I have a confession…I’m an “end reader.” Yes, I’m one of those people who reads the first few chapters of a book, skips to the last chapter, and then U-turns back to where I left off. It’s funny how this quirk of mine makes some people so angry, “How can you do that?!” they cry, in tones that make me wonder if I’m physically wounding them. As a reader, they think I’m ruining the book for myself (which I’m not). As a writer, they wonder how I can play traitor to what the author intended. I see it as a learning experience.
Here’s how it goes — when I already know the ending, I can pick out the foreshadowing, subtleties, tricks and devices used by the writer much more easily, which helps with my own writing. I still end up reading every word, too — just a little out of order. At least, I’m not one of those people who gives everything away…”Oh, she dies at the end. Don’t bother.”
Reading the end is a personality trait, too, I guess. I’m not trying to get points for being deep and brooding like Billy Crystal’s character in When Harry Met Sally, “When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends.”
No, I’m more like the little boy in the movie, The Princess Bride, listening to his Grandfather read to him — I require some simple reassurance, “She doesn’t get eaten by the eels at this time…The eel doesn’t get her. I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.”
And, just like the grandson contradicts; I’m not nervous — just a little concerned, is all. Doesn’t the author want me to be concerned about what happens? If I’m not, then it’s time to chuck the book, and start back at the beginning — or the end.
While we’re on the topic of reading-confessions, here are a few more;
- I re-read Bridget Jones’s Diary every year, and I’m not ashamed.
- I tend to rebel against Oprah picks.
- I often judge books by their covers — Sorry! I’m doing better on this one, though.
- I give a book 75 pages to hook me… if you don’t have me by then, there are too many other books to read.
- I only read the Little House book, The Long Winter, in the summertime.
- I read the Epilogue of Harry Potter (Book #7)…first.
Feel free to leave your reading-confessions in the comment box. We’re all friends here.