Stand Back! Carolyn Does Math!

NB: If you’re reading this in a feed, there’s a poll and I think you have to click through to the post to actually participate in the poll. Which I admit is a silly poll. But whatever. This is my blog.

I’ve been thinking about DNF books.

Specifically, I’m thinking of instituting a rule about how many eye rolls it takes before a book becomes a DNF (Did Not Finish). You know how you’re reading a book and you encounter something so stupid you roll your eyes? Everything’s cool until the hero stops in the middle of saving the free world to take a call from his broker and buy 15,000 shares of Amalgamated Wigets. I know. Total Eye Roll moment.

Here’s how it would work. A book becomes a DNF when some threshold number of eye rolls (X) is equal to 1 eye roll per some ratio of pages (NP) per the total number of pages in the book (TP).

We can’t set a constant value for the number of pages read per eye roll because that would not account for the variation in total pages across books. A shorter book should have fewer pages per eye roll than a longer one. That is to say, should a longer book have more allowable eye rolls because there are more pages? Or is there some set number of eye rolls allowed per book regardless of the number of pages?

How’s a poor reader to figure out when to abandon ship? Let’s do some math.

Suppose the value of X is not constant:

DNF where (TP/NP) >= X

Let’s plug in a few values and see what we get. Suppose TP= 324 and suppose we decide 1 eye roll per 20 pages is our threshold (therefore NP = 20) . We do the following calculation:

324/20 = 16.2

If X= 16.2 then for a book of 324 pages, 1 eye roll every 20 pages would be acceptable for a total of 16.2 eye rolls. That seems like a lot to me, but then I’m strict. You’d have to read with a pen and a note pad or something to keep track, but hey, it’s science and there’s record keeping involved.

What if our tolerance is lower? Suppose it’s 1 eye roll per 50 pages.
TP = 324
NP = 50

324/50 = 6.48

So, this would mean that the rule would allow a total of 6.48 eye rolls for the entire book. You could totally have that rule though. Before you start every book, you note the total number of pages, set a value for NP and derive your eye roll tolerance level.

But wait. This number seems high to me. Eye rolls are eye rolls, and there should be a limit no matter what. Personally, after my third eye roll, I’m thinking of throwing the book against the wall, regardless of its length.

So, let’s do that math. The formula’s a bit different this time since this time we must solve for NP:


TP = 324
X = 3

Ah. This would mean that for every 108 pages read in a book of 324 pages, we should encounter only 1 eye roll. If you get to page 150 and have already encountered 2 eye roll moments, then it’s time to give up. Probably. Unless the sex is really hot or you’re dying to know what happens to the heroine. Or something.

What if the book is only, say, 200 pages?

NP = ?


I know you’re all thinking, Holy Heck! This formula means a 200 page book is Satan! For me, yes. I’m thinking the value of X might be different for every person, so you’d have to figure out what number of pages equals your Satan book and then never ever read a book of that length. This is really handy!

I can perform this calculation and not only know exactly when I have reached my DNF point but avoid my Satan book.

And now (ta da!!!!) for the whole point of this post: testing to see if my polling widget thingee works:

ETA: Looks like the poll does not work at all. Darn. But click anyway. Or answer in the comments or something.
I fixed the poll! Yay!

What is your value of X?

View Results

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Or maybe I should never do math ever.

What do you think?


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6 Responses to “Stand Back! Carolyn Does Math!”

  1. King Rat says:

    Your poll does not work in the Chrome browser.

    I can handle up to 3 eye rolls if they are minor eye rolls. For instance, one book ended a dozen scenes with and then the group discussed the details long into the night. That was relatively minor.

    I can handle only one big eye roll. A second one gets a DNF. Here’s a classic 2nd major eye roll DNF review from me.

    I also have other reasons I’ll DNF a book too, besides eye rolls.

  2. Actually, it looks like the poll does not work in any browser. Rats. There was some question about the poll working in WordPress 3.0. Darn. Thanks for letting me know.

    “And then they discussed the details long into the night” I am totally going to end all my chapters that way.

    Plus, I checked out that review. That book went way over your eye roll threshold. And mine. Plus, I saw that you are reading Dark Lover. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think.

  3. angie says:

    Yeah mine didn’t work either.

    I can take a max of 3 eye rolls , I suppose.
    I’d really hate to have any, though, but doubt I’d put down the book and DNF it. I don’t know what’s worse, a DNF book, or one I read through completely and still decided I hated it.

  4. cjewel says:

    W00t!! I fixed the poll. Everyone can go take the poll now.

  5. Jami Gold says:

    I’d probably differentiate between big eye rolls and little eye rolls, but that math would be way too complicated for me. LOL!

  6. Steve says:

    3 eye rolls seems like a nice round number; the only way I would endure more would be if the book had some particularly gripping twist or butterfly inducing moments to balance the eye rolls. Other than that… 3’s good.