I’m sorry I haven’t posted much original stuff thus far. I’ve been so busy working on my new novel and haven’t had time. Today I carved out an hour to do some housekeeping to the blog and post something that I was shocked to learn.
The other day I went to the bank. I tend to talk to anyone who will listen, and strike up conversations with total strangers. Normally, at least up in this part of the state– Upper Valley of New Hampshire– folks are generally very nice. The clerk at my bank is one of those people who I often have long conversations with about books, writing, and all things murder.
So, I was at the teller window having one of our usual conversations when she tells me her MO when choosing a new book. Instead of reading the back cover like most people tend to do, she reads the first page, the last page, and then starts reading the novel somewhere around page forty-sixty. Totally disregarding the first few chapters!
I was shocked by this!
The genre she enjoys is mystery, crime, thrillers, etc.– all of which are ruined if you read the last page first, in my opinion. I asked her why she does this. Her answer was just as stunning as her initial statement. She says, in order for her to “test” the book out to see if she wants to buy it she needs to read the ending.
I told her I doubted that the ending would even make sense without reading the story through. And I was correct. With a totally serious expression on her face she says it never makes sense. Thus concreting my argument that it shouldn’t be done.
However, while she’s reading, and nearing the end, suddenly that last page (that she read first) pops into her mind and she begins putting the pieces together. Who committed the crime and why. Why this happened or didn’t happen. And so on.
I had always kept her in the back of my mind as a possible test reader, which she said she’d be happy to do. But after that conversation– no way! I can’t trust her to read the entire novel.
Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous? The author worked hard to hook the reader, supply important background information, and in most cases, the trigger occurs within those initial pages. And many times, if she skips sixty pages, the crisis happens as well! I can only hope that she is not the norm. That readers are not skipping through their books randomly and not reading them the way they were meant to be read.
What are your thoughts?