|"Self Portrait With Books," by Priscilla Warren Roberts.|
Though this could almost be a portrait of me.
The back and forth between book and Wikipedia made me realize just how often I do this. So, as I was pondering North and South and Gaskell's portrayal of the plight of the working class in the dark counties, I thought about why I find it so vital to know what to expect from a book. I've come to the conclusion that it's because I'm primarily a genre reader. I expect one thing from science fiction and something completely different from historical fiction. Which makes sense. These and all the other genres tend to stay within their boundaries. Really good fiction, classic fiction can transcend the boundaries. Brave writers break the rules all the time. But these are the exceptions.
Reading partial summaries and book jackets also helps me make sense of what authors are up to, as well. I've read a few books that opened with bewildering details and actions that made absolutely no sense until I learned that the the author was writing a thriller or a New Weird* story.
So, there it is. I cheat a bit. But I do my best to not spoil the ending for myself. The ending of a book is often a magical moment for me. I've had my mind blown by spectacular endings and warped endings and twisty endings. I've had my heart broken by tragic endings or overjoyed by happy endings. It just wouldn't have been the same if I'd known what was coming. If you try to tell me how something is going to end, I will probably wander off with my hands over my ears, singing, "La la la la!"
* Yes, it's a real genre. Books in the New Weird genre should come with a cheat sheet or drugs, just to help the reader along.