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When is it OK to Stop Reading?

The librarians who volunteer to stock the Staff Picks display sign up for a three-month rotation.  The first rotation will end on June 30th, and so with two weeks to go until four new display stockers start up, we get to hear from the last of the four librarians currently in charge of the Staff Picks display.

Barbara Cangiano is the Head of Circulation at Wallingford Public Library.  Not only does she know more than any of us ever will about the ins and outs of the circulation system (and the reasons behind those annoying delays in getting books from other libraries), she is, bar none, the best person to ask when you can't find an item that our catalog says is available.  Barbara knows all the tricks to suss out hidden material, and she loves to be of help. Barbara also loves to read, but  in this blog post she shares an interesting and useful perspective on what happens when she doesn't love the book she is currently reading:

I have been the Circulation Department Supervisor at the Wallingford Public Library for a little over two years.  I love being surrounded by wonderful book-loving people and tons and tons of books!

Once upon a time I used to finish every book that I started, but not anymore. Did I feel guilty about that? Yes. Did I hide that secret from family and friends and coworkers? You bet I did!

Until I read this about my hero, Nancy Pearl.

A former children's librarian in Tulsa and Seattle, Nancy Pearl gained national attention by giving book recommendations on NPR's Morning Edition and with her books, Book Lust and More Book Lust. "Reading is my job, so that's all I do. I read," she said. "I don't cook, I don't garden, I do nothing. But I only read the books I want to read, that I'm loving. So if I start a book and I don't like it, I immediately put it down."

"People are sometimes shocked at that," Pearl said. "But in fact, the book is always going to be there. You can always pick it up again and try it. There are several notable examples of books I didn't like on the first, or even on a second try or third try, that I ended up loving. Probably 70 to 80 percent of why we like a book or not is due to our mood."


Nancy has helped me get over my feelings of inadequacy when I stop reading a book. She has given me permission to move on guilt-free and not feel bad for authors who I gave up on or books that everyone loved but me. For the more "resistant to change" reader, she has even developed a rule of 50.

"People frequently ask me how many pages they should give a book before they give up on it. In response to that question, I came up with my "rule of 50," which is based on the shortness of time and the immensity of the world of books. If you're 50 years of age or younger, give a book 50 pages before you decide to commit to reading it or to give it up. If you're over 50, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100 -- the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit. Since that number gets smaller and smaller as we get older and older, our big reward is that when we turn 100, we can judge a book by its cover!"


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