Something that happens to me often is that I'll look at a book in a shop, or read about a book online and I'll think, "Hey, this looks interesting." I'll read the cover copy or a review or a publisher's facebook post and get a certain idea of what the book is going to be, how I think it's written and what the tone will be and I'll think, "Yeah, this looks like something I'd enjoy." You know, the regular process of buying a book.
So then I take my new book home and open it to the first page and read the first chapter or so and I realize that the book in my hand is not the book I was imagining in the shop. I'm reading a different book than the one I thought I was buying. For this reason, the first chapter or so of every book I read is a sort of negotiation between me and the author, a breaking-in period of sorts.
Sometimes the book I'm reading is amazing and so much better than whatever I'd imagined I'd be reading, and that's a cool experience. I love it when a writer's imagination outstrips my own. Sometimes the book I'm reading is nowhere as cool as the book I thought I'd purchased, and of course that sucks. Usually I'll finish reading those books anyway and grumble about them to Mighty Reader and anyone else who'll listen to me.
Possibly what I'm getting at is the idea that cover copy and reviews of books don't really give a good picture of what the actual reading experience will be like. Which means, maybe, that I'd do just as well picking up books randomly from the bookstore shelves. I don't know; I'm much better at observing phenomena than I am at drawing conclusions. That's why I make art, not politics or anything practical.
Anyway, I wonder if I'm alone in this habit? Does anyone else sort of build a strong mental picture of what the book they're about to read is about, only to find that picture proved wrong by the actual book? Or do you pretty much know what you're getting into and I'm just babbling here?