it due to the shortness of time and the immensity of the world of books.
"If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up. If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit. Since that number gets smaller and smaller as we get older and older, our big reward is that when we turn 100, we can judge a book by its cover!"
I really like this because 50 pages seems reasonable and fits in with the 50 page dash concept, where an author makes sure the first 50 pages really get the reader into the book. If they can't get you hooked then, there's little hope for the rest of the book.
And I don't just think it's shortness of time that allows you to ditch books earlier as you get older. Generally speaking, most of us have more reading experience as we get older because we've read more books. That gives us the ability to better judge books as we start reading them.
Most importantly, bad books should be ditched before it ruins your relationship with reading. If a string of books put you off reading then that's terrible.
Ditch those books!
Usually I can tell within a few pages of the book whether I'm going to like it, or not. If it doesn't capture my attention and keep me wanting to read further to see what happens, I ditch it. Overall it could've been a good book, but not good enough for me. It's rare that I have to ditch a book though. I guess that's a good thing. Lol.