I love Nancy Pearl’s Rule of Fifty when it comes to finishing books. You’ve heard of it, right? If you’re fifty years old or younger, give a book at least fifty pages before you decide to commit or give it up. If you’re over fifty, then subtract your age from 100 and use that number as the number of pages you give a book. I pretty much stick to this rule, with an exception for books chosen by my book group. I like to be able to discuss the books with my book group pals, so I give it every effort to finish.
Even so, I still feel a little guilty when I abandon a book. Probably something leftover from my childhood – the good student, good daughter, people-pleaser thing. I’ve gotten better at abandoning books over the years, as I get older and realize that, sadly, I can’t read ALL THE BOOKS.
The latest book I abandoned is something that I chose to fulfill one of the categories on Book Riot’s Read Harder reading challenge. (You can read about the challenge here.) I wanted to stretch myself in my reading this year and venture into new territory. I am not normally a Romance reader. I’ve read lots of novels with gripping love stories – Americanah by Adichie comes to mind as one I loved with an amazing love story – but Romance as a genre is tricky to me. The covers of the bodice-ripper types embarrass me. The titles of Harlequin novels I come across in the library make me laugh. I know that there are good, quality romances out there, but I honestly don’t know how to find them without wading through a lot of formulaic junk.
I don’t want to deride an entire genre based on its worst examples, though. There are some really awful, badly-written mysteries out there, yet I’m a lifelong mystery reader. I just don’t know where to begin with romance. So I’m working on finding the good stuff. I asked two co-workers for recommendations, and unfortunately, this latest abandoned book was one of the ones recommended to me.
Initially I was enjoying the book; it was light, kind of fun, different – sort of like watching a romantic comedy. Sadly, this book was no When Harry Met Sally. I grew tired of the heroine’s ridiculous tactics to get back her man (they’d broken up ten years before.) I made it all the way to page 222 before I said, “That’s it! I can’t take it anymore!” I actually said that out loud to my husband as I was reading in bed. He glanced at the cover and said, “That doesn’t look like something you’d read.”
So. Back to the romance drawing board. Since I didn’t properly finish the book I’m not going to count it for my Read Harder Challenge. I’m going to try one of the other books my co-workers recommended. I’d love some suggestions from you guys as well – whatcha got?