Who reads a book’s introduction? I ask you since I cannot bring myself to do the reading of an introduction, a preface or even a forward (I *might* read the forward if written by someone I admire who isn’t the book’s author). An afterword, prologue or epilogue–of course! But all that nonsense at the start feels only like work to get to the meat of the thing. Can we not just dive into the content, head first?
When did we start with the forward, introduction, and preface? Where is a librarian when one is most needed? Google provides no answers, and I’m frustrated. Perhaps if I understood the historical significance of such a thing I’d be more open to spending my time reading this neglected part of my books.
To neglect any part of a book seems sacrilegious. To confess, I often skip over lots of parts of poorly written books. Or books that are long-winded. Or are just boring as hell….
….but this is a digression. No one reads my blog. I don’t read introductions. Are words wasted when no one reads them? Now I’m getting philosophical. I’m highly unqualified for philosophical thought.
Do you wonder over the difference among the preface/introduction/forward trinity? Oh, does it even matter? Be honest, you aren’t reading the front matter anyway.
So, dear book writers and publishers. Please know more people don’t read your introductions than do. This is an educated guess. But since I recently read a post online which provides the template for the writing of an “attention-grabbing” forward, I can’t be far from wrong.
PS My apologies to anyone who either loves an introduction or has written one. I’m sure there is value to doing so or there wouldn’t be so damned many of them.
When I was a child my parents had the brilliant idea of taking my brother and I to the local bookshop after church each Sunday. We didn’t have a lot of cash, but what we did have my parents were willing to spend on a book each–no matter the cost. Once through the doors of our local independent bookshop, our family of four would disperse: Mom hid in fiction, Dad lost in Sci-Fi, brother on the hunt for books to make him laugh while I gorged on classical literature; These were the happiest days of my young life.
As I look back on these memories I am thankful to have been born into a family of readers. Books were everywhere in our house: the landing of our stairs, piled on bookshelves, and on the back of the toilet. Books arrived by mail via book clubs, passed amongst aunts and uncles with powerful endorsements, borrowed from our library. Once in our possession we’d retreat to our favorite reading spots. My parents favored their brown floral sofa, each tucked into their respective corners of the sofa, table lamps casting warmth onto pages, my brother at their feet. Me in the chair opposite, legs dangling over the arm while I chewed my hair. We didn’t often read together as a family, only when the mood struck us individually to collect ourselves and our books did we end up in the same room reading together.
Books have an incredible power to bring us together. Doesn’t matter what types of books you like to read. The mutual enjoyment of reading is a bridge-builder. When I sit beside someone reading a book on a train or plane I instantly feel a connection. Too often I ask what they are reading, would they recommend their book and why. In a way my curiosity is a form of Book Store Sunday, where there are never-ending possibilities for running away, growing empathy and understanding of the world.