feeding the buzzards


waiting outside my window

It doesn’t bother me not to finish a book.  I have so many I want to read, not to mention reread. And if I don’t like a book, I want it out of the house.  The faster, the better.  Toss–feed the buzzards. 

One exception:  If it is a universally accepted great book, sometimes I’ll put it away for a while, to try again later.  And sometimes, especially if someone whose choice in books I usually like has recommended the book, I’ll skim, thinking maybe something will catch my eye

I don’t personally have a set number of pages I must read before I can feed the buzzards.  But in case you’re looking for a rule, there’s librarian Nancy Pearl’s famous Rule of 50 : “If you still don’t like a book after slogging through the first 50 pages, set it aside. If you’re more than 50 years old, subtract your age from 100 and only grant it that many pages.” (actually found this in Wikipedia!)

I think sometimes it’s a question of mood.  If I’m overwhelmed by life, I often don’t have the patience for a slow book.  Out the window.

Sometimes it’s a question of writing.  I remember going to see Message in a Bottle years ago and loving the movie.  I went straight from the theater to the book store on the theory that the book would be even better than the movie.  Standing in line to pay for the book, I began to read.  Thank goodness for the line.  Before I got to the register, I had ducked out to return the book to the shelf.

By the way, I do try to make a note that I didn’t like a particular book, so I won’t accidentally buy it again.

Approaching this subject from the other side, we had a reader comment two weeks ago that she fed the buzzards 50 pages from the end of a book! 

3 pages, 20, 50–do you have a rule?

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6 thoughts on “feeding the buzzards

    • Katherine, surely I responded two years ago and my comment has just disappeared….I do hate to give up on a book. Sometimes I think it’s just my mood, and I put it back in my stack to try again later.


  1. How long do I stick with a book I’m not enjoying? Until my bedside table is full or it’s so dusty I can’t read the title – whichever comes first. Now that I’m “older”, I don’t feel guilty about it either!


    • Likewise, Pam, I can’t believe I didn’t respond to your great comment! So sorry. I try not to feel any guilt. If the writing is nothing special, I certainly don’t feel any. But if the writing is good, I feel a little like I’m letting the writer down…


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