June 7, 2017

the monster at the end of the book

It's been a while, but please join me in the trust circle as I reveal one of my deepest, darkest secrets...

I don't remember how it happened the first time. Actually, I don't even remember the first time I did it. But once upon a time, I picked up a new-to-me book and found myself flipping to the final pages for a little skim.

It always starts as a skim.

I just want to make sure everyone lives till the end. I hate when my favorites don't make it till the end.

Of course, I mostly read romance--and romantic comedies at that--so it's kind of rare for me to encounter a major bloodbath in a book. Still, even romances can have bad endings.

I'm just checking to make sure this ends well. I need to make sure there's a happily ever after--and that its a good one. 

When you have a to-be read pile that grows faster than you can keep up with--and you're a re-reader to boot--there's an added pressure to make sure you're in it to win it before you read a story. At least, that's one of the many other excuses I tell myself as I check the last couple of pages.

Still, the last couple pages alone don't do much. A few key words or phrases will pique my interest, and I'll find myself desperately needing the context. So I flip back a few more pages. Maybe just to the last chapter. By now, I'm not even skimming, I'm full-fledged reading. And I'm full of questions, so I find myself flipping through other pages. Again, it starts as a skim, but I end up reading full passages, even chapters, before I've really even started the story.

And, yes, while we're at it, I am one of those people who looks up spoilers for TV shows. I do remember the first time I did that. It was the last season of Gilmore Girls, and I felt like I had no ability to enjoy the show as long as I didn't know everything was going to work out (the way I wanted) in the end. Then came The Bachelor spoilers and Bones and Parks and Recreation and so on.

It's disgusting. I know. It's depraved. I get it. I've been told as much by teachers, friends, and fellow readers. "How can you spoil the ending of your story?" "As an author, how could you do that to another writer--ruin their story by reading the ending first?" "Why are you this way?" "What's wrong with you?"


The short answer: I don't know.

I really do hope I'm not destroying any other authors' lives out their by admitting that unless I'm listening to an audiobook, chances are better than not that I've at least read the final ten pages of their books before I've finished the first chapter. And I wish I knew why I did it. Because even with the explanations I've given, I can only think of a few cases where reading the ending put me off of picking up the whole book in general.

Maybe it's just a character quirk. Kind of like someone who always blows a kiss at yellow lights as they speed through before it turns red. (That's another one of my quirks, actually. One I stole from a friend.)

I'm guessing it's something more telling. That it says something about who I am as a person.

I'm not really one for surprises. Or rather, I enjoy a surprise if I don't know there's one coming. Like, a year ago, when my good friends teamed up with my sister to surprise me with a trip to Disneyland. That was a fun surprise. One I loved. But I've never really liked knowing that something was coming (even a good surprise, like a Christmas present) and not being included on the details. That's not even hating surprises. That's more like a serious case of FOMO. Maybe I'm just super controlling.

I also like to know where I'm going. When I get into my car--or arrive at the airport--I like to know my exact destination, when I need to be there, and what other obstacles might arise along the way. If something comes up, I can--and will--adjust, but I still have to know where I'm headed. I have to have that goal to look toward.

Perhaps it's some combination. Like, with all the uncertainty we face in the world, I like to control--and know--what I can. Even if it takes away some of the fun. Whatever it is, that's one of my deepest, darkest secrets. I wish I could say that now that this is out in the open, I'll change my ways. But who am I kidding?

Are any of you end-of-the-book-reading monsters like me? Why do you think you do it?

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  1. I wouldn't say I read the end of a book, but I do read spoilers for TV shows.