Booking Through Thursday: Not a Flapper

January 14, 2010 at 9:46 am | Posted in Book Blather | 6 Comments

Here is my response to this week’s Booking Through Thursday.

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

I used to, but I quit a couple of years ago and I’ll never go back.

When I was younger, I would read every speck of print – the jacket copy, the table of contents, and the index, much less the contents of the book.  It never occurred to me to do otherwise.

Then one day in book group a friend of mine said she never reads the book jacket.  I laughed.  I didn’t really believe her.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it, though, and as I would read jacket copy I started to notice all the things I didn’t like about it.

First, there are usually killer spoilers.  Second, the jacket copy is typically nothing like the writing style you’ll find within the book.  It can even be egregiously bad.  Third, if you include the back, it will often include reviews of a different book by the author, which may tell you worse than nothing about the book you’re preparing to read.

Now I will sometimes read the inner flap for nonfiction.  I religiously read the author profile because I’m obsessed with author photos.  Maybe about 10% of the time I’ll read the inner flap of a fiction work, but only after I’ve finished the book.  I think it’s more stylish to leave the inner flap blank, or – better – include nothing but a photograph of the author.  When I read, the photo will get referred to over and over again, as I try to guess what expression the author had while writing that particular part.

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