Nancy Pearl, Real Action Hero

Moving on to pleasanter topics: Nancy Pearl, one of my three favorite librarians, has an interview in the New York Times: A Librarian Is Making a Big Noise. Great bit at the end:

Confronted with a wealth of books, Ms. Pearl has invented a now-famous tool to cope with the onslaught: the Rule of 50.

“Nobody should ever have to finish a book they’re not thoroughly enjoying, but you need to give the book a chance,” she explained. “It seems to me that a good amount of pages would be 50. At the end of 50 pages, you ask, ‘Am I really liking this book, or am I just gutting it out?’ This rule worked well for me for many years, until I started to get closer to 50 years old myself. I realized that time was short, and that the world of books is larger than ever.”

So Ms. Pearl, who is now 58, came up with this ingenious calculus of reading: “Now I have an amended Rule of 50: If you’re 50 years of age and under, you follow the original rule. But if you’re over 50, you subtract your age from 100, and that number is the number of pages you have to read. A psychiatrist — not one I was seeing, a stranger — told me, with a straight face, that this is the greatest gift I have given to humanity.”

Of course, it helps that she has an action figure modeled after her, with a built in shushing action.