I commented a few times while I was reading The Italian about how long it was taking me and how difficult it was for me to get through. Should I have kept reading it or given it up? I'll admit that I rarely abandon a book before I am done. I think the biggest reason is that I am always hopeful it will get better. And what if it does get better and I missed it because I gave up too soon?
I recently checked out Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason from the library. In the introduction author Nancy Pearl said this: "One of my strongest-held beliefs is that no one should ever finish a book that they're not enjoying, no matter how popular or well reviewed the book is. 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."
Pearl then goes on the explain what she calls her rule of fifty. "If you are fifty years old or younger, give every book about fifty pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give up." If you are over 50 Pearl suggests that you subtract your age from 100 to get the number of pages you should read before making a decision. The idea is that time is short and we should not be wasting our precious reading time on books we are not enjoying.
I thought that was a very interesting concept. I would have stopped reading the Italian if I had to decide by page 50 but then I also would have stopped ready Jane Eyre by page 50 as well.
I don't know if I'll follow this rule but it is something I will keep in mind next time I encounter a book that I am not enjoying.