Thursday, January 14, 2010
Hello, My Name Is...
I read How to Read Novels Like a Professor last year, (one of my least favorite books of the year,) and in it the author claimed that when people approach a book for the first time, they always turn to the first page and read the first sentence...they never turn directly to the middle of the book. When I read that, I was both amused and irritated because I don't know if I have ever turned directly to the first sentence when looking at a book for the first time. Certainly first sentences are important, and I enjoy comparing them, but that's not how I approach a book. I want to be a bit better acquainted with a book before I go reading its first sentence. Here's how I go about it:
I look at the cover: the title, the author, the art, the awards/comments; I look at the back cover: who reviewed it? does the summary hold my interest? anything else interesting? If it's a hardcover I'll look at the inside flaps for the same sort of information. Then I slowly fan through the book--backwards, mind you--to get a general idea of the book: font size, feel of the paper, density of words on a page, amount of dialog. I stop at random places while flipping to read a sentence or two; getting an idea of the writing style. By the time I've reached the front of the book again, and take another look at the front cover, I have a pretty good idea of whether I'm interested in reading it or not. I actually don't usually read the first sentence until I've purchased or borrowed the book and put in on my "To Be Read" or "Currently Reading" list.
I found out recently that this is almost exactly how my dad looks at a new book too. But then discovered that my older brother and mom do it very differently--but equally similar to each other. Time to approach my younger brother to see what he does! What do you do?