Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I've been known to peek...

I have a teeny confession (come on, it’s been months since my last one) … I sometimes peek at pages towards the end of a book.

Yes, I know, very juvenile and somewhat pathetic, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t read the end of the story (I actually want the plot resolution to still be a surprise), I simply skim the pages to see if names of characters I care about are still there.

I try hard to not let my attention grab on to full sentences. I just want to see enough to know the character/s I care about are still in the picture.

Even if I discover the worst, I’ll still keeping reading – but at least I’m prepared for a particular ending … and often I’m even impressed with how the narrative arc made me OK with that ending by the time I reached it.

I don’t do this with all novels, and if I’m being honest, it tends to involve stories that are relationship based. I did it with The Remains of the Day (would Mr Stevens make his meeting with Miss Kenton?) and I did it this week – despite giving myself a good talking to that it was not the behaviour of a mature reader!!

I was reading the second instalment of Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series (full posting to come on this once I’ve made it through all four novels), and found I needed to know if Bella and Edward were going to be reunited. (Of course, I know there are two more, so they would be together again at some point, but I needed to know if it was going to happen in this book.)

I guess it’s a sign of well created tension that I feel the need to do this with certain stories. It could also be a sign I don’t yet trust the author - there's a fear they may make me care about a character, only to rip my heart out. (With more books, and more understanding of an author’s style, this becomes less of an issue).

Perhaps this is one of the reasons I enjoy writing so much: I’m in control of my characters’ destinies. No surprises!

Is anyone else brave enough to admit to this embarrassing compulsion (or give me the lecture I deserve!), and if so, what books prompted it?


Bec said...

Ok, I'm feeling brave :P And I've got an even more embarrassing confession. I actually read the endings of books. Actually I do this a LOT. Sometimes I can't enjoy a book unless I actually know and feel comfortable with how it's going to end!!! I think I'm one of the few people on earth that doesn't mind people telling me about the 'twist' in the end of a story or movie. It doesn't take away an ounce of enjoyment for me, and if there is tension in the story, then knowing the ending means I can enjoy the tension without getting all knotted up and obsessive about how it will turn out.

Oh my goodness I sound like a neurotic fruit loop don't I?!!!! Oh well, like I said, I'm feeling brave, and if you're going to stand up and take cream pies in the face for your confession, then I'll be standing next to you, sharing the joy....come on - I can take it :P

BooksPlease said...

I peek too, sometimes with my hand over most of the page! I just can't stand the tension sometimes, but other times I'm very strict with myself and wait. I think it's a sign of a either a good book, as it's gripping me or alternatively a sign of a poor book that's boring me and I'm thinking is it worth reading any more.

Gustav said...

What deplorable conduct!

This post makes me laugh as I always feel this magnetic pull to go to the last page and read the last paragraph in almost every book I read that is good.

Yet I never have. Somehow I stop myself. Its sort of like opening a Christmas present before Christmas day or determining the sex of your child before they are born.

Surpises are the essence of life and endings deserve to be endings, we owe it to the the story and the author. No?

Linda Jacobs said...

I'm not a peeker, either; it just spoils it for me. I do, however, check the back of the book to see if there is an excerpt from another novel or a reading guide. I like knowing how long the main book is and hate thinking that I have another 20 pages or so and then...bam...the book is done before I'm ready.