RBT: A Space Oddity

Okay, I admit it. I’m definitely odd in some respects. Barbara commented on one of them last night, and threatened to post about it, so I’d better get my side of the story in first.

You know those novels that have italicized sections, often at the beginning of a chapter, but sometimes in the body of the chapter? I never read the italic sections. Never. And I haven’t done for at least 30 years. I remember reading Niven’s and Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer back in 1979, and I remember skipping the italicized sections even then.

The only italicized text I’ll read is short sections like a book title or a foreign word or phrase. If the italicized part is longer than a phrase, I just skip it.

I was reading a mystery novel last night that Barbara had just finished reading. I commented about how much I disliked italics, and she pointed out that if I skipped them I’d be missing important parts of the story. I told her, smugly, that I’d already figured out who the killer was when I was less than halfway through the book, and without reading the italics.

4 thoughts on “RBT: A Space Oddity”

  1. What I find interesting is that you described it without any attempt to explain it, much less justify it. I take it you categorize it with other factors that just are, like your shoe size or eye color.

  2. Interesting. I skip poetry; I’m as like not to finish something as force myself to read poetry interspersed with prose. No idea why, so I couldn’t explain it if I wished.

    I’m not allergic to italics, although I wish they were used less often and that the writers who insist on using them (and their editors and proof readers, for the quaint publishers who retain either) would be more accurate about where they’re supposed to start and finish.

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