“the Talmud only makes sense to the reader who has already read it; a first reading of the Talmud only happens during its second reading”
The Talmud is not a book to be read, but a book to do things with – not a book to think about but a book to think with; and beginning to read the Talmud in the middle of a middle tractate is indeed as normal a practice as beginning to read the Talmud from the beginning. For the Talmud is a series of interdependent narratives and no matter where the reader starts they are always in the middle of something. Like poetry, the Talmud only makes sense to the reader who has already read it; a first reading of the Talmud only happens during its second reading.
Zvi Septimus, “Revisiting the Fat Rabbis”, in Talmudic Transgressions: Engaging the Work of Daniel Boyarin, eds. Charlotte Fonrobert, Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Aharon Shemesh and Moulie Vidas (Leiden, The etherlands: Brill, 2017), 422.