Thursday, June 14, 2007

Booking it Backward

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young. ~ Maya Angelou

I slept in today -- until 4:50 a.m.!! Woo! I feel refreshed and ready to Book It:

Booking Through Thursday

Dessert first

Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?

Oh yeah I peek at the ending almost all the time. I absolutely insist on a happy ending, and with books outside the romance genre, this is not guaranteed. So I check. Charity once recommended a book called "I Am the Messenger" (a fabulous book, BTW -- I highly recommend it). You bet your boots I flipped to the back -- I was confused by the end there, but assured that even the dog survives. It was an ambiguous ending, but not unhappy. I'm okay with that.

I used to read a particular series and had the latest one in my pile of library books when I read online that the author killed off a main, and well-loved, character in that book. I looked at the end (something I hadn't done earlier, because this author had never disappointed me before, and I felt I could rely on her). Sure enough, the scuttlebutt was correct. The book went back to the library without me reading a page.

Jenny Cruise said, "Some readers go to the end of the book and read that immediately because they need to know it’s going to end okay. If they’re reassured, they start at the beginning. But if they already know what’s going to happen, why do they bother?

Because while the climax is the pay-off, it’s not the reason people read story. They read story for the journey, to experience what the protagonist experiences, and by doing so, share in her or his triumph or fall at the end
I absolutely agree. And in a mystery, usually "whodunnit" isn't revealed in the final few paragraphs, so I still have that to sustain me throughout.

Knowing the end doesn't ruin it for me. An unhappy ending ruins it for me. What about you?


In perusing other BTT participants, there seems to be the feeling that knowing the ending of book ruins the excitment or enjoyment of the story -- I disagree. How many books (or movies or whatever) do you read (or watch) several times? Do you enjoy it less the second (or third, or fourth) time around? Sometimes I think the experience is richer after the first time. Because you know the plot, you can look for nuances or little things you might have missed before.

But, again, that's just me -- and I've been told more than once that I march to a different drum.

And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted? See above.
Diane suggested I do something to celebrate finishing and submitting my novel yesterday. I think I will.

DH found a laptop perfect for me and asked if I wanted him to buy it. I've agonized all night, but it's a great deal (he works for a computer company) and I'm dying for one. I think I'm a-gonna do it. So, I won't be able to eat for a month... I'm pretty sure I can live of my fat stores.

Yay! I'll be able to write in the sunshine and out of the mushroom pit!

Hey... we have new reviews posted at LASR. Have you looked lately?


Ceri said...

I don't look at the end. I want to be surprised, for better or worse. Of course if its for the worse I may send the book across the room, but I'd rather not know. The only one I knew the ending of was Cell by S. King, only because it was such a looong book and my mom had already read it and said the ending was stupid. So I didn't waste my time.

good on the laptop! I have one and adore it. Just need a cooling pad for it.

Allie Boniface said...

Congrats on finishing - and one the laptop! You'll love it:)

Judy Thomas said...

I don't normally read the ending either. I don't really NEED it to end HEA (mainly because when it doesn't I just rewrite the ending in my head, anyway... lol)

You will love your laptop. I'm so pleased for you. Now... you DO have wireless, right? Cause, ya know, I have to be able to chat while you are sitting out in your yard working!

Chris said...

Oh thank goodness I'm not the only peeker!

I totally agree with Ms Crusie. It's the journey. I don't have a problem with spoilers. I am a re-reader too. I've read Jane Eyre many times and although nothing is like the first time, I always enjoy it.

MaryF said...

Definitely get the laptop! Wheee!

Rhinoa said...

I do sometimes look at the end too. I don't do it before I read it, more to see if my theory is right maybe? It's quite rare I check, but I have been doing it with the series I am reading at the moment. It's not to check the main character survives as I know she does as there are a bunch more books in the series. Hmm

Melissa said...

I read in sequence. The couple of times I peeked at the end, I never finished the book.

Yay on the laptop!

Ghost said...

You bring up some good points but just like I don't know how my life is going to end, I don't want to know how a book is going to end until I get to it. I've learned to equate re-reading a book as a memory. My friends and family sometimes enjoy reminiscing about the past and when I'm re-reading a book it's just the same as reliving a good memory and then there are times when my sieve of a brain just doesn't remember until I get to the last page how the book ends. ;)

Charity said...

It's both for me, journey and destination. I elaborated on it here.

Go. For. The. Laptop. Methinks you will need to increase your productivity in the very near future.

Toni Lea Andrews said...

I am morally opposed to peeking! I work so hard at surprising my readers at the end...

I have a friend who ALWAYS looks at the end. She also critiques work for me. Which I send her a chapter at a time.


Julia said...

Marianne - Well...I also re-read books too. Many time. But I want my first time reading the book to be spoiler free, exciting and enjoyed. You want to hold your breath when the plot thicken and rise...feel the whole experience.

Re-reading a favorite book, to me is whole different thing IMO. It not like the first time when you read it, unless you waited a long period of time to re-read it then yes I would enjoyed the book(s) as if was my first. You're just visiting an old friends (characters) again, so the feeling is there but it little bit different,feeling IMO. I'm usually not good at explaining things, I stink at it.... so...LOL.... I'm proably a majority of this, Marianne *grin*

Love your good point thoughts, it something to think about :) Thanks for visiting my blog


bookinhand said...

BTT -- I like your points about why it's ok to peek, but I still don't think I can do it! Your ideas were good food for thought, though! Diane

Gay said...

I don't peek. I like surprises, but even when I do know the ending, if a book is written well, you still have to read to find out how the author GOT them there.

I am SO glad you're going for the laptop. You deserve the freedom to leave the dungeon. You deserve a sunny garrett instead.

teabird said...

I'm with Julia - when I reread, it's like a visit to a familiar place - but the first time I go there, I want to be enchanted!

Definitely, get the laptop - you deserve it for finishing (for working on...) the novel. No question!

Rowena said...

Hey great post! I'm glad you found me, you gave me a new blog to stalk! LOL.

You raise a lot of valid points and you are completely right. I watch movies over and over again and still love them just the same, the same with books, I've reread my favorite books over and over again and still get the same thrill I did when I first read those books.

So, I'm a proud spoiler hoe, thanks!

Cee Cee said...

If peeking makes me happy then I'm PEEKING! Hey, I've got to save some of those M&M's for another book.

Trish said...

I think you might be a little bit of an anomaly among us. While I do agree with you that a certain appreciation can be achieved when re-reading a book, or watching a movie (in my case over and over and over--to hubby's chagrin), for me nothing beats the suspense I get out of reading a really good book and not knowing the ending.

--Deb said...

The vast majority of respondents DO seem to be saying, "No, never," but I do. Not often, but a peek . . . for much the same reasons. I like to know if the ending is going to be happy or not, or--when a character is in jeopardy--if they're going to survive the immediate crisis. I don't (well, usually) READ the ending ahead, it's more of a peek, a glimpse. No worse than seeing the "next week" scenes on a tv show when you've missed an episode.

And yes, I read, and re-read books and watch and re-watch movies all the time. It's part of the fun!

Congrats on finishing your book, and on the new computer!

Suzanne said...

I don't peek and I never even feel tempted. I must be very linear. Or anal-retentive. :)

Dru said...

I don't peek...I like to read it from page 1 to the end.

Get the'll never regret it.

Melody said...

Hi Marianne, I understand your point, but well I just can't do it. LOL. Oh, and I love what Jenny Crusie said!

You asked about how we feel about an unhappy ending. For me, I want the ending to be happy and sweet for a romance genre, but I don't mind reading a sad ending in a fiction. Although it's sad, but some of them can be thought provoking, and I like reading stuff like that.

Glad you've found a perfect laptop! Keep writing. :)

Diane said...

I love my laptop. I hope you get one. You deserve it!

Marty said...

Yes, I always read ahead. I don't always do it before I start, but at some point, I do--I want to know if I've figured it out, lol. Congrats on the laptop and all!

Alice Teh said...

They read story for the journey, to experience what the protagonist experiences, and by doing so, share in her or his triumph or fall at the end.

I agree with you, Marianne. I must say your BTT is one of the best I've read for this round. Happy weekend!

Athena said...

I don't peek because I like to read about how the author put it forth. Unless the novel is a thriller, mystery or extremely suspenseful, I don't really care if the ending is happy or sad, as long as it's well written in the context of the book as a whole. I think some readers are ruined by the initial surprise. Besides, most of us know the ending to major classics even if we haven't been inclined to read them. Thanks for the comment.