Monday, November 19, 2012

Why I Read Books Even When I Know the Ending

It's happened to you before.

You're checking out a book you're thinking about reading by looking at reviews, interviews with its author, and random fangirling posts on Tumblr. Then, just when you're starting to get really excited, you read it. That remark someone made without the SPOILER ALERT before it. That single sentence that ruins the whole book for you.

Or, you're out in public reading a book, a book you're completely enraptured with, and that one jackass walks up to you, their sentence starting with something like "By the way" or "Just so you know" and ending with crushed dreams.

In high school, books get spoiled for you all the time, especially the books assigned in English class. It happens as a result of everyone reading the same book at the same time and different people being at different parts of the book.

Often times it is accidental. Someone starts discussing a part of the book with you, not knowing that you have yet to get that far.

Sometimes it is not. Some such jackass of the kind previously mentioned comes up and straight tells you the end of the book. They carry that special twinkle in their eye, anticipating your outburst of anger.

Myself, I just shrug and turn back to my book. Why? Because I really don't care.

Perhaps this is because I read so many books where I can predict the ending very early on. However, there is something else that keeps me reading, both when I am told the ending and when I guess it.

The ending is just one part of the whole gloriousness of the story.

Think about it. How many books do you absolutely love solely for their ending? Can you even name one? You probably have many reasons for loving the books you really, really love. Consider them. I'm willing to bet they're things along the lines of elements carried throughout the story or the characters themselves or a scene in the middle of the book. The ending may be tacked on that list, but it is not the only thing.

Plus, knowing the ending and experiencing it are not the same thing. It's like spark noting Harry Potter and saying it was as wonderful as actually reading it.

Still not convinced? Here's another way of putting it.

We all know our lives are going to end in death. It's inevitable. It's set. We are born. We die. But you still want to experience the stuff in the middle, right? I thought so.

How do you feel about spoilers?


  1. I agree. It's about the experience, not the ending. I often times will guess the ending, or a plot twist, way ahead of time, too. That doesn't mean the story is boring. If I'm carried away by the story, then it was worth my time. Who cares if I guessed it :) Great post!

  2. I don't mind knowing endings, and I often read books more than once. But I think there's also an element of watching the character discover something you already know, like watching someone open a present where you know what it is and they don't. Following the character find out stuff can be just as enjoyable as finding out yourself.

    Moody Writing

    1. Yes! I know exactly what you're talking about. That is also a wonderful part of predicting things in a story. You have to rush on both to see if you're right and to see the characters discover it for themselves!

  3. I really don't like to know the ending. I enjoy that feeling of wishing I could read faster to get to the end because I can't wait to see what happens, but if I already know the end, I don't enjoy it it as much. My little nephew told me something critical about a movie I was anxious to see and I it still gets me every time I think of it. This happened 6 years ago and he was only 8. HAHA. I know I am a bad aunt. Great post.

    1. I understand your point of view. I feel like this sometimes as well when I read a book. :) But I can still enjoy it even knowing the ending.

      Now TV shows/films, that's a whole other story.

  4. Who was it who said it's about the journey, not the destination? It might be a cliche but it's true :-)

  5. I can't stop myself from reading spoilers. They don't ruin books or movies for me. I knew all about the Star Wars movies and about Cloud Atlas, and to some extent, even what's happening on "The Walking Dead."

    Thanks for being a part of my book tour. I gotta hear back from Roxanne as to what day she's scheduling you.

    1. I also know a few things about the upcoming TWD episodes because of the fact that I searched the characters on Wikipedia and read the comic parts. XD

      You're welcome, Michael. ^^ I can't wait to see your post.

  6. You really got me when you compared endings to death. Yeah, it doesn't tell you the middle, does it?

    I've have disliked books more for their endings more than having books ruined for knowing the ending in advance. I'll confess, if a book is particularly stressful, I've been known to look ahead.

    But why people want to give away endings, I just don't get.

    1. I myself thought it was a very profound metaphor. ;)

      I often look ahead as well, I admit. Though usually it's because I like to rub the pages while I read so I catch glimpses of what's ahead and then I need to know more.

      They just want to see people's reactions because they're horrible. -.-