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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To peek or not to peek--Kandy Shepherd






Do you flip to the last pages of a book and read the ending first?

My answer is a resounding “never”. I start at page one and keep turning the pages in orderly fashion one by one until I reach THE END. The need to know what happens at the end is what propels me through the story. It’s all about the anticipation and suspense. I want to enjoy the journey all the way through those pages--particularly in a thriller or mystery; even in a romance when the genre promises a guaranteed happy-ever-after conclusion.

By
staying ignorant of the ending, I want to give the author the opportunity to surprise me. That’s what keeps me up way too late at night promising myself I’ll just read to the end of the chapter. And then the next. That’s what has me saying, “Yes, I know you all want dinner but I really have to know what happens here…”

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a good ending or a bad ending—I don’t want to know about it until I’m meant to. I don’t like spoilers. I don’t like back cover blurb that gives away too much of the plot. I’m not much or a “re-reader”, rarely revisiting books unless it’s been so long I’ve forgotten how it ends.

But not everyone feels the same. On a quick, random survey of my
avid reader friends, I was stunned to find how many of them often read the end of a book long before they finished the story. “First page, last page then the rest,” said one. “I just don’t want to wait to see what happens,” said another.

That’s not to say I haven’t flicked through a book I’ve found really boring just to see what happened before I threw it at the wall. And it’s not that sometimes I don’t nibble at dessert before the entrée...

As long as we enjoy the book it doesn't matter how we get there.

How about you? Do you read the ending first? Or not? Please leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of my contemporary romance trade paperback HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS (which has a fun ending that can be enjoyed at any time!) and include your email address if you want to be in the draw.

39 comments:

Annie West said...

Hi Kandy,

I'm with you. I leave the end till the end. Though I must admit in the past I did once or twice read the last page just to check the heroine ended up with the right person! These days - no.

Please don't include me in the draw for HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. I've read it and loved it! It's a witty, heart-warming read that really made me feel warm and fuzzy. It's a keeper on my bookshelf and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Kandy.

I'm hanging my head here. When I was a kid, I loved those Choose Your Own Adventure books. If I remember correctly, you could end up with two or three different endings. So...I'd have a sneaky peek at the back of the book to see which adventure would give me the happiest ending!

Before Brutus from Love is a Four-Legged Word howls at me, I have to say I grew out of this habit long ago. The lovely thing about reading romance is that you're always going to get a happy ending--or the promise of one, as is the case in the YA world.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Annie, thanks for the nice words about HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, so glad it found a home on your keeper shelf!
The more I talk to people, the more I realize there are a whole lot of sneak-a-peek at the end readers. Even if, like you, they've grown out of the habit!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Vanessa, no hanging of heads here! So long as we enjoy a book I don't think it matters how we got there...
And, yes, that is a lovely thing about a romance isn't it--we know that there will be a happy ending with the hero and heroine together, the fun of it is finding out how they get there. YA, too, with the promise of all those possibilities.

Sharon Archer said...

Shock, horror!
Peeking?
Never!
And I can't remember doing it as a kid either - I was way too good at delayed gratification... actually, I'm turning over a new leaf - ENJOY IT NOW! Hey, in the interests of new-leafdom... maybe I *should* start peeking!
;)
Sharon

Laurie G said...

I never read the ending first. It would take away my interest in reading the whole story. I know reading a romance will give me a HEA ending so I don't need to cheat and look ahead.

I haven't read any of your books yet.

johnslake at usa dot com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Sharon, it sounds like you are looking forward to a new illicit past-time of peeking. Taken out of our "reading books" context your new-leafdom could sound rather naughty!
Thanks for calling by!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Laurie G, I'm with you re those endings, especially in a romance. Like all the romance authors I know, I work hard to give my readers a few twists and turns along the way to that happy ending!

ev said...

Like you I only read the end when the rest of it stinks and I just can't finish it.

and I seldom re-read. I have never understood, with all the other books out there to read the first time, how anyone can find time to re-read a book.

Kandy Shepherd said...

I'm with you Ev, about the re-reading, I would so much rather dive into a brand new story! I don't often watch a movie twice either!

traveler said...

I always read from the beginning and anticipate the entire book which makes reading so worthwhile. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Lil said...

I don't read the ending until I get there. However, I do flip through a book and read a few excerpts in making my decision to purchase a book. After that, I read from beginning of the story to the end.

Becky said...

I have never read the ending first. If I ever read the ending first, I probably wouldn't read the story, since I already know what happens.

beckyqward(at)gmail(dot)com

runner10 said...

I NEVER read the ending first.
csdsksds[at]gmail[dot]com

Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, what a fun post! Actually I'm with you - I never read the ending first. I don't even read the first page before I buy the book - it's a total immersion experience from me, first page to last page. If I'm lucky, in one gulp! Love sending the rest of the world away while I live in the book's world for a while. Especially if it's a great book. Hey, Home Is Where the Bark Is is such fun!!! Whoever wins it is in for such a treat!

petite said...

I would only read any book in its entirety from the onset and never peek into the end. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

desere_steenberg said...

HI Kandy,

I am with you and Anna, I don't read the ending first I did when I started reading but this was after I read a very good book that had a terrible ending (it was a romance and the couple split up)so I use to read the ending first but then after about 3 reads I realized that a book is much like life and you have to expect the unexpected and just see what happens so I stopped reading the ending and now the closes I get to "the juice in the story " is the little excerpt that some books have in the front.

Nice post Home is where the Bark is sounds lovely!

desere_steenberg@yahoo.com

Janni Nell said...

I never ever peep at the ending of books I'm enjoying. The surprise of the ending is half the fun of reading. But...if I'm not enjoying a book, I sometimes flip straight to the end.

Estella said...

I'm with you. I read all of the book to get to the ending.
I never reread a book on purpose.

kissinoak at frontier dot com

TashNz said...

oooohhhhh - yes I do - I just cant help myself! I always hope that by the time I get to the end I have forgotten what the last page said :) I was also one of those naughty children who opened their presents under the christmas tree before I was supposed to... now that my kids do it I realise HOW my mum always noticed heheheh

tashnz75 (at) gmail dot com :)

Kandy Shepherd said...

Anticipation certainly makes the reading compelling, doesn't it Traveler? Knowing the ending ruins it for me!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Yes, Lil, I think some sampling before purchase is a good idea. I like to read sample chapters on websites, too.

Kandy Shepherd said...

I echo you exactly, Becky.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Me too, runner10.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Total immersion! So true, Anna, that is by far the best way to read a book (in an ideal, interruption-free world!)
I've just started your MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION and am beyond annoyed that "duties" are getting in the way of me totally immersing myself in the passionate, Regency world it evokes. But I'm not tempted to flip through to find how Antonia and Ranelaw get to their happy-ever-after ending! I want to enjoy the journey...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Another vote for "not to peek", Petite. Not that I'm taking a poll!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Good point, Desere--about "expecting the unexpected".
And isn't it a downer when a book you believe is marketed as a romance has a miserable ending with the couple splitting up or, worse, dying!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Sounds like we are both on the same page Janni!

Kandy Shepherd said...

I sometimes wonder, Estella, why I have such a big "keeper shelf" when I so rarely re-read a book. I think it's because I just like to see them there and remember what a happy time I had reading a special book. And to loan to other people of course and excite them about a new-to-them author or genre!

Kandy Shepherd said...

LOL, TashNz, I love your joy in your naughtiness! Yay for a vote for "to peek"!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Kandy, cool about reading MWP!!! Have fun!

Jo's Daughter said...

Peek? Never! I totally agree, it's the build up of the story. You don't want to ruin it.

No, I always follow the numbers on the pages in order as a guide, to which part I read first.

(Already own, read & love your book so don't enter me.)

Kandy Shepherd said...

Yep, start at Page 1 and keep reading, that's what I do too, Jo's Daughter. Thanks so much for your kind words about HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. So glad you enjoyed it--because I sure enjoyed writing it!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thank you all for sharing your peeking or not peeking reading habits with me!
The winner of the signed copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is Desere. Please send me your snail mail address and I'll get you off a copy asap.

desere_steenberg said...

Hi Kandy,

Your so right it is a complete downer when I read a book marked as romance ends up being such a disappointment when they split up or like you said worse on half of the couple dies.

It is like renting a romance movie and it ends up being a drama !

Thanks for a fun post !
All the best
Desere

desere_steenberg said...

I am so silly I only now saw the comment that I am the winner ! Thank you so much your a angel you made my year !!

Thank you very much I have mailed you my mailing address details !

Best,
Desere

Pat Cochran said...

I'm with you, too, Kandy! I don't buy
a book just to read one page! I could
not read any of the book once knowing
how it ends! It would be a great waste
of the author's time and effort if all
we were going to read only one page!
Even I would be an author if all I had
to do was write an ending!!

Pat Cochran

marybelle said...

I could NEVER read the ending first, it would spoil the story for me. Totally!!

marypres@gmail.com

Michele L. said...

Reading the ending would spoil the whole book for me! I like the challenges, twists and turns that take me to the ending. Like the Harry Potter series, which I have reread a couple times now, I never once peeked at the end of each book. There was so much excitement going on that the end would have really ruined the story.