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February 07, 2009

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I couldn't agree more. If I know the ending then I won't bother reading the book. It isn't that everything before the ending is unimportant but I do like to be surprised when I get there.

This is my pet hate as well, but I get over being insulted by the publishers - who, nine times out of ten, feel the need to tell you about the writing style, what influenced it, everything you're about to read and what it means - by skipping all introductions. I never read them now. Or the introduction on the introduction on the subject of the person writing the introduction and how qualified he or she is. And they say the first page is crucial in snaring the reader!

I have noticed now that many new editions of 'classics' do contain a spoiler warning.

You should expand this series out into bizarre things readers do.

I ahve had two partners now who both read the final page before starting teh book - why? My wife will skp ahead to check if a character is still alive! Both of these behaviours strike me as madness and in direct contravention of the sacred code of readers!

I always read the "Introduction" after I have read the book. They never make a lot of sense in the abstract and I find I get a lot more out of them (and the book) if I read them afterwards.

Something that niggles me is when lengths are gone to in order to try and hide the fact that the book is a translation. I vaguely remember reading a book where the only hint was a translation credit on the copyright page.

It should be mandatory that the cover should proudly proclaim 'Translated from the [language] by [translator]'. I don't know, for example, if my copy of Yuri Rytkheu's 'A Dream In Polar Fog' was translated from Russian or his native Chukchi.

One of my pet peeves is the author's photograph on back cover or flap. I wonder why that is important at all. The author has written a book and that is all there is to it. Does it matter how he or she looks? A related peeve is the modern disease of book reading. I hate it when something as solitary as writing and reading is turned into a performance art.

I have to admit, I don't really get book readings myself, but I find that's easily addressed by not attending them.

Definitely agree on the introductions point, I actually like a good introduction - one that tells me something about the author's life, issues of the day which might have influenced the novel, things I might not know that might cast light upon it. I just read Good Morning, Midnight, which has a spectacular introduction in the Penguin Classics edition by AL Kennedy.

If you have to discuss the ending though, and I doubt significantly that you do, it would be preferable then to have it in an endnote section. It is slightly irksome to be reading an introduction to something you've not previously read, Hard Times say, and have the whole werewolf subplot ruined before you get to it.

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