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:
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.