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Photo: Ruven Afanador
With thousands of books landing in stores every year, it's all too easy to go with the flow and let group-think choose what you'll read and treasure next. But here's one thing about reading: It's very personal (at least if you're doing it right!). In other words, there are no rules beyond the ones you care to make—and choose to follow. With that in mind, we propose that you declare your independence from common wisdom, lore and the opinions of others, and that you hold as self-evident your right to:
1. Not finish a book, whether you've read to page 10, 50, or 250. (But if it's Ulysses, you get points just for getting past page 1.)

2. See the movie first—especially if you've heard the book is kind of lousy; the movie just has to be better.

3. Read two books at once—and occasionally get the plots mixed up.

4. Reread a childhood favorite. But be forewarned: Charlotte still dies.

5. Judge a book by its cover. Or its title. We defy you, for example, not to pick up Mary Roach's Bonk, which, um, scores on both counts.

6. Wish that Cormac McCarthy would use a little punctuation now and then.

7. Be miffed if your friend doesn't like a book you recommend. On the other hand, you have our permission to be miffed if she gets miffed when you don't like the one she recommends to you.

8. Ignore memoirs by people who have barely cracked their 30s.

9. Declare yourself unmoved by the existential struggles of vampires, zombies (even those in league with Jane Austen), talking dogs, or what we worry is the next trend: scary-smart monkeys.

10. Believe that books can be magic carpets to enchanted lands, even while realizing that they're inanimate objects made of ink and paper. (Unless they're e-books. And it's okay to love those, too.)

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