You know how when you go to a museum you now get that cool high-tech stick to press against your ear as you look at a painting and hear—often in a Euro-sounding, rarefied accent—the historical importance of that particular work and the struggles the artist went through to paint it? The information educates you, yes, but it also takes the joy out of looking at something and going, "Gosh...that's pretty." The same applies to the flaps on a hardback book. Those brisk, intelligent descriptions tend to give you an idea of what will happen. Take the recent literary thriller Absolution
. This is a slightly confusing book at the beginning because it's narrated by several different people speaking during several different time periods. The delight of reading it is puzzling out who is speaking, when and why. As illuminating as jacket copy can be, we can forgo it in favor of page one, where the story reveals itself, slowly and with all the delightful disorientation of any real beginning—in books and everywhere else.
Next: 9 lessons from the fictional women we've always wanted to be