Katie MacAlister

I received a metric butt-ton of books for Christmas, most of which were from me (I am highly self-indulgent when it comes to books at Christmas), and some from family members. And this is a good thing, because one can never have too many books. I arranged all of my new books on a bookshelf next to my bed, and have happily been slowly working my way down the shelf, savoring each one, and enjoying greatly the wide variety of subjects covered by the books. For the curious, they included a Mary Stewart (Moonspinners), an Elizabeth Daly mystery (Murder in the Second Volume), a book of micro-pictures of sand, several books on the history of England and London (two of my favorite subjects), the second set of Griffin and Sabine trilogy (I had NO idea there was a second trilogy), the latest Wondermark book, two poetry books, and two books on code-breaking during WWII. Yes, I have eclectic reading tastes. We know this.

Before I fell asleep last night, I finished the Daly mystery, and pulled out at random a collage-story book to read (i.e., a book that was made up of collaged pages, throughout which a story was scattered–it was created to look like you’d picked up someone’s journal and were snooping into her life), but didn’t actually start it. I also didn’t closely look at the cover; I just tucked it into bed next to me, and promptly fell asleep.

Fast forward to about 4am, when I woke up. It was too early to get up and start the day, but look! There was a pretty collage book sitting right there on the bed next to me. What better thing is there than a few illicit hours spent reading with no distractions (and while snuggled comfy-warm in bed)? So I happily dove into the book, and an hour later (it was a collage book, remember, so not a lot of reading to be done) I was bolt upright in the bed, and staring in horror at the book. Somehow, I’d missed the subtitle on the cover that said it was the journal of the short life and mysterious death of the journaler. Now, clearly, that tells you right off the bat that SOMETHING BAD is going to happen to the narrator, and most people would have noticed that.

But not me. Not at 4am. Nooo, I got sucked into the tale of this journaling woman, and then whammo! Death, just like it said on the cover.

And this, my dumplings, is why I am no longer allowed to pick up a book in the middle of the night and start reading it. Now I have a rule: I must start a book when I have my wits about me and can notice things like BIG LETTERS ON THE COVER OF THE BOOK.

This does, however, lead me to a question: have you ever picked up a book and been unhappy with how it turned out? Not unhappy with the book on the whole (we’ve all read books that haven’t met our expectations), but more, you’re expecting a happy ending, and it just doesn’t happen? I won’t ask for a show of hands of people who, like me, totally missed something on the cover of the book that warns you things aren’t going to be warm and fuzzy at the end, but I am curious to know how many people were sucked into a book only to be disturbed by the ending.

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