Monday, November 21, 2011

READING A BOOK BACKWORDS





How do you read a book? From the beginning to the end? I have one friend, who may be reading this post, who does it like that. Every time.  Maybe most of you do it that way, too. Fair dues.

But some of us do it a different way. Some of us read a book backwards, forwards, in the middle and then back to front and back again.

I tend to read a novel from the front to the back until I want to know something - an event that has been foreshadowed, or even how it ends - so I can relax and enjoy the ride.

I hasten to say I rarely read the last few pages in a whodunit, but I have been known to search out names in the last quarter to see if anyone is missing - and then I'll know not to count on them living to the end.

Sometimes peeking makes me wonder if I want to keep reading a particular book, especially when I find out the main characters will, in fact, let me down - usually by letting themselves down or because the author is following a trend I don't like. I would never allow a hero to die!

Sometimes I read a big chunk in the traditional way and then I flip forward until I find out if the section I am reading resolves itself a particular way. People, I find, who read front to back are quite appalled and tell me that I am not doing what the author expects of me. But hey! I'm an author. And I am in and out of my book, and forward, and backward, and inside out and outside in all the time I'm writing  - and the end is still often a surprise to me!

My answer to these naysayers who claim I am not doing the right thing reading a book backwards is this. Once I've bought a book it is mine - and I can read it any way I want!

I can't be the only one who does this. Can I?

7 comments:

Deniz Bevan said...

I don't like admitting it but sometimes I skip ahead too, just to make sure someone hasn't died or made a big mistake... When Diana Gabaldon's books come out, I have to read with the forward pages held shut with a huge paper clip, just to stop myself from ruining it all.

Margaret said...

I am now going to look up Diana Gabaldon, Deniz!
Finally, someone who admits they do something similar to me. I also look at the end of a rented or recorded movie at times - just to release the tension of not knowing how it is going to end. Then I can relax and see how the director works his/her way to the end.

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, you're going to lose the next few weeks of your life! Diana Gabaldon's books are life changing.

karynmadam said...

Okay, now I have to seek Diana Gabaldon out, too... But I must admit that my CDO (as my daughter says: OCD but in the RIGHT order!) demands that I NEVER skip ahead... hard as that may be...

Margaret said...

Karyn: I like your daughter's assessment of CDO. :-) I had a compulsion when I was younger - if I started a book I HAD to finish it. As I got older and life got shorter, that definitely changed. I don't hesitate to put a book down now and move on. I suspect this is why I read so many favourites over and over again. I know I'll love them. And THOSE, I read from front to back.

Andrea Spalding said...

In a tense novel I have been known to sneak a peak at the last few pages, to see if my favourite character's name is there. Then i can relax and enjoy the book knowing no matter how tough it gets my favourite person will survive!

Margaret said...

Andrea: That is exactly what I have been known to do as well. Maybe it's a particular type of personality who does this. I know there are people who are utterly appalled at the idea of "peeking" at the end of a book. I bet they never peeked in their Mom's Christmas cupboard either. :-D