Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are You A Book Cheater?

How do you deal with suspense? Do you patiently turn the pages, eagerly waiting for the big climax? Do you tear through the book skimming the pages until you know what's going to happen? Or...Do you cheat? Do you skip to the end and discover the big reveal?

I don't deal with suspense well in books. While I can easily put off opening my Christmas presents until late on Christmas day, I have the hardest time not knowing what's going to happen in a tense novel. It's the same with movies. For example, I saw Titanic on the day it premiered (my friend Chris was obsessed with the ship). I certainly knew that the boat wasn't going to float off into the sunset, but I didn't know precisely what would happen with Jack and Rose. I was so nervous during the movie that I didn't enjoy it all that much. I saw the film again the following day with a big group of friends. Since I already knew the entire plot - both true and fictional - I was free to enjoy the romance and the beautiful cinematography of the movie.

I have a bad habit of skipping to the end of books. It is rarely a smart thing to do. I'm sure that plenty of people can discover a book's secret and still enjoy it. I usually cannot. I inch up the roller coaster of a suspenseful novel, my stomach twisting in anticipation of the big discovery. If I can hold out and not skip to the end, I reach the book's climax and descend rapidly into the secret, raise my arms and shout at the exhilarating feeling of the speed and the wind rushing at my face. On the other hand, if I stop mid-way during the roller coaster's climb and learn about the reward at the end, the top of the roller coaster becomes a plateau. With no momentum, the car slows and eventually stops. No excitement, no exhilaration. Just a let down.

When I skip to the end of a book, I usually lose interest no matter how much I was enjoying it before. I don't want to completely give the novel up. Instead, I skim the remaining pages to find out a few details that I care about.

I've missed out on the experience of savoring numerous great books. Here are a few:

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld - I loved Uglies. I read midway through Pretties and just had to know what was going to happen. I peeked and then got bored.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - This book isn't even that suspenseful. But for whatever reasons, I couldn't wait. I skimmed and gave it up. I was left with the impression that I didn't like Maureen's novels. Luckily, I read her Suite Scarlett series and the The Last Little Blue Envelopes. I adored those books and really regret not taking the time to appreciate 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

Do you ever skip to the end of a book? Does it improve or hinder your reading experience? Are there any books that you specifically remember sneaking a look at book's secret?

54 comments :

  1. I do read ahead sometimes however for me I find it helps me regain interest. I do it when I am not totally sold on a book. I peek ahead and sometimes read something that gets me interested in finding out how that happened!

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  2. I NEVER EVER peek ahead. Part of why I love to read, or watch movies for that matter, is that I have no idea what's going to happen next. Regardless of genre, I just love being surprised. (Will they kiss? Is she going to die? Are they going to get caught? What's his secret?)

    This is also the same reason I hate spoilers because when someone spills the beans about a plot or storyline, then I feel like I've missed out on something that could have been a huge/exciting reveal.

    Thanks for the great post, loved it!

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  3. I never skip to the end, but there have been times when I skim a chapter just to make sure that someone lives or something like that. I love mysteries so skipping ahead would ruin too many books for me. Happy reading.

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  4. I used to skip ahead A LOT when I was younger. Now, I don't usually do it anymore, even thought sometimes I really, really want to... Like you mentioned, it makes me lose interest in the story. This is also why I never watch the movie before reading the book, or try not to at least.

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  5. I look ahead a LOT as well! It really does help me relax and enjoy the story.

    The one time I remember being really surprised and proud for having NO desire to look ahead is HP & the Deathly Hallows. The series was practically sacred to me, and even after years of waiting for it, I wasn't even slightly tempted to peek :)

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  6. I talked about this once too. I always skip to the ending even though I was told not to do that way too many times to count. I can't help it. If it's a good book, my head buzzes, I get grumpy when people talk to me and I'm pleasant to be around if I don't. I can't deal with the tension but unlike you, this doesn't ruin my love for the book. It just gives me time to come to terms with where the novel is going. Great post!

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  7. I used to do this all the time but learnt my lesson after being put off reading the rest of the book. Now I'm getting very good at reading in the proper order! :)

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  8. I don't think I've ever skipped ahead in a book. I think the worst thing I've done is read the very last word. Just the last word, so nothing that spoils the plot majorly. I love reading it from front to back and getting excited as to what is going to happen!!
    I like the way you compared it to Christmas presents. Seeing as I buy all the gifts in my family (those from me, and from my parents to others) I like having some surprises in my life; which I get through reading :).

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  9. :O

    I never skip ahead lol!!! But I do read very fast and tend to start skim reading just to find out what happens sooner! lol and then I realize what I'm doing and make myself read it properly!

    I love books that make you that anxious to find out what happens!

    Amy @ Turn the Page

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  10. I love suspense and mystery books. I never skip ahead. I love to figure things out as I go along with the characters.

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  11. I try to never ever peak ahead, however, I am SO guilty of reading ahead on the set of pages I'm on. For example if I turn a page and a word catches my eye or there is something written in a different font, my eye immediately goes to it, and I catch myself reading ahead. This happened a lot as I was reading Pretty Little Liars, as the text messages from A would usually appear at the end of the chapter, so as I turned the page, I would have to cover the text, so I didn't read ahead. Hahaha!

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  12. I absolutely can't skip to the end, but I have been known to start skimming rather than reading once things get really tense ;)

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  13. I never skip to the end. I have so few surprises that aren't things like flat tires that I savor it. Also I am too good of a guesser, so often I figure it out anyways. I won't even touch Christmas gifts if I get any. . Amy @ www.bookgoonie.com

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  14. It depends on a book, most of the time I don't read ahead. But, I do skim forward to clam my nerves if there is something really thrilling going on. Also, I cheat sometimes by skipping to the end if the book is slow to see if it is worth reading to the end or not. Usually it encourages me to read it through.

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  15. I can't remember skipping to the end unless I can't stand the book and want to know what happens, usually I just stop reading tho and google the ending LOL.

    Now if I am losing interest in some parts of the book but not enough to stop reading I will skim. For example, the 1st Outlander book; there was an entire page where they were discussing what was in a medicine cabinet, I. don't. care. so I skimmed.

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  16. I never skip ahead. It's kind of sad actually, because there are some books that I can't get into and stop reading. Then it bugs me that I don't know the ending (well, I might google it, but it's not the same.)

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  17. hahah! This is a good discussion.

    Yep. I'm guilty. I've skipped. BUT only a little bit. I try to not make a habit out of it. If I just can't take it anymore (like the plot is slow) than I skip ahead to see if its worth reading. Or romance- I'm so bad about this- I want to see how the couple/love triangle works out. I skip ahead.

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  18. I don't like to skip cause then I miss alot of what happen then I am confused. Though I am tempted at times cause I just want to know!

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  19. Haha! I kind of cheat during suspenseful moments. I always skim and skip those unimportant details. I'm always tempted to look at the last sentence or paragraph of the last page in a chapter. I have no idea why.

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  20. I have yet to turn to the end and read. Not saying I haven't wanted to..cause I have..but something keeps me from doing so..But there have been times I have skimmed a page quickly during a non important part to move on to the next exciting thing..so maybe I cheat just a wee bit here and there

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  21. I love suspense and big plot twists that totally surprise me, so I never skip! When I was a teen I used to have a thing about reading the last line of a book before I started reading it, (dunno why!) but I don't do that anymore!

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  22. Yes, yes I am a cheater:) I flipped right to the end of both Shadowfever and Hard Bitten because I had to know what happened. I'm one of those people that stresses a lot when I read, and I find that if I know how things end, I can better cope with what is happening along the way. I just get so attached to my characters, so I need to know that things will or will not be okay before I can deal with the journey part:) I embrace my cheater nature!

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  23. I usually try to power through most books, but lately, I've find myself skimming in the hopes of something interesting happening. I think the last three books I kind of glossed over hoping that they'd pick up. I did skip to the end of a few books only to be disappointed, but most of the time, if it's a good ending, that'll help me get through it.

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  24. Love your discussion posts Alison.

    I can't book cheat. I don't know why. I never skim or jump to the end. Even when I'm dying to know what going to happen. I think, if I did, I'd lose interest when I went back to read the middle, like you.

    P.S. I had the same experience with Titanic. AMC had a Titanic movie marathon where they played the film on repeat all day! It was awesome. LOL

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  25. Sigh, like you I book cheat and sometimes I stop reading the book. No matter how I tell myself I won't do it, I usually end up doing it anyway. I need some sort of 12 step program for this.....
    NC
    Truly Bookish

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  26. I book cheat, but I don't consider it cheating - it's just my reading style sometimes. I'm a person who still wants to see a movie even if I know the ending. The middle is the meat, and there's no cheating with that! I usually only do this is I am particularly anxious about the end, but then I want to know how they got to that end, so it really ruins nothing for me.

    Fun topic!

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  27. I do this fairly regularly. I often read the last page of a book just so I have some reference for where we're going. And if I know I can't finish a book before I HAVE to go to sleep, I'll often read ahead so I feel better about putting the book down. I don't think it ruins things for me, but it does take some of the suspense out for sure!

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  28. No cheating for me but I don't handle the stress well. I usually run off to read the reviews on goodreads or talk to someone on twitter hoping to find someone who is reading or has read the book. I usually am fine if I can find someone to tell me to keep reading. Then I stay up all night finishing the book! =)

    StuckInBooks.com

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  29. I totally did the same thing with the Uglies series! It happens to me sometimes when I read series too fast and in the end I just want to know what happens, sometimes I can continue the book, other times I get bored (like with Pretties)

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  30. I'm not a book cheater/page skipper. I love the feeling of the anticipation and the surprise. I however sometimes find myself getting too excited during parts and reading a sentence further down the page by accident. Sometimes I have to control myself with a bookmark so I only read the sentence I'm on.

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  31. NEVER! Never, ever, ever! For me, this is one of the worst of offenses that I could take part in when reading a book. I am always so intensely paranoid that someone is going to ruin the ending of a book for me as well. When I went to the midnight releases of the HP books, I would bring earplugs, shield my eyes, and then not leave the house or go anywhere near the internet until I finished the book for myself. It would absolutely ruin the book for me.

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  32. Absolutely not! That is definitely one thing that I cannot do while reading a book for the first time, because it would just ruin the book for me. On the other hand, I don't mind just reading my favorite scenes when I'm bored...if I've already it at least once. =)

    Orchid
    The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

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  33. you cheat?! oh my! I NEVER cheat. I sometimes see myself looking over on to the next page but NEVER to the end of the book! I'm not surprised you got bored with Pretties if you knew the end... it kinda suffered from that sucky second book syndrome! :(

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  34. I'm not a cheater. I hardly ever read a ahead, and when I do it's just to find out some minor detail that may be bugging that is usually inconsequential to the story.

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  35. No spoiling for me. I love surprising and jumping to the end doesn't work for me at all.

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  36. I never read the last page first, but I will occasionally flip back a few pages to make sure someone hasn't been killed or to see what's going on if the pace of a book is too slow or if I'm thinking about DNFing it.

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  37. Sometimes I skim a bit when I'm impatient with the book, and I only cheat (read the ending without the middle) when I'm bored with a book and am not planning on spending much time reading the middle anyway.

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  38. Love this topic! Lol. Mostly because it's about something I can almost (but not quite) relate to and have wondered about myself. I never read ahead or skip to the end. I have to have the big build up so that I can fully enjoy the ride. I'd feel like I cheated myself or maybe ruined the big moment if I allowed myself to take a sneak peek! Or maybe I'm just too much a rule follower, which is probably the case.

    On the other hand, my best friend and I regularly swap books and she always peeks! It drives me crazy! But, hey, live and let live... Just don't tell me what you read on that last page!

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  39. I don't really skip to the end usually, but when something suspenseful starts happening I start speed reading, trying to figure out what's going to happen. Which turns into skimming and then a lot of times I miss important details and have to go back and reread sections.
    I have been known to go to the last few page though, which is never a good idea. And I find that e-books are an advantage to that, since you can go to the last page of an e-book, but it takes a lot more effort!

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  40. Haha! I'm always tempted to let my eyes scan the page, so when I'm really excited about a book, I tend to cover most of the text while I read so I don't accidentally spoil anything! :)

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  41. I'm definitely a cheater. I don't lose interest though. I usually feel better and can enjoy the rest of the book.

    BUT sometimes I don't skip all the way to the back or something else weird and I misunderstand what I read and it is quite unfortunate. This is the what I deserve as a cheater. After all, cheaters never win.

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  42. I don't deal with suspense very well, either! Watching movies, I sometimes have to just look away and wait until the suspense is over before my pulse gets too crazy. In books, I have been known to flip to the last page on occasion to make sure it all ends well. (Which can be reassuring or nerve-wrecking depending on whether it all ends well or not. :)

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  43. I never skip ahead. I love the anticipation and not knowing what's going to happen until it happens. That being said, I'm a sucker for skipping over huge descriptive paragraphs that take way too long to read.

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  44. Oh never! Looking ahead is right up there with dog-earing pages as far as book sins are concerned :P As much as I may want to know what happens next, I don't want to spoil myself or find out something in a way it wasn't intended.

    Though....sometimes I'm ok with getting slight spoilers. I wouldn't skim the book to find them because I'd probably read a bunch of stuff I don't want to know yet. In those rare cases I'll ask a friend who has already read it. I really liked Sherwood Smith's blog post about those kinds of spoilers. I consider it more like vague assurances more than actual spoilers.

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  45. I'm very good at not looking at the end of books. I like being surprised!

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  46. I can honestly say that I never skip to the end of a book ... I've always hated when I'm in the theater and it's a movie that my sister or daughter has already seen and I murmur aloud my speculations about what or who and they say, "Oh, no .. THIS is what happened". HATE it. I HAVE, however, lately tried the Page 69 Test with some of my books (the theory being that if you like page 69, you'll like the rest of the book). I have a daughter, however, (the same one that I won't take to the movies with me any longer), who will skip straight to the end of a book with no compunctions about it. :)

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  47. I may skim through a lot of the descriptive paragraphs but I NEVER, NEVER look at the end. To me that just ruins everything..if I look at the end and know what happens then why read the rest of the book..I just couldn't do that.

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  48. I'm usually pretty good about waiting. They have been a few times where I've accidentally spoiled something, but flipping through to see how many more chapters or pages are left and my eyes accidentally fall on something or even through a review. And when I do spoil something it definitely does lose a bit of the magic, so I definitely try to avoid doing it.

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  49. I am a cheater. I don't usually skip to the ends of books, although I did when I was younger. However, if I am reading something and the main character is in danger, sometimes I cannot stand the suspense and am so nervous for the characters that I will skip ahead a couple of pages to make sure they make it through. Then I can go back and read easy, without anxiety knowing they will make it. I don't regret it as my anxiety can get really high. I am able to enjoy the suspense better knowing how it turns out. I am like this with tv too. I could barely stand watching Prison Break. I used to pace around and hide behind the couch I was so freaked out. When I watched Alias on DVD I admit, I would sometimes fast forward a bit during her missions to make sure she would be okay then I'd go back and re-watch from the beginning once I knew how it turned out.
    I suppose I have a hard time with suspense. It makes me too nervous when it is really well done. ;)

    -jehara

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  50. I've done it a couple of times but I found that if I do "cheat" it detracts from the reading experience for me...so I really try not to.

    Great topic! :)

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  51. I don't usually skip to the end. But that's because I usually have a theory about what's going on, and I go with that theory till we find out what's actually happening.

    The same goes with a series. BUT... When I was reading City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, I could not handle the fact that Clary and Jace were brother and sister so I googled it, to find out the answer. Reading the rest of the series was WAY more enjoyable after that.

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  52. I admit it. I cheat like a mofo with books. And movies. I don't like going to them unless I've been spoiled. I just don't like surprises.

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  53. I'm definitely not a cheater. I really actually love suspense. It keeps me reading and turning the page faster. I kind of hate it when there ISN'T suspense because I don't know what I'm looking forward to. lol

    ♥ Sarah @ I'm Loving Books

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  54. I've only skipped ahead once while reading a book and that's because the book was starting to get slow and I was losing interest and I just wanted to get it over with and find out what happened. Other than that I've never had an interest to skip ahead because I know like spoilers it would ruin the whole book for me. If someone slips a spoiler I will get irritated and just hate them for a while and not pick up the books in hopes that I'll somehow forget whatever they told me. I can't skip ahead, if a book is suspenseful I'll just read faster and finish that book a lot quicker but no peeking for me :).

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