Closing the book on spoiler-free September

My verdict: Never again.

There is this one episode of Doctor Who where the Doctor is standing around waiting for a monster to show up, and he says “Is this how time normally passes? Reeeeally slowly, in the right order?” and if you substitute “books” for “time” (and “pass” for “passes”, to retain proper grammar), that is exactly how I felt throughout the month of September. Except more depressed. I think part of the reason I have been lax about writing up reviews is that my reading was so dreary and depressing compared to normally, I couldn’t face writing reviews.

I want y’all to know, you readers of books in the proper order, that I gave this the old college try. I gave it, like, the old grad school try. I put effort into enjoying reading books this way. When I was reading a book, and I started wanting to flip to the end, I assured myself that it was exciting not to know what was coming. Exciting! Not terrible! Exciting! But set against that is the fact that I have been reading the ends of books since I was eight years old, and old habits die hard even in flexible, adaptable, calm people, let alone in neurotic routine-obsessed personalities like me. In this case, my old habits – and, if I may say so, the obvious superiority of my usual reading method – won out over my attempts to brainwash myself into enjoying books as they usually pass: very slowly and in the right order.

Here is an analogy: Reading the end before you read the middle is a little like doing the edge pieces of a puzzle first. It organizes the book into a general shape, and you spend the rest of your reading time filling in the picture in the middle. And when a middle piece connects to an edge piece, you have this extra little thrill of seeing everything come together: Aha, so this is why Character A won’t speak to Character B in the final chapter; or, ho, ho, I see what the author is doing here with this foreshadowing. It focuses your attention because you know what you’re looking for: If Character C ends up betraying everyone, you get to have the fun of reading wickedness into all the things s/he says throughout the book. You can decide if the author’s being too heavy-handed with it, or using too light a touch, or striking the perfect balance. It is fun!

Why I will never try a project like this ever again. During the month of September, I found that reading books in the correct order is exactly like reading them in the wrong order, except that it makes reading slightly less fun and awesome. I wasn’t unable to enjoy books (the month of September was a pretty good reading month for me, actually), but the experience of reading wasn’t as joyful. I am now back to my old ways and I shall never deviate from them again because they are better. I strongly suspect that society has been brainwashed out of reading the fun way.

Waking up on October 1st was amazing. I grabbed Tooth and Claw and The Little Friend, which were the two fiction books lying on my bed, and I read the hell out of the ends of them both. It was like I had been locked out of my house in a rain storm for hours and hours, and someone had finally come home and let me in.