Many first-time reads involve glossing over details or misunderstanding significant bits. An online community of avid readers reveal ten times they completely missed the point or humorously misunderstood the narration.
Table of Contents
1. Torch Torture
The difference between British and American English became pronounced when one Canadian user worried that Harry Potter read his textbooks at the Dursleys under his blanket with a torch. “I wondered how he didn’t light the bed on fire.”
For those who don’t know, flashlights are called torches in the UK.
2. Horned Horror: To Toot or Not to Toot
When Boromir is introduced in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s mentioned he has a horn. A member glossed over this a bit, and instead of a funnel to make noise, they thought Boromir was describing a horn on his head, “like a unicorn!” They only realized their error toward the end. “Literal headcanon,” another member remarks.
3. Punting Perils
When many non-Brits read in Harry Potter about Filch punting the kids across the swamp, it’s safe to say they thought of kicking! As one reader explains, “I thought Filch was kicking kids across the swamp because I didn’t have any other reference for ‘punting’ outside football. It seemed completely in character for him, too, so I never questioned it!”
4. From Ashley to Ashes
When one member read Gone With The Wind in middle school, they did not realize that Ashley was a male character. They somehow assumed the two lovers to be an odd couple in this “…checks notes…confederate book.”
5. No Expectations
A commenter recalls reading Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations at 14. They thought Pip should be with Estella. When they heard there was another, different ending than the one they read, they hoped it would bring the two characters together.
“Reread at 38 and now know both endings, and I understand they do not belong together at all.”
6. Crushed Crushes
When one reader initially got into Percy Jackson as a young person, they missed all the signs. “I didn’t realize until I was older that Percy was supposed to have a crush on Annabeth in the first couple of books as well,” they confess. Talk about not getting a hint.
7. From Cobalt to Kobold
When reading the Shannara series, a member encountered a character with a cobalt blue tattoo on their face. Due to their ADHD and dyslexia, they read it as the character “being a blue kobold as in, they were a little blue lizard dog man.” They also wholly missed every sign that the books are in “a real-world far future post-apocalypse setting.”
8. Unconventional Conventions
Reading Dostoyevsky is challenging, and the Russian communication patterns don’t make things easier. A commenter recalls not understanding Russian naming conventions.
They were halfway through the book before realizing that “a character had two different names and wasn’t two different characters.”
9. Unseen Red Flags
On the Road by Jack Kerouac has a section where the narrator is sleeping with a single mother, promising her many things and trying to find a way to take her back home.
When they parted, he hit up his aunt for money to return home and never talked about the woman and her son again. A reader missed out on this bit when reading at 16. When they re-read it at 26, it made them realize what a horrible person the narrator was.
10. Surname vs Last Name
While reading Harry Potter as a kid, a user did not completely understand the idea of calling people only by surnames. It didn’t help that where they’re from, the phrase “last name” was used more commonly.
For a while, they didn’t even know what a surname meant. “I could not comprehend that the students, Crabbe and Goyle, also had fathers referred to as Crabbe and Goyle.”
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This thread inspired this post.
I’m John Schmoll, a former stockbroker, MBA-grad, published finance writer, and founder of Frugal Rules.
As a veteran of the financial services industry, I’ve worked as a mutual fund administrator, banker, and stockbroker and was Series 7 and 63-licensed, but I left all that behind in 2012 to help people learn how to manage their money.
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