Glorious Side Effects

I compiled a list of books I’ve read in this way earlier today.

It’s occurred to me that the effect of this reading technique is that you can respond to the book as yourself, with no preconceptions, being as surprised by events as the characters themselve. You can empathise, you can work out what’s going on, jump to the same wrong conclusions and kick yourself later or  feel smug when you get it right.

Like life, you can anticipate but you don’t know what’s going to happen.  If you’re good at life you might be right more than you are wrong and therefore don’t go around upsetting too many people or having your goals thwarted.  But in reading you are in an alien world, one that is controlled by the unknown author, who defines the rules.  Foreknowledge helps you to know some of the rules (thriller = danger to life, good v evil) but Blissfully Ignorant Reading pretty much starts from a blank list.  You can’t entirely escape some of the rules, they are inherent in reading/writing, for example, the author tells you things because they are important, you subconciously suspect that they are telling you about the neighbour never putting out the bins because it will be important later.  A bit like the red uniformed minor character in Star Trek!

A glorious side effect of this reading style is that you don’t have to know anything about the book afterwards apart from what you felt and thought.  You don’t need to find out about the author, reviews etc.  And when people ask you about authors, genres etc you can explain the technique and still look them in the eye in stead of feeling like you should have done your homework.  This works particularly well with English graduates.  So you just read what you like, respond naturally too it, take away whatever stays with you, and don’t worry about your intellectual prowess, it’s still as impressive as it ever was.

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