I’ve followed the Booker Prize for about 10 years, and this year I will make my goal of reading all the winners. To do so, I need to read the 2010 winner and 9 others. When I first posted about my 2010 goals I wrote, “it’s going to be more difficult to achieve because 1) I’ve been putting off some of the books that I think I won’t like, and 2) some of the older titles are hard to find. Still, it will be fun trying …” Well, let’s talk about point #1.
This month I read two Booker Prize winners, and both were disappointing. One of them — G, by John Berger — was one of those I didn’t think I’d like. And I was right about that. I only made it through 50 pages (read my review of G). The other Booker winner I attempted this month was Ben Okri’s The Famished Road. The book description and the jacket flap sounded so promising. But alas, it’s written in the magical realism style, which I really dislike. Once again, I set this aside before finishing (read my review of The Famished Road).
But I’m still counting these towards my goal. In the world of reading goals and challenges, there are no hard and fast rules. To quote Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50:
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.
If I make a reasonable effort to read a book, I’ll count it as “read.” For books I don’t finish, my “pages read” count reflects only the number of pages actually read, not the entire book. That’s fair, right?
So it’s been a mediocre month for my Booker Prize reading, but April is looking better. I expect to complete Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy by reading The Ghost Road. I also plan to read Stanley Middleton’s 1974 winner, Holiday. Fingers crossed for better Booker reading!
How do you decide whether to finish a book or throw it at the wall?
Do you “count” books you don’t finish?
Read more from The Sunday Salon here.