I flip to the end of books all the time but especially when things are getting exciting. It’s counter-intuitive I’ve been told, to leave the action and head straight for the denouement but I do this all the time, almost every time. Fight scene in progress? Lemme quickly flip a couple pages on to see who dies. Love triangle developing? The last page should clear things up. Who the heck dunit? Be spoiled my friend, and let that last page reveal all.
When I’m not reading a book for review, I also flip to the end of books when things are really slow-going and I want to be put out of my misery. A few random stops throughout the book usually give me a good idea whether it’s worth continuing or not. I say ‘random’ but that’s only partially correct. If I’m reading a romance and it’s ho-hum for me, one of my stops as I flip through the book is at a sex scene. If it’s as ho-hum as the rest of the book (“…and then two became one”) or I don’t like the writer’s style (“Oh my delectable sweet”, murmured Hero), that’s a check mark in the negative column. But if the sex scene looks to be romantic or otherwise engaging, I’ll give the book a second chance.
Sometimes, when I skip through or to the end of a book, characters are mentioned who haven’t been introduced yet or the setting is such that my interest in the book is piqued and I return to my spot re-energized. Sometimes though, the ending is so silly that I give the book up for lost and move on to the next. Either way, I feel as if it all worked out in the end. I either continue a good book I may have otherwise stopped reading or I stop a bad book I may otherwise have continued reading. Whatever the outcome, justice is served.
Now, from personal experience, I know that people feel really strongly about readers who skip to the end or *gasp* skip pages. It’s literary sacrilege I’ve been told. It means I’m lacking intelligence. How can I possible enjoy the book knowing what’s coming?
Well, if the alternative is me wondering through the whole 300+ pages about who dies, who gets the girl or indeed who killed her, then I will always choose to enjoy my spoilers and skim that last page. In addition, I never understand why people get so worked up if I skip to the end or not. Why take it personally?
I am also a comfortable scene-skipper. The author may find those mini-chapters dealing with a secondary character intriguing or the character may be a stenographer in the Middle Ages with a keen eye for detail but if I’m not interested, then I’m not reading it. This means that I flip past most fight scenes in novels. I really don’t care who hit whom where and how many shots were fired and what is bleeding and where they ran to hide.
After the dust settles, did anybody die? Is anybody in hospital? These are the things that concern me.
What about you? Do you flip through the book or skip scenes outright?
– Abi Bishop