Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Literary Blog Hop: To Supplement or Not to Supplement

Literary Blog Hop

Welcome to my contribution to the Literary Blog Hop, hosted by The Blue Bookcase. Be sure to check out everyone else's answers over at the link-up post. Here's this month's question:

Do you like to supplement your reading with outside sources, like Sparknotes, academic articles, or other bloggers' reviews? Why or why not? 

It depends. C'mon - you didn't think I'd answer with a simple yes or no, did you?

If I'm reading a classic, or a particularly difficult piece of literature, I will sometimes look at outside sources. However, I don't like to look at much before starting to read. I'd rather go in with a relatively blank slate and draw my own conclusions about what I'm reading. Then I might go back and read criticism or reviews  or whatnot.

I'm remembering when I read The House of Mirth for my book club. The edition I purchased had a ton of supplementary material. I read some bits out of the introduction just to get an idea of the world I was about to enter, but as soon as it started getting too detailed or spoiler-y, I stopped. I read the book, and then went back and read some of the supplementary text.

Recently, I've read two books were I was very happy to have an explanatory afterward. One was The Pathseeker. The other was Billiards at Half-Past Nine, by Heinrich Böll (of which I still haven't written a review. I should get on that, like, stat). In the case of The Pathseeker, it served to clear up some questions. In Billiards, it served to open up a whole other take on the novel, which was pretty exciting.

Generally, I find that I'm most interested in reading supplementary material when I liked the book and want to find out more about it, or when I have question that I'd like to have answered. 


Jillian said...

I find I'm most interested in reading the supplementary material when I disliked the book. :-) You know what I hate? Spoilers in the Introduction, with no warning!

MJ said...

@Jillian How funny - I guess I figure if I didn't like a book, I don't want to spend any more time thinking about it. And I totally agree about spoilers in the Introduction. I read them very carefully, and usually only about halfway through.