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Topic: Before You Begin Reading a Book by an Unfamiliar Author...

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Subject: Before You Begin Reading a Book by an Unfamiliar Author...
Date Posted: 1/27/2010 2:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Before you begin reading a book by a new-to-you author do you read the introduction (if there is one) or do any research about the author?  Or do you just dive right in?

I find it most helpful to know a bit about the author before reading his or her work. It often gives me a better sense of where this writer is coming from. I often find that the stories they write are at least somewhat autobiographical. Writers typically stick to what they know. Maybe that's an obvious observation...

Then again, many of the introductions are written by some really overly scholarly types that seem to be in love not with the author they're introducing, but with their own rambly prose. LOL.

I am rambling about this because I was reading the intro about Katherine Mansfield and the scholar went on and on and on about Mansfield's illness. Pages of how she died too young, too soon, how much more Mansfield could have written had she lived blah, blah, blah but she never said what caused the poor woman's death!

T.B. it turns out.

Date Posted: 1/27/2010 6:35 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I dive in first and get interested in the author as a person afterwards.  Same with musicians, directors  & actors.

Date Posted: 1/27/2010 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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I used to dive right into every book, never reading anything but the book itself.  Now, I find myself reading the back cover, the introduction, the author bio, a preface, the dedication, everything!  Then, after reading the book, I may even research the author more. 

Date Posted: 1/27/2010 9:51 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I always read any introductions, plus the info on the dust jacket, and usually the reviews here and on Shelfari because I'm on the websites all the time. (Not Amazon though; there are too many reviews, so it would take too long.)

I have, once or twice, been burned that way; I knew nothing about Jane Eyre going in; I read the introduction thinking I was going to get some analysis about the time Bronte lived in, what in her life informed the book; I ended up getting a friggin' plot synopsis! It was so lame. . . THAT kind of analysis I really wish they'd put in an afterword! But in general I prefer to read with some background information in my head about the author and his/her time.

Date Posted: 1/29/2010 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 4/21/2008
Posts: 664
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I like to read some about the author and the setting of the book before reading. When I was a child I tried to read Little Women and could not understand it. As an adult it made more sense once I knew the time frame and area it was set in.

Date Posted: 2/1/2010 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
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I usually just dive right in so I don't have any preconceived notions about what to expect from the author. If I end up liking the book ,and want to read more from that author, then I do some research.

Date Posted: 2/2/2010 5:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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It depends. I dislike introductions as a general rule, because I don't want to hear someone else's opinions about a book or author before I've formed my own. I do like to know some things, though--religious beliefs, for example.

Subject: please--not too much information!
Date Posted: 2/11/2010 8:37 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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I don't want to know too much about a book before I read it. I like surprises; I also like to figure things out for myself. When I'm done with a book, then I'll read the dust cover, etc.

I do, however, read introductions, since I figure those are legitimate parts of the book. If it seems, though, that too much is being revealed, I'll read the introduction afterwards.