Monday, April 25, 2011

Why I Hate Introductions

I confess: I hate introductions - hate, not dislike - really hate them. I also hate prologues, prefaces, and epilogues - pretty much anything that comes between the first and last chapter. Maybe it's because I was raised on reading books like the Bible or Little Golden Books that needed no preface! Maybe it's because sometimes it informs you of unnecessary information! Maybe it's because some books have an introduction, introduction to the second edition, author's preface, preface to the second edition, and prologue, complete with epilogue, end notes, bibliography, index, and guide to astrology! I don't know.

Recently, I found an introduction that was actually useful, and this is one redeeming introduction that I can hold up as beneficial. So here is what I would list as a good introduction: 1) Five pages or less. 2) Gives a brief summary of the book. 3) Does not bore me out of my mind. Thankfully, the introduction to D. Michael Henderson's book on discipleship "One Conversation at a Time." meets these qualifications, and it's three pages in length!

Also, what is with these people that list nouns as chapter titles? Are you that unintelligent? Here are two examples from actual books: Robert Coleman's "Master Plan of Evangelism," lists its table of contents as: 1) Selection 2) Assocation 3) Consecration 4) Impartation 5) Demonstration 6) Delegation 7) Supervision 8) Reproduction. But wait, there's more! Jesse Rice's "The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community" lists its table of contents as: 1) Connection 2) Revolution 3) Dispensation 4) Illumination 5) Adaptation 6) Regeneration. Are you kidding me? Could you get any more vague and unhelpful?

I recently read a 618 page version of Count of Monte Cristo, (Not Crisco) and flagrantly did not read the 19 page introduction. No thanks. I don't need that much historical background to understand what is going on in the book's plot. Frankly, the prologue in Sheldon Vanauken's "A Severe Mercy" was labeled - "I. Prologue: Glenmerle Revisited" - that horrible little Roman numeral! Chapter 2 is actually chapter 1! Oh, the humanities! And after reading the fourteen page prologue where he reminisces at the bridge, I realized that I could have really skipped it. But, no, I was deceived into thinking it was actually a part of the book!

Frankly, if the introduction was labeled "Chapter 1" I might read it. Otherwise, my hatred continues...

"And well you see, I the prologue." -Jane Powell in Two Weeks with Love