Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spoiler Alert!

Here is the last sentence of this post...
Of course, at that point, she would be justified in grabbing the book back, proceeding to pummel me with it, and then enjoying her book in leisure.
Now let's begin at the beginning...

My wife and I are big readers. We always have a book with us and several books piled up waiting to be read. We read some of the same books...plus we have some individual preferences. But we have very different approaches to reading books. My natural reaction is to say my way is right and her way is wrong. But we didn't make it through 22 years of marriage with that kind of thinking! So I'll say her way just flabbergasts me while my way makes her laugh at my rigid approach to life.

Here is my way. I open up the book and read page 1. Then page 2. In order...first page to last page. I don't skip ahead. I never look to see what is going to happen. I let the suspense build while the story unravels in an orderly fashion for my reading pleasure.

Her way? She reads the last page first. Every time! She'll go to the book store to buy books and she will have read the ending of all her new books before she even makes it through the line to buy the books. I'm trying to restrain myself here, but I want to say...that's just wrong! If that were me, there would be no reason to even buy the book at that point.

We've discussed this. I like to be surprised. I love not knowing what my gifts will be at Christmas. I don't want to know how a movie ends before I see it. And I don't want to read the last page first.

My wife is the opposite. She likes helping choose her gifts so she is assured of getting what she needs. She doesn't really want to know the ending of the movie first, but if she does know, it certainly doesn't diminish her enjoyment of the movie. And she always reads the last page first.

Why?

Not because she doesn't like a surprise now and then. And it's not because she has no patience. She has plenty of that. But she likes to see how the writer gets from Point A to Point B. If she knows how the book ends, she can enjoy the plot twists and turns while she reads because she can see how the author is moving her toward a particular ending. So rather than spoiling the book for her, it actually increases her enjoyment as she reads to know what is coming at the end. Plus it means she can enjoy reading a book more than once. Me? I can't read it again unless it has been so long that I no longer remember what happens.

I suppose this is just one of those "different strokes for different folks" things. But every time I see her pop open a new book and go right for the last page, I just want to leap to her rescue, grab the book from her hands, and yell "no, you're wrecking it!"

Of course, at that point, she would be justified in grabbing the book back, proceeding to pummel me with it, and then enjoying her book in leisure.

31 comments:

radioactive girl said...

I LOVE your wife. I do it exactly the same way. I also do that with movies sometimes. It makes my husband crazy, but it really does make it more enjoyable for me.

meno said...

I have only rarely read the last page of a book before i finish, and only if it was a book that i could not keep reading if i didn't know that a certain person was going to be okay.

How about you give her a book as a present but remove the last page first and only give it to her when she reads the book?

She's kill you wouldn't she?

CS said...

I'm with you on this one - it would ruin the book for me. Suspense is part of the fun. Does she do this with murder mysteries, too? I had a patient once who told me how a movie ended immediately after I told her I planned to see it, so please don't tell me the ending. I wanted to throw something at her. But that's frowned upon by the ethics board, so I didn't.

It's your wife's decision, of course, and if that makes the book better for her that's great. But I don't get it.

SzélsőFa said...

My husband also reads some passages around the back of a book before he decides on buying it.

And I like how you made me see your wife's motifs. No matter how strange they are for they are strange to me, I see the point.

Rebecca said...

Well, I never read the ending first. But I do tend to keep several books going all at the same time. Occasionally I get sidetracked by a book to the point where I forget what is going on in the first one...and then I am forced to start it all over again. But I do admit that I reread books that I like....sometimes multiple times.

Kati said...

ROFL Dude, I cannot fathom how a person can read the end of a book first. For me, to read the end of the book first doesn't wreck the reading of the book, but it makes absolutely NO sense what-so-ever. I mean, literally, reading the last 2 pages without having the context of the rest of the book first means that those 2 pages make NO sense what-so-ever. But, I've got a friend or two who have no problem doing exactly as your wife does. It annoyes them to no end when I've read the book but will not discuss the book with them until they've read it completely. And it annoys me to no end when they want me to tell them how it ends (or discuss the ending with them) before they've put in the time to read through the book themselves. LOL

It's a good thing you both are able to keep your book-reading habits to yourselves & not kill each other over the differences in reading styles.

As for the gift-giving bit. I am willing to give the DH several specific ideas of things I'd like to receive, but I refuse to make the final decision for him. SOME thought must go into a gift in order for me to really appreciate it, even if it's just weighing the pros & cons between several specific options that I've given him. LOL

Loving Meno's suggestion for a gift of a book, but agree that it'd probably be grounds for murder, as far as your wife is concerned. And, seeing as you know her feelings on reading books this way, a jury would probably let her off by reason of insanity caused by your actions in the first place. ;)

EsLocura said...

Very funny post. I also keep several books going at once and yes, I am guilty of reading the last page, perhaps a middle page and then starting the book on page one. I also read books I have enjoyed several times.

Beth said...

OMG...I could NEVER read the last page first. it is against the law in my house!!!

god, I love the idea of giving your wife a book and ripping out the last page...so evil! ;)

charlottalove said...

So I think you should follow meno's advice and then tell us what happens. lol. I flip to the back of books all the time. Don't know why. I guess if I don't like the ending, I don't need to bother with the rest of the book. As for movies...don't even THINK about telling me the end. I will hurt you.

Bardouble29 said...

I am soooo with you, reading the last pade first is a crime.

Becky68 said...

I don't always read the last page first but I do sometimes, often in the middle of the book the suspense is killing me & I NEED to know if a character makes it to the end! I try not to do so though because I do like to be surprised. This is the sort of thing, especially from your comments, where everyone seems to be one way or the other, but I am not! I also re-read books I've loved. Not every book but the very best ones!

Above Average Joe said...

Great how you gave us the last line first. I give you a lot of credit for thoroughly explaining your wife's reasoning for reading the last page first.

But you are correct. I could never read the last page first.

Dirk_Star said...

H-m-m-m-m...

As a writer I work very hard to build towards the ending from the very first word. If you read the last page first it is more about control than letting me tell you my story in my way.

Chelle said...

I'm with you.....I can't read the last page then it wold ruin the book for me!!! That just doesn't seem right to me! lol

Chicky Pea said...

Looks like we all think you are justified in pummeling HER with the book and telling her she is doing it all wrong :-), but, like you said, that certainly wouldn't add to your 22 yrs of marriage. And yes, it's one of those things that you need to agree to disagree on. My suggestion, the next time she is ready to crack open that new book, leave the room until she is done reading the last page. I'm all about compromise.

Winston said...

Since she doesn't have to put up with me every day, I'll say what you cannot: Your wife is nuts. She is wrong. You are right.

I read books the way you do, from beginning to end with no looking ahead, just the way god and the author intended. Of course, that does have its drawbacks. In 1977, I think it was, I started reading the 7" thick unabridged dictionary. As of yesterday I had gotten down to Warthe and hope to find the last page by the end of the decade.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I do it your way. I hold writers in reverence, and I know that they have crafted their books to disclose things in a certain order. It seems like cheating to read the ending last.

I must admit, though, that on rare occasions, very rare, I have checked ahead to make sure that a character I have grown to love survives whatever difficulties comprise the plot. (Since I don't read mysteries, this hardly ever happens.)

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

LOL! I am with your wife in a way. A lot of the time (but not every time) I read the last paragraph (and just that paragraph) in a book when I start it. I doesn't always give away the ending but you do know what kind of tone the books ends with.

Teena said...

I'm a bit of both of you. Sometimes I want to be surprised. Other times, I'll want to know so I too can see how I'm led there. It depends on what I'm reading and my mood.

Neither way is the wrong way :)

Anonymous said...

99% percent of the time I do it your way. Every once in a blue moon i read the ending before i finish the book. and that usually signifies the end of the book for me since i've lost interest anyway.
foam

Jocelyn said...

This is one of your best posts, Em.

I especially like the part where you assert that you are right, and your wife is wrong. See, I'm like you, as a reader, and it makes me crazy that my mom and sister always read the ending first. YOU AND I ARE RIGHT, friend.

ramblingwoman said...

I'm certainly with you on this one Em.

I can't enjoy a book if I know what happens in the end in the main. With books such as Dickens though, or Jane Austen - these can be read just for the enjoyment of the language, we know full well what will turn out in the end without reading the last page of these books.

I'm kind of with you on the Christmas pressies too. I DO like to drop enormous hints and lists of things I'd like for Christmas, I'm enormously fussy!

Star said...

I have never understood people who read the end first. Although your wife's point of view does make some sense of it. Still , I like to reflect back on the plot twist and turns after I read the book,from beginning to end with no skipping ahead,

Mom not Mum said...

I couldn't imagine reading the last page first. I enjoy reading and I even enjoy getting to the last page where it all suddenly makes sense and you throw the book across the room in disgust or shock. I actually did this with Peter Dickinson's Eva when I finally realized exactly WHAT they had done. Imagine in life how it all would be if we read the last page first - I'll wait for the surprises and throw them across the room as they come.

MarmiteToasty said...

I DOUBLE DARE YOU to remove the last chapter of the next book your wifey has lined up to read LMFAO.....

x

Kevin said...

I am SOLIDLY on your side of this issue. I like to see how the story unfolds.

Dorky Dad said...

Dorky Dad's wife here.

I'm with you -- I simply can't read the last page first. But I won't stop anyone who does. As long as they keep their mouth shut and don't spoil it for me too...

Crashdummie said...

Your wife seems to be a wonerful person... but I have to disagree. Life's full of suprises, and that's what spices it up. Not knowing what awaits round the corner (or in the end of the book) is what makes is all worth it.

Cheers!

Rainbow dreams said...

Sometimes, but only sometimes, I read the ending, but then I tend to lose interest in the book - though I can see the reasoning in your wife's method...
And I almost never read a book twice - there are too many others to read out there.
Thankfully we are all different :)

psycho-therapist said...

argh! that would drive me crazy!
i have NEVER read the last page first or even before the finishing of a really bad book. i'll just put that sucker down. you are a patient and kind hubby (grin)

Gretchen said...

I'm so like your wife. And Big is so like you.

We're readers, too. And...actually, we're geeky enough to be especially pleased when a book appeals to both of us! For now I have him reading Jodi Picoult's 19 Minutes. It's not a real upper, for sure, but such a poignant read. And, as far as books he's turned me on to...The Alienist, by Caleb Carr was one of our first "book club" reads.

FYI: interesting website. We had these docs eval History Boy, and they are learning specialists. They have a blog which I love to read for all it's bizarre and/or useful tidbits about studies they've read. www.neurolearning.com