Life is stressful. There’s the news. Impending ecological disaster. Constant speculations of international crisis. Bees. It’s no wonder that when it is time to relax, unwind and read a book I want to deal with little or no surprises. Yes, even if I’m reading a thriller, a mystery, or what have you. Here’s my Reader Confession: when the going gets tough, I skip to the last chapter and read it.
Yes, I can feel you judging me. “What’s the point of reading if you’re just going to spoil it for yourself?” you say. “The author may have intended for you to feel that stress,” you say. “Isn’t that an insult to the author’s intent?” You know what?
I will not apologize.
Life has my nerves frayed more than the end of your iPhone charger.
The last thing I need is to sit down to a good book only to be met with heart palpitations. If I get the sense than a main character is going to bite it, I thumb my way to the end. Doesn’t matter how early I get this feeling, if it happens in Chapter two or 22. Doesn’t matter the genre, either; my nervousness knows no bounds. YA? Dumbledore was dead to me before Harry found the book. Classic literature? Should have known that Gregor was going to die, and I did! Mystery? For the record, the Butler doesn’t always do it. Speculative Vampire Fiction? I already know Shori comes out on top and I’m not even done reading!
In an age where we are obsessed with spoilers, we have forgotten that often the best parts of a book aren’t happening at the ends. In many ways, maybe our obsession with “spoilers” has enhanced a need to create quick and shocking endings that depend on time sensitivity rather than laying out a continuous compelling story. Books, good books especially, are more than their summaries and plot points.
I’m generally unfazed by spoilers or surprise endings. Often, before I even pick up a book, I’ll read through an entire book summary on Wikipedia (Gasp!) to see if it’s interesting. What matters to me is less “what shock surprise will I get at the end?” and more “is this interesting and can the author pull this off?” To be perfectly cliche, it’s the journey that matters. How the author ends up getting from plot point A, to B, to C and resolution. Summaries can’t spoil that for me and neither can reading ahead.
This is not to say that you should spoil anything for anyone. But I don’t think you should feel bad to skipping to the end to see where something is going. No need to chastise yourself for a perfectly normal amount of curiosity. Hey, if it helps you keep your life a little less frazzled with a few less surprises, then so be it. It may also save you a few hours if that book your weren’t enjoying turns out to have a bad ending anyway.