so sue me read the ends of books first.

[Waiting for the shock and confusion to subside.]

First, I should say that I don’t read a lot of fiction; my preferences run to sociology, psychology, history, and that sort of of thing. The fiction I do read is generally written by a small group of favorite authors: Rex Stout and Ngaio Marsh in particular. These are mysteries, and the authors are known quantities, so I don’t need or want to know the endings.

However, when I start reading a fiction book that’s an unknown quantity — say, a new thriller by Thomas Harris — then I want to know it will be worth my time. And by that, I mean I want to know that a primary character I’ve learned to care about during the course of reading won’t be dispatched in an ugly fashion in the last few pages.

Take the new Harry Potter book, for example. (And no, I am not going to give away the ending.) Why in the world should I devote 15-20 hours of my life to reading it if I know it ends with Harry, Ron, and/or Hermione splattered all over the walls of Hogwarts by a well-aimed Voldemort curse? My son and husband brought home a copy from a lovely midnight party held at Destinations Booksellers, and the next morning my son was kind enough to release it from his grip just long enough for me to read about half of the last chapter and the epilogue. Thus informed, I was able to make my decision about whether I’ll read the book.

You see, I read books for the same reason I go to movies: for diversion and enjoyment. (Yes, I find out the ends of questionable films, too, before I spend hard-earned money only to be devastated by an unexpected turn of events. Thank goodness for I do not read or go to movies to experience wrenching emotional moments or sob at the loss of a beloved character (or their child, or their pet). Some people find sad or otherwise emotionally overwrought books and films cathartic and speak happily about how much they cried after reading or seeing such-and-such (the movie Terms of Endearment comes to mind). All I have to say to that is, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Call me twisted, call me a wimp, but I like to know that all is well — in advance!

6 responses to “so sue me

  1. You know I’ve never seen an opera where I didn’t know the ending well in advance of taking my seat, and in college I read King Lear so many times I began to empathize with the “evil” daughters.

  2. I don’t read the ends of novels, but I love to cheat at video games, and a lot of people don’t seem to get that. I’m playing the game for the story (they have stories nowdays) and if a puzzle is too complicated or I can’t get a maneuver right, I’ll go look up the answers or the cheat codes that get me past that spot so I can continue to enjoy the story. Annoyance is not fun.

  3. For some reason I’m not sure of, it doesn’t bother me to know the ending of a novel or movie. If I’m interested in the characters, I’ll enjoy it regardless.

  4. I finished it this morning. It has lots of ups and downs. Of course since I’ve been called an emotional roller coaster it was perfect for me! In some ways I thought it was one of the better books in the series. It reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading the other books. (Though I could have skipped 6.) I may find the time to reread them someday. Or maybe not.

  5. I finished it and I thought it ended poorly. It’s definitely much more marketable that way, but as an example of writing good fiction, it doesn’t end the way it should, in my opinion.

    Still, I like my endings intact, even if they’re bad. I went to the ballet once to see Anna Karenina and in the notes they indicated the ending which kind of threw the whole thing off for me. Of course, at this point in my life, I probably should’ve read Anna Karenina and I would’ve know what I was getting into…but still, don’t ruin it for the uninformed.

    So, in that vein, check out my Spoiler-Free Movie reviews (plug) at my website…and Tiffany, if you want to know how one ends, I’ll be happy to email you.

  6. Hey Tiffany! You are editing an article of mine for StudioB right now, so thought I would check out your website. Very cool.

    Also, I TOTALLY agree with you about the reading-the-end thing. The first thing I did when one of my kids bought the new Harry Potter book is read the last three pages.

    All the best,


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