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Finishing a book

The number of pages in a book sets up certain expectations in the reader. I notice this most frequently when the book ends well before the number of pages runs out. My expectations about plot and argument flow are tied to how many pages I think are left in a book. This means that conclusions may seem unexpectedly hasty when the book finished early, whether by 10 or 50 pages.

Those extra pages in a book may be index; bibliography; afterwards; a sample chapter of the sequel; a sample chapter of an unrelated book; a collection of short stories or essays related to the book; advertisements for other books; forms to fill out to request catalogs from publishers. There are all sorts of reasons for having non-main-sections at the end of a book. I'm more likely to expect them in non-fiction, but not always as much as there is.

And it still usually trips me up. I was expecting there to be more story/plot/argument.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC)
And thus, I've developed a habit of putting a post-it or bookmark on the last page/conclusion, so that I know how much longer I have to go. (I find it useful, at least, in judging how much more time it'll take to read.)
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:51 am (UTC)
i also find those extra pages annoying for the same reason
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
Ooooh - this has been a great food-for-thought post. Thank you! I've never consciously thought about this before, but I know that I do always look ahead to find the last page - not to read it, but to know the number of pages left.

So yes, subconsciously it must bother me, too!
Feb. 1st, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
I do that as well. I always want to know where the end is, especially if it's a scholarly book, where the end might be way before the last page.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )