Do you buy novels without reading the first few pages first?

Leaving aside books you are reviewing, reading for a class, or that you promised a trusted friend or relative you would read: do you not always read the beginning to make sure you don’t hate it right from the jump?

If anyone does this, help me understand why. The strong reviews or interesting dust jacket premise are enough? Are you fairly well off? Will you read it all the way through even if the first few pages do turn out to not be to your taste?

I do. Sometimes I even buy novels which I’m sure will produce the intense need to throw them against the wall, because the gender and the blurb in the jacket are already giving me itchy hands.

But hey, vocabulary; I do that to increase it in second languages. For example, one genre that tends to give me the upchuks is romance, and it’s a genre which involves both some words or usages I want to know so I can avoid them, and a lot of daily use words I’d be unlikely to find in a fantasy or science fiction book.

And then there’s the ones by authors I’ve consistently enjoyed. I’ve read several things by an author and liked all of them, I’m going to buy the next one I see without more than a check to make sure it’s not an omnibus edition or somesuch.

So you can avoid them?

For the first book by an author, usually yes. That’s how I came by the Expanse books, the Dresden Files books, Charles Stross and China Miéville. After that, I trust an my previous experience of an author.

It’s my experience that some books take more than a few pages. Some only hit their stride halfway through.

Can avoid what? The romances? I’m reasonably sure I’ve never been forcefully assaulted by one, but I’m not sure I understand your question.

I just wanted to thank you for an entertaining mental picture.
As for the OP, I usually just read the back cover and maybe skim the first page.

The first time I read the first page is when I read the book. Knowing the genre, possibly reading a review, word of mouth, and any previous experience with the author or authors the author has been compared to are enough for me.

Me neither! :wink:

I was just curious what you meant by that.

… oooooh. So I can avoid using those words, which may be false friends or sound/look very similar to words which are OK to use; and, if I have to use another word whose pronunciation is similar to one I want to avoid, I know I have to be careful. If you don’t know that “excrement” sounds almost like “flat rectangular object”, you’re likely to ask people for “a pen and a shit of paper”.

Ah, ok.

A woman I knew from Cuba told me she learned to use the word “linens” after she asked a sales lady in a department store, “where are the sheets?” and was directed to the restroom.

Yes, I often buy novels without reading the first few pages first—especially if they’re from an author I already know I like, or if they’re a book I have other reasons to expect I’m going to like, and especially if I’m not risking too much money on them (e.g. a $1.99 special deal Kindle book, or a 50 cent used paperback).

In the other thread that this spun off from, you gave the parameters you judge fiction by:

You say nothing about plot, or characters, or themes, which are a big part of why most people read fiction, and it’s not always obvious how good those are going to be from the first few pages. And you seem to be more sensitive to writing style than many readers are. Personally, I find it a turn-on (reason to keep reading) if it’s particularly good and a turn-off (reason to give up on a book) if it’s particularly bad, but there’s a middle ground where it doesn’t do much for me one way or the other.

And if writing style is so important to you, why do you only apply this criterion to novels?

Who says it’s only for novels?

I think BTW that the #2 you quoted relates to plot.

I read that whole 1642 book because I thought the premise was so cool, and was pulled along by the plot, even though in literary terms it was SO amateur hour.

I never really thought about it but for some reason I never read the first pages. However, if I have no strong reason to believe that I will like the book, I often just flip it open and read a bit at random. Only a page, or less even. I can usually pick up whether the author’s style will offend me without revealing any important plot points.

Pasted from the other thread:

For the past nearly 20 years, I’ve bought very nearly everything I read on-line, knowing only the author, the genre, the Amazon “people who bought this also bought this”, or meatspace or on-line recommendations. Even when I was buying books at physical locations I used similar criteria. I don’t think that I have ever read the first few pages of a book before buying it.

All those romances, and not a single ripped bodice to show for it. Yeah, I’d be disappointed too.

I have never read any part of a book before I owned it (or otherwise possessed it). It has never occurred to me to do so. I judge the book by the cover, buy it, and bring it home.

I couldn’t even imagine doing that. You have to read it to know if you like it.

Sure, I’ve literally trashed books before I’ve finished them, but it takes more than half usually to be sure they actually do suck. You can’t punt at two pages.

Me too. I’ve got way too many books to add any more physical books.

Beyond books, ever since DVDs came out my way of seeing a new movie hasn’t been “previewing” it by watching it in the theater or renting it–I just buy the DVD if it looks like something I might like.