I have a confession to make.
I always sneak a peek to see how a book ends when I’m midway through.
It’s usually somewhere around a hundred or two hundred pages in (depending on the total length of the novel). At that point, I simply can’t seem to sate curiosity fast enough. I get greedy for the denouement and I need to know the next twist right now.
I especially find myself doing this with popular fiction – The Time Traveler’s wife (his feet freeze off and he can no longer run), The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay (Joe is gay), The Great Gatsby (Gatsby is framed and murdered).
Ann Patchett saved me the trouble in Bel Canto – there’s the spoiler on page 13 “It was the unspoken belief of everyone… that they were all as good as dead, when in fact it was the terrorists who would not survive the ordeal.”
For me – finding out the ending doesn’t spoil the book – rushing through it does.
Rush is the enemy of Savor. Rushing will ruin a good book. It’s hard to savor a work of fiction if you’re worried about the prospect of the protagonist’s relationship, or life. It’s hard to savor anything if you just can’t wait to find out what happens next.
I don’t want to be surprised – I want to enjoy what I’m reading. I want to soak in the words, and savor the commas. Yes, the commas. Trying to figure out the main plot can lead me to ignore subtleties, wordplay, and the bittersweet sting of romantic rejection which usually comes in the form of ellipses.
Of course, there are also books where the action is slow, intentionally so. When I truly want to savor a book – I pick up one of those and I slow down and feel, taste, and see the imagery of the author. These are vacation reads, but not beach reads. There aren’t any cliff hangers at the end of the each chapter.
Here are my three recommendations for “slow-reads.”
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
What’s on your list of summer reads? What books do you really savor?