Why I Read the End First

True confession: I skimmed the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows almost as soon as I opened the book.

I often read the end of a novel first. I know you’re thinking I’m insane – why would I want to spoil great stories for myself?? The answer is simple (and a cliche): it’s more about the journey than the destination. Once I’m invested in story,  I have an overwhelming urge to find out RIGHT NOW if my characters meet the end I’ve planned out for them in my head.

I don’t spoil everything for myself. I always read a significant portion of the novel (or series) before skimming the last few pages — this way I connect to the characters and the plot. If that connection isn’t there, then I’m not invested in the book and while I’ll probably still read the rest of the novel, I won’t bother putting the effort in to think about and analyze the story as I’m reading. If I do make a connection with the characters or the storyline, I want to know the end so that I can better understand the story as I read it. Why does a character make the decisions he or she does? Does it follow a pattern? Are the pieces of rising action building toward something meaningful? Why did the author add that little detail? This probably sounds ridiculous to you, but I really do think these things as I read. If a character does something unexpected, I want to understand why they make that decision and if I know how the story ends, I can better understand the character’s choices. For me, seeing how the story and characters develop is more important than the element of surprise that comes with a twist at the end of the story.

(I sound like such an English teacher right now)

It’s not just books I spoil for myself; I spoil television shows and movies too. IMDB and Wikipedia are my best and worst friends. Sometimes, when I start watching a show on Netflix and really like it, I’ll read up about the best episodes and they skip ahead to watch those – especially if there’s a budding relationship between two characters. This can be really frustrating for my husband, because he never wants to know what happens, and I’m always trying to jump ahead.

As you can imagine, this habit of mine drives my friends and family crazy. Because I care so little about surprise endings, I sometimes inadvertently spoil the end of a novel for a friend. This happens less these days, and because people have gotten really upset with me in the past, I’m much more careful now.  Here’s a blanket apology  if I’ve ever spoiled a book or t.v. show for you: I really am sorry to have ruined the surprise (I am so bad at surprises).

What do you think? Am I committing the worst book-reading sin of all time? Or are you a fellow human spoiler alert?


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