Blind date with a book — a literary experiment

Just read it, she said.

Just read it, she said.

On a regular basis, someone will recommend a book or send a review in my direction. I ask what it’s about, they tell me. No spoilers required, just the basics. Then, depending on my reaction, I will either grab a copy, add the title to my book bucket list, or simply forget about it. Normal, right? Right. Only this time, things were a little different.

Walking in the woods with my good pal, Bev, we often discuss books. We are both avid readers who belong to different book clubs, but our tastes are not identical. Far from it. Nevertheless, I have read and hugely enjoyed several of Bev’s recommendations, and I’m inclined to believe that she would tell you the same about mine.

So when Bev said I should read a book called We are All Completely Beside Ourselves, I listened. Of course I’d totally forgotten the title by the time I got home, and normally when this happens — which it does with increasingly alarming regularity — I can google enough details to find the right book. But not this time. This time Bev had refused to give the slightest, tiniest bit of information. Nada. Zilch. Just go with it, she said. Don’t google the synopsis or check out the blurb, just read it. I texted her for the title.

I was intrigued. And while I was waiting for the book to arrive, it dawned on me that I have never read a single book completely blind before. The title gave nothing away and neither did the front cover, although I could be pretty sure that we weren’t talking historical romance or erotica here.

I decided to go all in and view this as an interesting literary experiment. Starting with carefully blu-tacking a piece of paper over the back blurb to prevent myself from inadvertently reading the reviews, which would undoubtedly have contained spoilers of sorts.

I began to read and it all felt very strange. I had no idea which way this was going to go. Would there be a murder? A vampire? Was it historical? Biographical?

I was on a blind date with a book. And I liked it.

Liked the novelty of not knowing. Like the adventure of turning those first few pages to see what time and setting we were in. Discovering the style of the writer and, gradually, the genre of the book. The premise, the theme.

As the story unfolded, it became clearer why Bev had refused me any information. This is a book best read without too much pre-knowledge, and I shall not be giving away any details here. Just read it.

But the whole process of reading blind per se was an interesting one. A little like unwrapping a gift hidden deep inside several outer layers of misleading boxes. It’s impossible to be totally sure of what’s inside its core until fully unwrapped.

It definitely added a new dimension to reading. A different thrill of excitement, a greater sense of curiosity.

Some questions I listed above were obviously answered during the read, but until I turned the last page — and I hadn’t dared look to see how many pages of additional info there were at the back lest I should read something of the actual story and spoil the process — I was never sure when the story would end or, judging by the number of pages left, how it could be expected to pan out.

But the real question is, of course, would I ever repeat the process?

Quite possibly.

And if anyone else is curious to try this, read We are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

Bev and I both highly recommend it.

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