View from the middle

My bookshelf


I live for the middle.

The beginning of a book, with its set-up and character introductions and attempts to land you in the action? Well, it’s necessary, certainly. But not my favorite thing.

And the end, with its explanations and wrap-up, unsolved questions or lackluster surprises? Its complications? That’s all right, but I usually wind up wishing I could un-read what I’ve read and return to the middle.

Because the middle of a story, oh . . . when I’ve invested enough energy and time to get to know these people and feel what they’re feeling so much that I can’t wait to return to their world, to hurry between chapters? That’s the magic time. When the road stretches far for both of us, off into a horizon even I can’t see, and anything at all could be possible . . . well, that is it.

That’s why I read.

Because I’m such a middle-lover, I tend to bounce quickly between books. I don’t want to spend too much time on set-up or character introductions. Those notorious info-dumps totally turn me off, and if I can’t wade into the novel immediately? I’m not interested.

I have a collection of books on my nightstand I’ve been trying to get through for months. I flit between them — fiction and non-fiction, young adult and literary. I usually have one of each type going at once, reintroducing myself to the story that holds my attention best at the end of each day, but . . . it does get confusing at times.

And sucky, too.

If I could skip all the introductory material in each book, I probably would. I like feeling settled into a story, when I know the principle players and can simply rejoin them on their adventures. I don’t like meeting someone new . . . but I must.

To get to the middle, I must start at the beginning.

And so it goes.


20 thoughts on “View from the middle

  1. Sometimes I enter our local book store not to buy anything or see new works. I just like to follow people when they choose a new book to read. Sometimes their faces are so hungry and inspiring, that they give me new ideas for writing! It’s awesome! And I’ve noticed that most of them are choosing by opening and reading some phrases or sentences in the middle. Well, where am I going? I do like that as well ;) Good thoughts, I really liked this post!

  2. I hate the set-up in a book. I always appreciate it later, but I do find it grueling to slog through all the detail. Funny because I don’t feel that way about movies, just books.

  3. That sadness when you get the end of a book or series you love so much. Even when you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve read it. I love books and love reading. But I rarely find one I can totally lose myself in the story.

  4. Beginnings of books do always give me a bit of anxiety…trying to figure out what is important and which names I should remember…but the middle? Perfect.

  5. You know what’s funny though? If you skipped all of the intro to the book, you might not love the middle so much. But I feel the same way. I give books 75 pages to hook me. . . a 75 page “beginning” and if I can get past that hump to the glorious middle, then I can keep reading.

  6. I love being in the ‘middle’ of a story so much, that when I get there I do everything I can to prolong the experience! Tactics include everything from rationing how many chapters I can in one sitting to making myself take a break to sip coffee before going back to reading. They usually never work, but I always tried nonetheless =)

  7. I’ve never thought of it like this before, but I’d have to agree. I’m not a huge fan of getting through the beginnings of books either, and get frustrated sometimes while trying to learn the characters and all that jazz.

    Great, intriguing post!

  8. Reading your blog has totally inspired me to put my phone down and pick up my Kindle more. Started a new book last night. So fun! Can’t wait for the middle, totally get what you mean. Have a great weekend Meg : )

  9. Sock Monkey! Hrmmmm. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about this before but I think I might be more of an ending gal. There are some many books that I love and adore that have socked me in the gut right at the end and made me love them ever more. I know…sounds totally crazy, huh? In fact, I could go an entire book disliking everything about it but if it has a great ending it’s totally redeemed. I DO agree about too much set-up, though. Just get on with it Author!

  10. And this is why I love blogs about books. We all having different things we love. See, I love a good beginning. The way an amazing writer can sweep you up into the story with only a couple of sentences, and capture your interest so completely that you suddenly find an hour has passed and you’re a third of the way into the book. Thank you for sharing your book passion!

  11. I couldn’t agree more. The Harry Potter series is perfect because there’s seven amazing books full of middle-ness. And The Stand by Stephen King has so much middle between those covers to keep a person satisfied for weeks. Yes, middles are the best, like an oatmeal cream cookie.

  12. I can absolutely empathize with you. I too, seem to have a similar disposition, and it is something I realized only after reading your post. Lovely reading! :)

  13. I thought I was the only one….I felt slightly ashamed that it took me a year to finally get past chapter 3 in Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. I picked it up, I put it down….(and repeat). I love the middle….the part that keeps you up until 2:30 AM, with your eyes all squinty. Middlers unite!

  14. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, which I know is weird! But it’s true! I mentioned this to my sister and she said she was the complete opposite – she LOVES the beginning of books and not knowing where something is going. Recently I rushed through the beginning of The Goldfinch, but that ended up being the best part. I want to go back and reread it because I know I missed amazing, beautiful things because I was so intent on feeling settled in the story.

  15. Oh wow, I was just thinking about this this past week. I have to say, like in an oreo, the middle is definitely the best part! I do enjoy introductions most of the time (though not as much as the middle), but conclusions very often bore me. They’re often too long, overexplaining everything and I just want to move to something else.

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