Is Peeking at the Ending a Bad Reading Habit?

15:00 Cilla P 5 Comments

There was a time when reading ahead, let alone peeking at the end of a book, was an absolute no-no for me. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, my friend told me that she'd picked up a copy at the bookshop and flipped right to the last page then and there. I was aghast. Aside from immediately forbidding her from telling me about it, I thought reading ending first would completely ruin the reading experience.

And yet, recently I've found myself flipping ahead, or even glancing at the last page. I'm not sure why! It's happened both with books that I like and books that don't hold my attention, so it's not necessarily me looking for a reason to keep reading (though it is possible in some occasions). There's a lot of discussion about how smartphones and multi-tasking is rewiring our brains and making us less patient, which is something I've noticed with myself when I'm studying. I find it more difficult to focus on one task for an extended period of time, something I used to be quite good at. It's possible that this is affecting my reading too.

The journey is supposed to be the exciting part of reading, right? If you already know how the story ends, then there's no mystery, anticipation, or surprises. Or is there?

In many ways, we know how most stories will end. The couple will get their happy ending. There's a 95% chance the revolution will succeed, or the orphan is going to save the world. Knowing this doesn't put me off reading romance or fantasy, because I don't know what will happen in the middle. I'd be more annoyed if someone told me of a major plot twist that happens in the middle of a book. Of course, there will be books where knowing the ending would completely and utterly ruin the fun (like if someone had told me who had died at the end of the fifth and sixth Harry Potter). On the whole though, is it really bad to peek at the ending before you finish reading?

What do you think?
Have you ever read the ending of a book first?
How do you feel about spoilers? 


  1. I know a few people who read the end first because they don’t like sad books. I only skip ahead if I’m considering DNFing the book. I want to know if the book gets better before I give up on it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I peek at the ending when the book is slow or the book is too thick. But I almost always regretting doing so because it spoiled an otherwise suspenseful reading.

  3. GAH! I could never read the ending before reading the book! I really need to be kept in suspense to keep myself motivated to read. I will skip to the end though if I'm DNFing a book in the off chance it might encourage me to finish it. Most of the time though it just reaffirms my decision to stop reading :P

  4. Sometimes I read the end if the tension is getting too great (not knowing if someone dies for example). I don't care what the outcome is, I just want to know so I won't be distracted from the reading. I don't think there's a "good" or "bad" practice here, although some authors who want you to be surprised might disagree. Experiencing surprises is not my main reason for reading books, I suppose.

  5. It depends on what the spoiler is. A major character dying and as morbid as it sounds, it's something I want to discover for myself. I think that emotional lead in to a character dying can make or break a narration. If it's a book I'm not really enjoying, I might flick to the last few chapters and skim so I know I didn't miss out on anything but for me reading is about the discovery. You're not alone though. I've got quite a few reading friends who ask me to spoil books for them. TV shows are a definite no no though.


Thanks for reading! It makes my day to hear your thoughts and I will respond asap. :)