TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG: I Stand For My Evil Reading Habit

I’ve been a Connie Willis fan for years, and thought I’d read all her books. I was so wrong. She continues to write even when I’m not paying attention. (Blerpy face emoji here.) I just found her website and visited her blog, which made me giggle about 30 words in. And while searching for more books, I found about a dozen more in the last 10 years that I’d not even known about.

Her genre is science fiction, but honestly, they all read like a really great story-telling novel that has unusual elements added to get the conversation going.

When I traveled last week to the East Coast to visit my darlin’ daughter, her hubby, and their adorable wee new baby, I picked up a copy of her book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, to occupy my flight time. (You can use to find new or used copies.)

It’s about time travel, but in a way that focuses on love, relationships, and history. Not just “what happened” in history, but why things happened (or didn’t happen.) Tiny moments, mistakes, miscommunications, and big events like bad weather, war, bombing raids, invasions, etc. The history alone is so absorbing!

I thought I’d read it already, but I must have gone fast, or my ability to remember stuff accurately after 22 years is failing) because it was like I was reading it for the first time. First, because back in the day, I DID read stuff (e.g., ‘books’) fast. I wanted to find out how it ended, what happened, and see the mystery solved.

But that meant I skipped over important stuff that were actual clues to the ending. And so I started doing something soooooooo many people hate:

I either a) read spoilers, or b) read the ending as soon as I’ve read enough to know I’ll want to stay with the story.

I know, I know. I can hear the screams of rage from way over here.

But here’s why I do it:

I read the story more slowly. I pay attention to all the hints and clues about what is going to be very, very important at the end. I have a better understanding about what the author cares about, how they create a path to their ‘truth’, I’m more willing to ‘go deep’.

And I enjoy the book more.

In this case, I did both.

Remember when The Sixth Sense came out? How shattering the ending was, when we finally realize the main character is dead? (I’d put a “spoiler alert” in there, but I’m assuming that, over 20 years later, we all know how the movie turns out.)

Did you know that M. Night Shyamalan put so many clues and hints into the movie, he was afraid NO ONE would be surprised by the ending?

Did you, as I did, enjoy the movie even more when viewing it the second time, and finally seeing all the clues?

‘Nuff said. I don’t know if I’ve ever changed peoples’ opinions about spoilers, and don’t care. It’s simply how *I* roll.

What I love about all her books is, there is so much amazing information and insights in each one. In this book about time travel, history achieves a new depth of interest for me. All kinds of related stories are shared: How Germany tried to bribe Mexico into siding with it agains the United States in World War I. How small incidents have created major changes in history. Even the history of mystery-writing has a place in this novel, lending even more tangible clues to the ending. (I also found at least six actual phrases of “to say nothing of the dog”. Woot!)

And any book that is so good, I actually wish that 6-hour plane trip were longer, is a keeper. (Fortunately, I had a half-hour wait for the airporter bus, and a two-hour ride home. So I did finish it!)

So no world-changing thoughts today, except hoping you aren’t angry at me for my spoiler addiction. And that you are intrigued enough to read the book and deepen your understanding of world events for the past two or three thousand years. I was!

P.S. It also inspired me to order a lot more of her books. (Why are the newest ones so effin’ expensive????)

P.P.S. And I ordered a copy of the book Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome, published in 1889. (Time aligns with the time traveler’s travel.)

P.P.P.S And while getting the link to that book, I came across the movie Three Men In A Boat ! Guess what I want for Christmas?!


Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

13 thoughts on “TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG: I Stand For My Evil Reading Habit”

    1. This is my third attempt to reply to your comment, ACK!~! Short answer, YES, I love almost every book of hers I’ve read, like most authors, your mileage may vary. Some are sad (in Doomsday Book, the time traveler ends up at the onset of the Bubonic Plague YIKES, and in Passage, she writes about near-death experiences and tragic accidents throughout history.) But in all of them, she goes deep into historical details, and we fall in love with her characters. Bellwether is relatively short and she explores famous fads throughout history. I’m restocking my bookshelves with her work, and I’m baffled why her more recent books are selling for a small fortune online, but I will always love her and I will find a way to get to read those pricey ones, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Atta girl! I like Connie Willis too, and C. S. Friedman even more. And sometimes I go looking for spoilers, lol.
    I just took 2 books on snapping turtles out of the library, and one on Baba Yaga. Whaddya bet I end up “needing” to find my own copies of all 3…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always keen to learn of a new author, and I found a compendium in my local library I’ve just downloaded for me next read. I much prefer novels to short stories (I’m a rapid reader too, which is frustrating) but it will give me a chance to find out if I like her style. So thank you again, Luann. There’s no end to your usefulness !! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL at your last sentence, thank you!! (teehee) And let me know what you think, as I said, there’s a lot to unpack in her work. For one example, her book Passage (near-death experiences and famous disasters) takes place in a hospital complex that is extremely difficult to navigate. The narrator runs into dead-end hallways, elevators that don’t work, and constantly gets lost. As I read, I kept think, wtf why do I have to read this over and over?? But at the end, I realized it was a METAPHOR for what our brain does when we are in mortal danger/dying, and it’s integral to the story. The second time I read it was even more powerful.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Welp, I’ll boost Passage higher on my list then. I’ve read both Doomsday and ToSNotD, but they blur together in memory. I think my to reread list is getting pretty long! Used to be normal to reread books, now I count myself lucky to read at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL Lizzie, I feel the same way! FWIW, both of those are about time travel, but TSNOTG is much “lighter” (though the universe as we know it may be endangered), and Doomsday is sadder. Black Death, etc. If that helps?


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