One of my best friends, Alisa, gave me a book to read called “Beautiful Ruins” by a man named Jess Alberts. The book is a 2012 “Notable Book of the Year” according to The New York Times, and was an NYT bestseller and notable book of the year according to 11 other publications. National Public Radio said it was the best novel of the year.
I got 50 pages into it, and it was boring. The characters annoyed me. There was a sad Italian guy and this annoying chick from Los Angeles. UUUgggh.
In the past, I would have talked myself into finishing the book. I would have beaten myself up for not liking what the critics deemed so good, or I would have doubted that I was “getting it.” I’d think, “Just finish it, you might not get it until the end.”
I would be succumbing to the sunk cost fallacy. The argument goes something like this: I’ve already invested some time in this book, I should finish it.
And be miserable?
Not anymore. I have a new philosophy: Quit while you’re behind.
The other day, I was listening to Gretchen Rubin and her sister on their podcast “Happier” (they are amazing, like the female versions of Click and Clack of Car Talk!), and they recommended that you’d be happier if you stopped reading books you didn’t like. One of the commenters suggested a 50-page rule.
That’s it, authors. You get 50 pages.
I love this rule. It makes me wonder what other great rules I can come up with that would make my life easier. 20 minutes for phonecalls. 20 minutes for that terrible Redbox pick. 60 minutes at the gym. 30 minute student appointments. Aaaah. Loving it.
And, going forward, I am going to quit pretending to kind of like things that I think I should like that I just don’t like: Politics. Brad Pitt. Manicures. Riding a bicycle to work. Sashimi. Kale. Jazz. High heels. Green tea.
I mean, how many cups of green tea do I need to drink to admit that it tastes like grass and hay in a cup? Please. I’ve had enough of that. It’s never going to taste better.
So, my friends, what are you going to quit reading? What are you going to quit pretending to like?
Sayonara, jazz! Adios, Brad Pitt! and Arrivaderci, Beautiful Ruins!
Give it 50 pages. Give it a set amount of time. Then, step off that sinking ship and don’t ever look back.