Booking Through Thursday: To flap or not to flap

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

Since I suggested the question, I suppose I have somewhat of an obligation to answer it.

I probably should have been more clear but I’m referring to the flaps on the dust jackets of books. And, as a general rule, I do not read them. I may skim or scan the first paragraph or so in a book I see on the library or bookstore shelves if I’ve never heard of it. That, though, is to just get a general sense of the subject.

If I know I’m going to buy or have a book, I do not read the dust jacket flaps, with the possible exception of the author bio that usually appears at the end of the back inside flap. Particularly with novels, I’ve too often found the descriptions or summaries on the flaps tend to give away information or plot developments I much prefer to discover by reading the book. And it need not be something significant. Regardless of whether it happens on page 2 or page 500, I don’t want to know ahead of time that Character A is going to die. It has not been uncommon for me to read a dust jacket flap after completing the book and being glad I didn’t know something discussed there.

As far as I’m concerned, the flaps are there just to keep the dust jacket in place. Otherwise, they may hamper my imagination of what a particular character will do as the story develops or where the author intends to take the story or a plot line.

I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.

Duane Michals, Real Dreams

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