May 5, 2015

Are you a quitter?

“If you're 50 years old or younger, give every book about 50 pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give it up.

If you're over 50, which is when time gets shorter, subtract your age from 100 - the result is the number of pages you should read before deciding whether or not to quit. If you're 100 or over you get to judge the book by its cover, despite the dangers in doing so.” 
― Nancy Pearl

This just made me laugh. I've been a person who finished every book I started (same used to go for movies). Why? Maybe all those years of Catholic school. Maybe because somewhere I got the message that if I was going to start something I had to finish it. See it through. No matter what. Not doing so made one a quitter. And there were not much worse things you could be, except maybe a serial killer.

This all started to change a couple of years ago, when I realized that there was no parent/teacher/nun standing by with a red pen and ruler just waiting for me to quit. I am not the target audience for all books, and certainly all books are not masterpieces, so what was the holdup? I tentatively started not finishing a book. I created a Did Not Finish category on my Goodreads page to keep track of them, and for those interested, I've logged 38 DNFs since 2010. I've lost the guilt and given myself permission to quit. I still read too many "bad" (by which I mean not for me) books through to the end, but I've gotten better. I often give a book 50 or 100 pages to see if I'll commit, and I was quite proud of myself the other day when I quit a book 12 pages in. 12 pages! I've come a long way baby.

Life really is too short for bad books. Are you a quitter too?

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