Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Read the End first?

Sooo I'm curious. How many of you are spoil sports and read the end of a book first?

When I found out my daughter does this I was shocked. It seems like cheating and . . . well, why bother to read the whole book if you know how it ends? It seemed so foreign--I'd never even considered it. Then I began hearing more and more people who do it and it's not as uncommon as I'd thought, but I still don't really understand the rationale. Anybody out there that can explain it to me?
Geesh, do you hunt through the house and find out what all your Christmas presents are too?????


Ann said...

I've often read the end before I finished the book. Not every book... but most.

For me, reading has always been about the journey, not the destination.

There's great fun in seeing how the author gets to the end. I love it when the author drops little hints and foreshadowing in.

Besides, sometimes the endings don't actually make any sense until you get there, so reading them doesn't actually spoil much.

Theresa said...

Hi Ann,
Thanks for explaining. I guess I've always worried that if I know the end for SURE (even though I know a romance must have a happy ending) that the guy gets the girl, I won't take their struggles seriously 'cause I know they'll really work it out in the end. I guess that deep down I worry that if I confirm the ending, the highs and lows of the story won't be as believable for me.
Perhaps I'll have to try reading the end of the next book first.
But what compels you to read the end first? Why do it? Why some books and not the others? Do you skip to the end of movies too--or is that too much hassle?
I'm curious!

Donnell said...

Well, that just takes the fun out of reading. Talk to that girl! :) I have never ever read the end of a book first. Does that make me a "Not a Spoiled Sport?"

Audra Harders said...

Calm down, T. Sheesh. Let's not lump covert gift heists in with harmless page skipping. These two are DEFINITELY NOT in the same league!

Of course I skip around a book. If the pacing is too slow, I look ahead to see if there is any point to the drone I'm reading at the moment.

I also don't deal with suspense real well. If something is real gripping, I need to see if my favorite characters survive.

LOL! You can't just hand me a book with pages waving in the wind and NOT expect me to peek : )

Michelle V said...

NO! In fact, I often purposely don't even read the back of the book. I like to be totally surprised!

The Army Wife said...

No way. What's the point?? For me, personally, it ruins the whole thing. If you know how it's going to end, then by even bother reading the entire thing?

With that said, my husband reads the end of the book first, and will typically skip around the middle as well a few times before even starting at the beginning. Drives me crazy!!

Debra E Marvin said...

No no never! But I've glanced through and read a sentence or two in the middle before buying.

I agree that even the back cover blurb gives a lot away.

Unfortunately I think I'm often swayed by the cover, too. But what if the cover's prettier than the words inside?

Ann said...


I think part of it is wondering if the payoff at the end will be worth the pain (to the characters) in the middle. Or as reassurance that it will all be ok in the end. Or at least well enough.

I have been known to fast-forward through embarrassing (to the characters) scenes in moves and TV shows. Or run out of the room if I can't handle it. No idea why I get embarrassed for the characters so viscerally.

Heck, I'll slam a book closed and take a breather if the emotions are too much for me.

Strangely, I can put my characters though pain while writing (just ask KL) but revising those parts is super painful because I don't actually want to relive what I've done.

So maybe it's just the crazy way my brain in wired. Who knows?

The books I don't read the ends of are usually ones that have sucked me in so completely that I'm not really thinking "hey, I wonder how this turns out." I'm compelled to keep reading.

But I've never found that it took the fun out of reading... anymore than re-reading a book does.

Jennifer said...

Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I'm like Audra above. If the novel is suspenseful, I can't concentrate on what's happening until I know how the characters fare.

But I NEVER want to know what my Christmas presents are. Those kind of surprises I like!

Vince said...

Hi Teresa:

I don’t read the ending first myself but in doing research for a book on romance, I’ve observed a number of women who read the last chapter of romances at Wal-Mart. I’ve asked them why they did that and the consensus was that they wanted an obsolete guarantee it featured the ending they desired. This sample was about ten women.

These women support my theory that women read romances because they like the feelings they vicarious experience as they read the story. In order to get the ‘basket of feelings’ they want, I call them emotional vitamins, it is important that the book have the correct ending.

I also read romances for the on-going experiences I receive on a page by page basis. I particularly like ‘hidden child’ books and books where the hero provides a home and protection for a helpless widow and her two adorable children. I would think this theme would have a stronger appeal for the vicarious hero than the vicarious heroine.

I also think a reader can have a ‘craving’ for a given romance theme just like she can have a craving for chocolate or potato chips. Some times the craving for a given theme is so strong that I will put aside one romance and start another in a theme with the stronger craving.

With a romance you know you are guaranteed an HEA so the real enjoyment is in the page by page reading experience. Still I don’t think one should ‘step on’ the ending by reading it ahead of time -- even though these readers support my theory.


KL Grady said...

If I'm not sure I'm going to finish a book - the middle slump is so deep I can't even see sky, the characters are annoying me, the story is way predictable, etc. - I'll scan to the end to see if it's worth pressing on. If not, I at least can see how it ends. ;)

Otherwise, no. I don't read the end. I like to be surprised, and if there's a shocking switcheroo, I don't want to ruin it. I won't even read a book twice without external prodding (e.g. school) because I know how it ends already.

Theresa said...

Hi Guys,
Well you guys are full if interesting perspectives! Donnell, I'd never think of you as a spoil sport. Audra . . . me thinks you are a w-e-e bit too worried about the gift heist thing. You've snooped haven't you? I won't tell Gary.

Michelle, you like surprises that much--what a trusting soul. I totally get the army wife's POV that reading the ending spoils the book--though with romance it shouldn't 'cause you KNOW the guy has to get the girl or it wouldn't be a romance.

Debra, the back cover blurb does give away a good amount, but usually that's what I need to hook me. I'm a picky reader and won't read even my favorite authors if the back blurb doesn't catch me.

Ann, youch you are a sensitive soul. I've been known to cry or chuckle out loud while reading a story, but that's really so very, very rare for me. Rereading books? That's a blog topic on it's own--I don't enjoy that very often at all, yet my daughter--and Audra--will read books over and over and over again.

Jennifer, I think that must be a wonderful compliment to the author if you can't concentrate until you know how those characters fare.

Vince, seems you've run into a very distrusting group of women at Walmart--needing to read the back to be sure they aren't cheated of a happy ending. Emotional vitamins is a great term!

KL, you're more generous than I. If I hit that middle slump--I"m gonna put the book down. Ahhh a girl after my own heart! No reading books twice, no reading ending first! No wonder we're still friends after a dozen years--you think like me about a lot of things.

Leslie Ann said...

Nope never hunt for Christmas presents. But like KL every once in a great while, I'm head toward the back to see if it's worth it.

Mom reads the end first on everything, drives me crazy. Especially if it's not a romance...I want to be shocked by the ending of a "who dunnit."

To each their own. Peace, baby.

Mary Marvella said...

i never read the end first. i love to see a story unfold.

Wendy said...

I read for enjoyment and watching a favorite character die is not enjoyable. If I'm reading a new-to-me author and the hero's life is in serious danger, I do glance at the last page. There's already too much tragedy on Earth to let my heart get ripped from my chest by a fiction book.

That's the main reason I read romances - guaranteed Happily Ever After.

I even checked for survivors in last Harry Potter book, just to be sure...