Sunday, February 25, 2007

First Chapter, Next Book

Just finished Stuart MacBride's crime novel, "Dying Light". The kind of book that you read way too fast because it's so good you can't stop turning the pages. Then you get to the end and you hate the fact that you read it so fast because now it's over, there is no more, and it was only his second book so you can't go back and read the other 12 you missed...
MacBride does for Aberdeen what James Lee Burke does for the area around New Orleans. Yes, I've said this before but it does bear saying again. MacBride's books don't seem to be freely available in the bookshops here in Australia, but they're five stars in my little reading world.
That whole thing of wanting more as soon as the last page is read is what leads publishers (I think) to inserting what must be the most infuriating thing in publicity history. The first chapter of the next book. This usually only turns up in paperbacks, because the author is about to publish said next book in hardback, and this enticement is supposed to make you go out and buy the hardback in a fit of reader passion.
Not here, where hardcovers retail at $45. All that happens is if you give in to tempation and read that darned chapter, it gets you nowhere. Except in the waiting zone for many, many months while you wait for the paperback to appear.
In my case, this is what really happens. Months later, I see the paperback in the shop, pick it up and read the first few pages (having forgotten about that pesky publicity chapter). I think ... Hmmm, this sounds really familiar. I think I've read this one. And I don't buy it.
Before you go thinking I'm entering early senility, everyone I know has this problem. I think everyone who reads a lot has this problem. That's why when you get a book out of the library, you see all these funny little marks in it. Page 72 circled, a tick on the top of the title page, tiny initials inside the cover - this is the avid reader's coded signal to themselves to say "I've read this one already". If you don't believe me, check it out next time you're in the library.
The excessive version of this is someone I met at a garage (yard) sale once who was buying romances. She had a little notebook in which she had written the series and number of every romance she'd ever read (apparently they are numbered, or they used to be).
How do you keep track of which books in a series you've read?
Postscript: Just checked out MacBride's website and he had posted this: "COLD GRANITE has been voted the best first novel published in the US 2005!"

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