does nancy pearl’s rule of 50 apply to book groups?

as the sole librarian representative on our city council book group i was quite embarrassed to rock up to our book club meeting yesterday and say i hadn’t read the designated book (the bell by iris murdoch). we were given 6 weeks to read it, but every time i started it i got bored and couldnt continue. 

(super librarian) nancy pearl developed the rule of fifty, which I have quoted below. i don’t know if it applies to book groups though, where there is perhaps an obligation on the member to struggle through the book so s/he may  contribute to the discussion?  if everyone said ‘the book sucked so i couldnt read it’ it could make book group talk difficult.

“Believe me, nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren’t enjoying but think they ought to read. I live by what I call ‘the rule of fifty,’ which acknowledges that time is short and the world of books is immense. If you’re fifty years old or younger, give every book about fifty pages before you decide to commit yourself 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 deciding.”

our next book is ‘the nanny diaries’ (chick lit).  we didnt have a choice in the title. the one male member of the group demanded a brown paper cover for when he read this on the tram.



Filed under books, library

3 responses to “does nancy pearl’s rule of 50 apply to book groups?

  1. Gemma

    Yep the rule of 50 applies. Heaps of people in my bookgroup never bother to finish the book. So far so good for me (though I still have 150 pages to slog through tonight for tommorrow morning…) You can’t help it if a book is crap or if it just isn’t the “right time in your life” (LOL) to read!

  2. I think the rule should be modified a bit for book groups. I try to make it either 1/3 or 1/2 of the way through if it is for my book club, depending on how bad it is.

  3. the rule could be that you need to get enough into the story to be able to articulate to the group why, in your opinion, it was just not possible to finish. depends on how fast the plot, characterisation moves? gemma i hope you got through those 150 pages.

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