Is Peeking at the Ending a Bad Reading Habit?

15:00 Cilla P 22 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? 

22 comments:

  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!

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    1. That's a good way of doing it! I would do it too, to make sure I'm not investing time and energy in something I'd dislike.

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  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.

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    1. Peeking at the ending is kind of a risky thing to do that way!

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  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

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    1. Haha that's fair enough! I think if a book doesn't work for you after a while, it probably won't get any better. :D

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  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.

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    1. Oooh yes, sometimes I do that too so I can concentrate on the writing and not rush towards the solution of the mystery. And I agree with you - being surprised isn't always what I'm looking for when I read a book.

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  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.

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    1. That makes sense! :) I've never minded spoilers for TV shows either, come to think of it. That's just because I'm really bad at keeping up with the shows though!

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  6. I get what you're saying about how most books are predictable anyway, but there are some that aren't! And gah, no! I don't think I've ever flipped to the ending first! But if other people want to do that, it doesn't affect me in any, so it's not like I have any problem with it. It's definitely not for me though!

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    1. Haha that's fair enough! :D We all have different preferences in reading.

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  7. When I was younger, I really loved peeking at the ending! But as I grew up, I read more books that really relied on you getting through the journey to fully appreciate the ending - so now, I really try not to peek! But it can be hard.. :'(

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    1. I think I've gone in the opposite direction :P And lol, I know what you mean - it's hard to resist!

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  8. I always do this since as long as I could remember xD Idk I just want to know whether this book will be worth my time and it actually makes me more excited to read the book bc I need to know how things could get there :D I don't mind spoilers in general, but I do admit they take away the wow factor of certain things.

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

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    1. Haha if it works for you then that's a good thing! I know what you mean, sometimes knowing the end would make the journey more fun :D

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  9. I'm guilty of doing this xD I wouldn't buy the book if the ending is bad. One of the reasons I stop reading Divergent is because Tris dies lol.

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    1. I never read Divergent, but that's a good enough reason to not pick it up!

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  10. I don't read the ending first, but I am starting to see how sometimes it might not be that bad. There are times when I've been slightly spoiled for a book and knowing one aspect of what happens doesn't ruin it for me because I then spend the book trying to figure out how or why that thing happens. Of course, if it's a big twist, it can be really frustrating to know ahead of time, but sometimes it's not so bad.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I see what you mean! It can be something that depends on what the plot twist or turn is. :D

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  11. I used to do this constantly. I couldn't read a book without peeking at the last page. But, thankfully, I grew out of it and now I really enjoy reading books without knowing what'll happen. I still can't believe I used to actually read books while knowing how it would end.

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    1. If that works for you, that's excellent! ^_^

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