When do you stop reading a book?

I like rules, but sometimes I forget them. How many pages of a book do you read before you give up on it? I thought the rule was: Halve the number of pages in the book, subtract your age and there you have it. Surely I am wrong.

Botswana Time, by Will Randall is 274 pages long and I am 59 so using the above calculation I can stop after 78 pages, if I am still not enjoying it. I wish I was a lot older!

I love The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. These quirky stories are set in Botswana and I can’t get enough of them.  ‘Wonderful, amusing and affirmative,” is McCall Smith’s comment on the cover of Randall’s book. I needed no more encouragement to buy it from the local second hand shop. I was filled with anticipation and hope for a good read.

The 6 pages of the prologue held my attention and I was thanking Alexander for his recommendation. Pages 7 to 50 caused me to struggle and resist the temptation to close this book. When would the ‘wonderful, amusing and affirmative’ that McCall Smith promised appear? I read on and hoped knowing that if I wasn’t grabbed by page 78, I would call it a  day.

By page 78, I was still disappointed. Randell spent too much time telling me about Africa, rather than showing it to me. He had opportunities to appeal to my senses but I was left feeling cheated. He used abstract words instead of concrete ones and  I was left to put my own interpretation on beauty, rather then see it in his rich description. I hungered to hear his words and expressions rather than old cliches.

But I’ve closed too many books lately, so continued to read, savoring the best parts and learning from the rest. I think I will read it to the end.

What are your expectations of a book and when do you close it forever?


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