When I went to my library book discussion this month the leader asked if any of us were surprised by a certain plot point. He seemed surprised that none of us were until I volunteered that it was discussed in the summary on the back of the book. He said then that he never reads the summary, ever. Says it drives his wife crazy but he refuses to know what a book is about.
I’ve been thinking about my own weird book habits/fetishes.
1. I have a love/hate relationship with series of books. I hate starting the middle of a series. If I see a book that looks good and it is the fourth in a series about the same character I have to start at the beginning. If it is the 25th in the series I can’t read it because that is way too much to catch up on. But if I start at the beginning and I like the characters, then I like to read more about them. I think there should be a limit of 5 books in a series though.
2. I used to never be able to read books that were written more than 5 years ago that are set in the present. Little things in them were out of date and that would make me crazy. I recently read a book where the character was showing off his car phone like the ultimate status symbol. It would make me crazy. Books where the Soviets are evil were off limits too. But then I decided that I like historical fiction a lot so I decided that in my brain these books were now historical fiction about the 80s and 90s and now I can read them.
3. The first thing I look at when I sit down to start a book is the publication date. If I forget and start to read the first page I can’t settle in until I go back and check out the publication date. That may be related to number 2 some way. Whenever I look at the date I feel a little bit of pride and happiness that I learned in elementary school that the date is always on the back of the title page. Then I think that I’m bizarre to be proud of my elementary school knowledge.
4. I like books with maps of the places in the story. But if there is a map it should be detailed. I just read a travel book that talked about a lot of small towns and none of them were on the map. That’s worse than no map at all. I’m really in favor of an overview maps and then pages of more detailed maps. Geneologies can be good too but can zap some of the suspense if you know at a glance who everyone gets together with.
And my view on summaries? I read them to pick a book out but sometimes if I know the author and like all their other work I’ll try to read a new book without looking at the summary. It does add to the excitement but sometimes I just can’t handle the suspense.