Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bookish Pet Peeve #2: White Space

I've come up with my second Bookish Pet Peeve.  It's related to the way that books manage the space between chapters.  This is what I like -- a chapter ends on one page and the next chapter begins on the following page, whether it be on the left or right hand side of the book.
What I don't like is either
a) when they finish a chapter on the right hand page but then insist on starting the next chapter on the right, leaving an entire white page in between ...
b) when they don't leave any space at all and begin the new chapter on the same page with just a tiny gap between them.

Neither of these situations are satisfying to me as a reader.  One makes me feel like they are and trying to make the book seem longer than it really is and the other makes me feel like the book is one never-ending blob of text.  I like enough space to take a breath but not enough to write another few paragraphs into the story.

Is this something you have thought about?  Do you have an opinion on white space between chapters?

Sweating the small things,


  1. I actually like when a new chapter always starts on a right page. New chapters starting on a left page drive me batty. I agree, though, that it's a problem when there's no space between chapters at all.

    As far as white space, I think my biggest pet peeve in books is when the margins are too small, crowded, like they're trying to produce this book as cheaply as possible. Uck!

  2. I've never thought about it specifically but, now that you mention it, I really don't care for wasted pages. I don't mind a chapter starting on either left or right (perhaps because I'm left-handed?) - though it doesn't bother me if the beginning of a new chapter shares a page with the end of the old one. I agree with the above comment about margins too - both when too much and too little space is involved!

  3. I have to agree with wordlily: I like all the chapters starting on the right hand page, regardless of whatever blank page is left.

    Though, I must agree with you. I absolutely hate (b).

  4. Hmm. I suppose I've never really given this one much thought before, but I would have to say that I don't really like it when new chapter starts on the same page. My least favorite thing would have to be what Wordlily noted about words going almost to the edge of all the pages so when you hold the book, your thumb ends up smudging the text!

  5. Check out Jenna Bush's book Ana's Story for white space nightmare. The margins are WAY too big and it drove me crazy! I did like the book though.

  6. Well, I don't know if I ever thought about this before. I do think they should end on one page and pick right up on the next page ... unless there is some kind of "Section Break" or something. But now that I think about it, I guess I have read lots of books where they just flow together. I guess I don't have an opinion about it one way or another.

    Now talk about tiny font size and lines too close together and I can bitch for hours!

  7. I don't like chapters starting on the same page as the one before finished, but I don't mind them with the white page in between.

  8. I hate it when they start the new chapter on the same page! That's not a chapter break, it's a mid-chapter section break! I cannot use a section break to decide it's time to stop reading and go to sleep. Hrmph.

    I don't mind as much having a white page in between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, but I'm not crazy about that either. They should save that for really serious things, like a title page for Part 2.

  9. I like chapters to begin on the right side of the page. The white space does not bother me in the least :)

  10. Wordlily - The funny thing is that I used to like that but now it bothers me for some reason. And I totally forgot about margins but I really don't like when I can't hold a book without covering words with my thumbs.

    Rob - I'm also left-handed so that's an interesting theory!

    J - Yeah. We need a clear chapter break for that sense of accomplishment or something.

    Bookshelf Monstrosity - And the books where they make tiny margins always do have that cheap ink that smudges, right?

    HC - I had the same thing recently with Susan Hill's novella The Man in the Picture. If the margins weren't massive, it probably could have been half the length.

    Jenners - Ahh, you're so easy going! ;) Doesn't it just make your heart sink when you open a new book and it has a tiny font?

    Aarti - That seems to be the most common pairing here in the comments -- okay with white pages but not with no white space at all.

    Jennysbooks - Exactly! Sometimes you are tricked into continuing because you don't even notice the chapter end.

    Diane - Good to know! I love all the variety of tastes on this one.

  11. I agree, but then again, I also dislike it when a chapter starts on the same page the previously one ended it ends at the top and the next one starts at the bottom. It doesn't give it a real finished feel.

  12. J.T. - It's funny how the little things affect the reader even though we should really be focusing on the text, right?

  13. LOL!!! This totally cracks me up!! I am bothered by the extra page. I get annoyed by the waste of paper. But, I'm not all bothered by the chapter immediately following the other.

  14. Tif - Totally ... it's a waste of paper!