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> Methods of Avoiding Spoilers

Methods of Avoiding Spoilers

My favorite method of avoiding spoilers is to go in with absolutely no knowledge about the work. This is especially true of movies it is just a wonderful feeling to be watching a film and have absolutely no idea where it's going. (If you can manage to see Being John Malkovich this way, you're in for a real treat.)

Of course, there's a problem with this method: if you don't know anything about a work, how can you choose it over all the other options that are available? The answer, of course, is that you get recommendations from other people, preferably from ones known to have similar likes and dislikes.

With books, avoiding spoilers can be difficult, because books have to act as their own advertising; it's as if theaters had to show a preview of a movie before playing the very same movie. Once, when giving my sister a book with a particularly heinous spoiler on the back, I came up with the idea of taping a piece of paper over the back cover. I highly recommend this approach!

Even if it doesn't interest you as a practical matter, I recommend it as a learning experience: I found it very disturbing to hold in my hands a book with the back cover taped up. With the summary and the professional opinions removed, I no longer knew what to think what was the book about? Was it good or bad? All I had to rely on were the author's words and my own judgement, and I felt a strong urge to tear off the cover and restore the normal order of things. As I said, a disturbing experience, but a healthy one too, I think.

A more extreme approach would be to remove the covers and the front matter entirely, but I haven't tried that, at least not yet. The virtue of using tape is that it is reversible.


  See Also

  List of Principles
  On Spoilers
  Works by Egan, Categorized
  Works by Wolfe, Categorized

@ March (2000)
  December (2000)