The Harvard System of Indicative Literary Progress Nomenclature: A How-To Guide

We all read books. It is a fact of life, along with chickens, supermarkets and soy. However, perhaps unfortunately, we are for the most part incapable of absorbing the entire contents of any given book at one time, or even in one sitting. Therefore, there are many times in our life when we are reading a book, but have not yet finished the book. How then, do we communicate this fact, as well as giving an accurate assessment of our progress without resorting to abstract mathematica?

For example:

Questioner: "So have you started that book I gave you?"
Reader: "Yes, I'm sort of getting through it."
Questioner: "What, half-way?"
Reader: "More like a bit less than that but a bit more than just started."
Questioner: "So kinda a quarter through but closer to a third?"
Reader: "Well I'm 167 pages in."
Questioner: "What does that tell me?"
Reader: "Well it's 167 pages out of 682."
Questioner: "Is that more or less than half-way?"
Reader: "It's exactly 167/682 through, or 24.4868%."
Questioner: "Que?"

As you can see, this kind of thoughtless and overt ambiguity can lead to disastrous consequences. So, some sort of mutually equitable solution needs to be obtained. Therefore I present for your approval the Harvard System of Indicative Literary Progress Nomenclature, or HSILPN. This involves dividing a book into universally applicable sections, and naming them appopriately such that even the, most lay of laymen can easily comprehend.

The system is as follows -

  • If you have read less than one eighth but more than one sixteenth of the total prose length, (excluding title and publisher information pages, indicies, acknowledgements, introductions, dramatis personae, resource lists, explicative abbreviation summaries, prefixes, tables of contents, dedications, glossaries, afterwords, notes and other sundries), then you can be said to have "Just Started" your book. For most literature (excluding collections of novelia, essays, lists, etc.) this definition will place you squarely in centre of the introductory statements, chapters, paragraphs, or ramblings. These sections can often be confusing in isolation, but hold fast. In most cases any confusion will be later alleviated by further reading. Extreme scenarios may require additional post-completion re-examination to fully absorb subtleties and minutia of message, plot, or meaning.*
  • If you have read more than one eighth but less than three fifths of said book section, then you are officially "Part-Way" through your literature. Please do not confuse this with the highly ambiguous statement "Part of the way" as this will lead to unnecessary heating of the brain. By the time you have reached this section, you will hopefully be leading into the crux of the plot/message/rambling. If you feel that this is not the case, please contact your appropriate publishing monitoring agency.
  • If the extent of your reading is entirely contained within the middle fifth of the book, that is between the end of the second fifth and the start of the fourth fifth, then the official classification for this state is known as "Mid-Way". This is an important level of book reading to have attained. Despite possible slow starts and lengthy characterization, you are most likely into the thick of it, coming to an understanding of the conflicts present and resolutions necessary, and ready to tackle the final stretch.
  • If you have moved beyond the third fifth of reading, and are thus contained in the final two fifths of the book, excluding the final eighth of course, then you are "Most Of The Way" through your literature. You are well and truly hooked by this stage. Except in unusual and extreme cases, you will be hard pressed to cease your literature absorbtion by this point, being thouroughly engrossed in the intricacies of happenings, explanations, listings, etc. This is often regarded as being the point of no return. By the time you are here, you are not getting out. You're in for the long haul. Stick with it, and you will be well rewarded.
  • If you have read the first seven eighths of your book, and are thusly entirely contained within the final eighth (excluding the final sixteenth) of your book, then you are fairly considered to be "Nearly Finished." It is at this point that several matters of import must be raised. Often books of great skill and daring will lead us down a path of total commitment - forgoing food, sleep, work, ablutions and social interaction for the cause of immediate and total literary absorbtion. When you find yourself at the "Nearly Finished" sector, it is important to have a quick break and assess your situation. How long since you last ate? How long since you last slept? How long since you last saw and or conversed with another living human? Please note that although these are entirely subjective measures, if any two of these indicators are equal to more than one (1) day, then this is cause for alarm. In all other cases, should you feel that these indicators are well within reasonably limits, then continue - you are on the home straight.

This completes your comprehensive guide to unambiguous literary progress indication and explication. If you have any issues or queries regarding this guide, please hesitate to contact me.

*Any reading of less than one sixteenth is said to be "Piddling" and is not covered in this guide.

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