The 150 Page Rule

Somehow we get it into our head that if we pick up a book to read for pleasure, we have a moral obligation to finish it. That’s ridiculous. For starters, if a published book doesn’t grab you on the first page, don’t take it home. If that seems too draconian, you can also invoke the Page 99 Test, which supposedly can reveal the quality of the whole book to you.

Once you get that book home, you still can’t be sure you will like it. (Unless it’s the latest book from your most beloved writer in the world.) Nancy Pearl of Book Lust recommends the Rule of 50. She says you should give every book 50 pages to decide whether you can commit to finishing it. If you can’t, give it up. No regrets. Others recommend 100 pages or even 33% as rules of thumbing through pages before you give up.

Well, I’m stubborn, so I usually get a little further into a book before I give up. Also, I’ve heard it said that when you’re reading to learn from a work of fiction, 150 pages will tell you enough about the writer’s style for that book. So I’ve settled on 150 pages.

So, what books have you given up on?


6 thoughts on “The 150 Page Rule

  1. I remember the *first* time I quit a book–I was a teenager, and the book was some generic sword n’ sorcery re-hash. I don’t know if it was a sign of reading maturity or what, I just remember the sudden dawning realization that this book was a lousy imitation of books I’d already read, even if it was about dragons.

    Kind of like when your palate wakes up and you realize that McDonalds is not, in fact, very good.

    These days I find that even if the book is terrible I keep reading, so I can analyze what makes it terrible and avoid it in my own writing. Even pleasure reading is work now… stupid writing classes.

  2. I have given up on many books, mostly because the writing was terrible, and the writer preachy. Other books have not held my attention due to the language content.

  3. The one that I gave up lately was Campbell & Reece Biology, Seventh Edition.
    There are a number of reasons I gave up on it:
    1. Library lets you keep things only three weeks, which isn’t even enough time to look at the pictures
    2. The book is heavy. I mean, you can’t curl up in bed with it. If you try lying down on your back with the book on your chest, you stop breathing.
    3. I disagreed with some of the wording in the pages covering human evolution — feeling that in one part, the author had tried to put too much separation between us and apes. We’re great apes. I’m a great ape. You’re a great ape. LOL.

    I read the first 250 pages, then spent the rest of my three weeks with the book looking at the pictures, and I didn’t finish.

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