On the nightstand: Zone One, Colson Whitehead, self-assigned as research into the zombie-lit phenomenon. Will definitely have to read more Whitehead soon, especially as he has a novel all about John Henry.

On the nightstand but bumped by the above: I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith. I miss Cassandra, but I’ll get back to her in a few days.

In the car: One of Our Tuesdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde, read by Emily Gray. My first foray into Fforde. Now I understand why other book-devouring friends rave about him. The Bookworld is such an obvious idea I can’t believe I never thought of it myself, and it’s so well executed that I’m starting to believe it’s real. Also, he’s very, very funny.

Daily: one Dickinson poem.

The four make an eclectic collection, even collision, of stimuli.

I was surprised to learn that a friend’s reason for not reading much fiction is that the end is usually predictable. It had never occurred to me that some people might read in order to find out what happens at the end. My desire to know how it all turns out can keep me turning the pages, but the real excitement comes from what happens along the way. And while that definitely feels like a “can’t stop, must find out what happens” impulse, “what happens” is most often about character, not plot per se. So Emma wouldn’t be less compelling if I knew who was going to marry whom in the end; the thrill of revelation is in all the intricate interplay of the characters, how a word placed here puts a weight there, how an encounter at point A presses on a lever at point B. I still don’t know how Austen does that, which is just one reason her writing never gets old.

But then, I also love to reread can’t-forget-who-dunnits like Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, just for the pleasure of watching how the magician does the trick.