Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hello, My Name Is...

How do you approach a book when you see it for the first time?   Whether it is in the bookstore, library, or on someone else's shelf, do you have a standard way for finding out what that new book is all about?

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?

1 comment:

  1. That is very interesting! Both what was said in that book and your method, too. I'm pretty laid-back, I guess. If a cover catches my eye, I'll take a peek at the back (or inside flaps) to read the synopsis. If it sounds good, I go for it. I NEVER read any portion of a book until I'm ready to read the whole thing.


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