reading habits

The RIGHT Way to Read a Novel

Dear Editor…

I can’t be in the room with my husband when he starts a new book. He reads the last chapter first. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. It’s wrong! I’m a writer, so I know the author worked hard to lay out the story as she or he did. You should start the story where the author started it, right? Right!?

Slowly Going Crazy in Carlsbad

Dear Slowly Going Crazy in Carlsbad…

Arguments over the correct way to squeeze the toothpaste are the cliché reason for divorce. You may have hit on the real reason. My husband reads the last page first, and, yeah, it’s hard to watch. He says: 1) he wants to know where the story’s going, 2) he wants to know what happens in case he dies, and 3) gosh, what’s the big deal?, it’s not the climax of the book. I’ll let When Harry Met Sally field #2. But 1 and 3 send me back to something my tenth grade English teacher said: enjoyment of a story is not defined by a surprise ending. There’s still much unknown adventure in store for your husband, and he will savor the language, the relationships, the tension and conflict and emotions that build to the climax. As a storyteller, you can appreciate that. If not, keep looking away. This is just a detail—don’t try to change the love of your life. Just buy your own tube of toothpaste and squeeze it however the hell you want and let the man enjoy his book.

Happy reading!
The Editor