Friday, April 4, 2014

Confession of an end-reader

I have been known to read a book in the following order: beginning, end, middle.
It might be hereditary. I grew up seeing my mom do this countless times. Finger holder her place about one-third of the way through her paperback novel, her thump making a flip-book out of the middle third, her attention on final chunk of action. Of course, being an unsympathetic and hypocritical adolescent, I gave her a hard time then promptly developed a habit of doing the very same thing, mostly for one of three reasons:
1.       The plot of a book is interesting enough that I want to know what happens, but the writing or characters or setting or all of the above is boring/terrible/annoying enough that I don’t really care to see HOW it happens.  In this case, I’ll skip or skim to the end, close the book, and call it a day.
2.       I just get impatient – this applies to life, generally. I open mail on the walk between mailbox and house. I like to open presents as soon as I get them instead of waiting for the event. I’m a sloppy dishwasher because I just want to be done with it already (so I can read my book, obviously).  I don’t like to read directions (I actually kind of prefer those picture-only directions). When I just get impatient and the book is good, I satisfy my curiosity…and then I’ll savor the journey. Full disclosure: impatient skipping ahead may or may not happen most often when I’ve stayed up reading until 2 a.m. and have to get up at dark-thirty to go to work the next day.
3.       Sometimes, I skip ahead because a book is just plain STRESSING ME OUT (I’m looking at you Chaos Walking) and I need to find out what happens before my brain explodes.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with skipping ahead in a book. I’m a pretty relaxed reader and try not to impose my personal reading rules on anyone else. But I’ve recognized that I really do prefer to read a book in the “traditional” way – start to finish, beginning, middle, end – because there really is a whole other level of satisfaction to be found in the journey, not just the destination  (unless it’s a crap book – see #1). Of course, that’s just my opinion. I might think that skimming through Emma doesn’t really allow a reader to fully appreciate or get as much out of the book, but if that’s how you enjoy (or don’t) reading it – whatever floats your boat.
So what about you? Do you ever skip ahead?  Read the end of a book first?


  1. Amanda, I'm just finishing up writing Fairwil. So, naturally, I'm now thinking of you reading the end of it before the middle. :) Sometimes I get stressed out, too, and want to know where a book is going. Great post!

  2. Thanks! While I think I would be slightly tempted to read the end of Fairwil first...mostly, I think with that book I just want to make it last as long as possible! :)