Do You Like to Be Spoiled?


Let’s get this out of the way first thing: I love to be spoiled. In fact, I frequently beg people at AAR for spoilers before I’ll take a risk on reading a book by a new-to-me author.  A large part of why I read reviews is for spoilers about books. Now I’m not talking about the HEA – in a true romance that’s a given. My desire for romance spoilers is for plot points or character devices that don’t work for me, either ever, or given my state of mind.

But with my non-romance reading, and even chick lit and women’s fiction, the HEA is not assumed; I became an end-peeker for this very reason. After having one too many lovers of beloved mystery characters killed off, I had to become an end-peeker; not to discover “who done it,” but to make certain all my favorite characters were still alive at the end.

But end-peeking just isn’t quite as easy when reading eBooks or listening to audiobooks. Quite frankly, I don’t have the patience to insert the final CD, fast forward, and listen to the last few minutes on a regular basis. And don’t get me started on how confusing it is in mp3 format.  I’ve tried it, but it took a lot of effort to end up in exactly the right spot. And it’s pretty tedious to page ahead to the end of an e-book, read the last few pages, and then attempt to find my original place again (because I don’t end-peek just initially, I end-peek throughout a book as I’m introduced to more characters).

Because of this difficulty, I tend to be rather cautious in my non-romance selections for e-books and audiobooks. I generally go with authors I trust; authors who won’t kill off key characters or provide unwelcome surprises. But every once in awhile I get adventurous.

On a recommendation from a friend, I recently listened to Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble while commuting to and from work. I found it to be an enjoyable book – pretty much in line with the review here at AAR. I had been feeling very stressed out, and a light book was exactly what I needed. In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I picked up the audio version of Queen of Babble Gets Hitched, assuming it was the second in the series.

Fortunately, I happened to read the review for Queen of Babble Gets Hitched before I began listening (only to discover if Lizzie and Luke got married in France). Imagine my shock when I discovered that in this book – actually the third, not second, in the series – Lizzie and Luke have broken up, and she’s potentially interested in Chaz, who was her best friend’s lover in the first book in the series. Rather than listen to the book, I returned it to the library the next day.  Chaz seemed like a nice character, but I wasn’t ready for the angst of Lizzie and Luke breaking up. I liked Luke!

Since then, I’ve thought about the third book from time to time, and wondered if I’ve made a mistake. Did I let the spoiler get the better of me? Do I need to be more adventurous in my audiobooks and e-books, and just take a chance on surprises?

How about you? Do you like to be spoiled? If so, what type of information do you want before you read a book? And do you peek ahead? If so, once, twice, or too many times to count?

- LinnieGayl AAR

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34 Responses to Do You Like to Be Spoiled?

  1. Tee says:

    No, no, no—I hate spoilers. It truly “spoils” the story for me. I get so irritated when spoilers are leaked on the message boards. Many times the posters don’t even realize that their messages contain them. They’ve become so comfortable with the story and the ongoing discussions that these tidbits of information are dropped and can ruin the book for me.

    I love the journey of the story and want to be surprised, along with the characters, especially if there is a twist at the end. Of course, romance books usually don’t have that kind of ending, so I don’t think many of them can be spoiled. But you never know. There can be twists in the middle that each reader should be able to discover on their own without someone else foretelling.

    If a person can’t help but spill it all, then at least they should have the courtesy to warn of “spoilers ahead” so that those of us who abhor them can avoid them.

  2. Sarah A says:

    I hate spoilers, too. It took me a while, when I recently started reading romances, to get over the fact that they all end HEA, so I didn’t really need to worry about THAT spoiler (it was a huge relief to NOT have to worry about having the outcome spoiled :-)). For my non-romance reading, I dislike spoilers so much that if I don’t read my book club book, I try to sing la-la-la in my head while people talk about the book so I don’t have it spoiled for me (though you notice, it’s not an option for me NOT go to book club :-)). I agree that “spoilers ahead” is key for happy co-existence among book-site frequenters …

  3. Lynn M says:

    I like spoilers for my favorite TV shows but I’m not a big end-reader when it comes to books, nor do I really want spoilers that will potentially reveal a great plot twist. If I’m 99% sure I’m going to read the book, I avoid reviews just so I won’t get spoiled (Harry Potter books, Hunger Games trilogy). But if I start a book and get the feeling I probably won’t finish it, I’ll either skim or skip or hunt down spoilers. I do really love that out-of-left-field feeling when I read a great plot twist, so I don’t want to know in advance how it all ends up.

    Like I said, TV shows are a completely different story. If I love a show, I’m going to watch it regardless of what I do or don’t know. So I’m always anxious to find out as much as I can as soon as I can. Even spoilers don’t diminish the viewing experience for me – I’m still shocked/surprised/horrified when the event happens on the screen even though I’ve been warned.

  4. Sandy AAR says:

    I don’t like book spoilers and try to avoid them. I do, however, like TV spoilers – and part of the fun of it to me is because about 80% of them turn out to be wrong. Part of the game to me.

    About 10 years or so ago I saw The Manchurian Candidate for the first time (the original – let’s not discuss the remake) on video on a Saturday night. It absolutely blew me away and it’s still the best thriller I’ve ever seen. Anyhoo, the moment when a certain actress turns to a certain actor and delivers a certain line remains my greatest moment of shock ever in a movie and it would have been ruined if I knew. That Sunday morning, still reeling from the experience, the Washington Post reviewed the video and GAVE AWAY the surprise. I couldn’t believe it. The movie would have been ruined for me if I had known when I watched it the night before.

  5. I like spoilers too, though I try not to drop them myself since I know others don’t always like them. I do prefer to hunt spoilers out rather than having someone suddenly drop them on me. It’s nice to get a “spoiler” notice in a discussion board so you know exactly where to look or stay away, depending on your mood!

    Like you, LinnieGayl, when I’m reading for fun, I sometimes want to know if a story is going to take a turn I won’t enjoy. For the last Harry Potter book, I was a big-time end-peeker (and back-and-forth peeker, too).

    Spoilers aren’t so much of an issue for most romance, since it’s pretty clear from the back cover copy who the H and H are. I can pretty much roll with any plot element as long as there’s an HEA!

  6. Becky says:

    I need a spoiler if a central figure in the book is an animal…dog, cat, horse, etc. I won’t read the book if the animal dies. I know, you are probably thinking I am missing out on a lot of great reads, but I have read several books where this happens and it has totally ruined the book for me. The same goes for movies…I just can’t do it!

    Other than than, I will occasionally end peek, or just flip ahead a few pages sometimes. Usually I prefer to read the book without spoilers.

  7. Victoria S says:

    LinnieGayl, I LOVE spoilers. I too am an end-peeker. While it’s true HEA is a given in romance, if I think the story starts going in a direction that might turn out to be different from what I am hoping for….I turn to the end so fast the pages flipping make a hurricane! I am new to e-books (my Kindle being on order) and no end-peeking is a big concern of mine :-). If it is a new-to-me author, I especially like spoilers. I like to know what I’m in for in a book. Not necessarily the entire plot, but a good idea of what’s coming. And since I re-read I cannot truly claim to not like spoilers. I have read “Lord of Scoundrels, Private Arrangements, The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie” and others, so many times, I can recite entire pages of dialogue. With that being said, how can I, in good conscience claim I don’t like spoilers????

  8. MB says:

    The way you felt about the changes to the Queen of Babble series is kind of the way I felt about Hester Browne’s ‘The Little Lady Agency’ series, as well as Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stockhouse series, and (a looong time back) Margaret Maron’s Sigrid Harald series.

    I was invested in the romance with the first man and once he was killed off–or otherwise shuffled off the page–I felt let down and lost some enthusiasm for the rest of the series. I understand when an author gets tired of a character and wants to change it up, but I as the reader, don’t always feel like the changes worked for me.

  9. Eggletina says:

    Generally, I’m not bothered by spoilers. I try to be courteous about not revealing anything too spoilery when I’m talking about what I’m reading with other people. However, I also try to avoid reading too many reviews before I pick up a book. I don’t want other people’s opinions to interfere with my own reading of a book, so I often wait until after I’ve read a book to read the full-length/in depth book reviews. I’ll scan them, looking for what they are about, types of characters, and themes the author may be exploring, but try to limit myself to that type of information before reading. That said… I hate it when people agree to read and then discuss a book, but still walk on egg shells about plot points because they don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book but is peaking in the book discussion thread. You cannot discuss a book in any satisfactory way by doing that, and it sends me into a tailspin of fury when that happens on book forums.

  10. MMcA says:

    I’m in the hate spoilers club. I reread a lot, so understand you can enjoy a book even when you know every detail, but I like my first read unspoilt. Ideally, I like to read a book with as few preconceptions as possible – I’d rather not have read reviews, blurbs, excerpts, opinions – so it’s just the author writing for me. You often have to read those things to find good books, of course, but the less I know the better. (Love reading reviews afterwards, though.)

    And while I take your point that there’s the occasional book that you mightn’t bother with if you knew what was coming, I’d rather suffer through those in order to have the rare book that surprises me in a good way. There’s a moment in some early series of the West Wing where someone shows a map of the world the wrong way up, then makes the point that it’s equally valid. That was the first time I heard that idea, and it just knocked my mental socks off for a minute, while my brain rearranged itself to cope with the thought. I love it when that happens in my reading material – when I’m genuinely surprised, and scrambling to keep up.

  11. Leigh says:

    Yes and No. . .

    I want spoilers on deal breakers . . . like a couple breaking up, or divorcing or a heroine picks the other guy, but I don’t want to know everything.

    I do get frustrated when a review goes into minute detail. I then feel why read the book when I know everything that happens.

    I typically don’t read the end of a romance book. . . HEA is suppose to be a given. If I do read the end of a book in the store (mainly because the HEA is suspect) then I would say a good 65% of the time I don’t get the book. . .

    I think it boils down to trust. If I read the end then I really don’t trust the author. If I feel like I need to get spoilers on a romance book, then again it because I don’t trust the author.

    If there is book that I am ambivalent about and it received a bad review, then I will ask for spoilers to see if what got the book the low grade is a deal breaker for me.

  12. bavarian says:

    Though my romance books all have their HAE, I just have to read the last page at the latest after I’ve read the first pages. Usually that doesn’t disturb my pleasure in reading the book. I simply need the certainty that all goes well for the protagonists.
    Lately I’m getting a bit more cautious about how many pages I shuffle through at the end. I like to read romantic suspense and recently I came about the villain who was a great surprise and so it was a big spoiler to know who it was. Now I’m mostly happy to read the epilogue.

  13. Beth W says:

    Hate, hate, hate spoilers. I don’t even like to read reviews until after I’ve read the book. It’s just not the same otherwise. TV shows I’m not quite as fervent about, but I’d still rather be unspoiled.

    It’s funny, because a good friend that I share a lot of books with loves spoilers. So if I’ve read the book first, or seen the TV show, she always wants me to tell her what’s going to happen, and I never want to tell her. Drives her nuts that I won’t tell her but I feel like I’m committing a mortal sin if I do.

  14. Carrie says:

    I don’t mind spoilers for the most part, and often read ahead in a book. Mostly I read ahead when the book feels slow and I want to know if it seems to pick up. Or I might read ahead if the suspense is getting the better of me (I read a lot of romantic suspense) and I’m worried about a character. ;-) Even though I know there is usually an HEA, I do sometimes read the ending if one or the other main character is being a real jerk and I want to see if they grovel sufficiently for me to continue with the book. Insufficient groveling is a real deal-breaker for me.

    Like you, reading an ebook or listening to an audiobook makes this almost impossible. And, like you, I pick my audiobooks and ebooks very carefully. One other reason I choose audiobooks carefully is because a book can be worth reading, but still move slowly in spots. In these cases I like to skim or speed-read sections. Not possible with an audiobook. I think I mostly enjoy audiobooks for light reading, or for “rereading” a book I’ve enjoyed in print. I’m working through Georgette Heyer’s books on audio right now and it’s such fun. And not long ago I listened to Carnal Innocence (thank you Gamatst) on audio after reading it a year or so ago. It was wonderful!

  15. MarySkl says:

    I hate spoilers. Until a few years ago, I was not even aware that some people look at the back of the book first!!! Having said that, I have accidentally spoiled books for a few people. My daughter will not even let me talk to her about a book until she tells me she is finished. She was reading Of Mice and Men and I THOUGHT she was through! I asked her what she thought about George killing Lennie. Well…needless to say she had not read that part yet.

  16. maggie b. says:

    It depends. In the book “The English Patient” you were not sure of who the patient was until the end. In the movie, they ruin that for you. I didn’t like that kind of spoiler, where there is a reason for the character to be a mystery or for a mystery to exist (like in “The Crying Game”) and that sense of surprise is lost.

    I don’t like when people give away an ending that is not expected (like in “Of Mice and Men”. ;-)

    I found out the WHOLE plot of Harry Potter 7 a few hours before I got the book. Boy was I peeved!

    But I was glad to know before hand that Brockmann had gone in an entirely different direction in Troubleshooters “Dark of Night” or whatever book it was. I would have HATED not getting that warning in advance.

    I also want to know if kids or animals will be killed in a story. You don’t have to tell me who, just warn me that some images might be offensive kind of thing, so I know to be aware.

    So I mostly like spoilers unless the plot hinges on the surprise.

    maggie b.

  17. It depends. I sometimes ask for spoilers on “big secret” stories because I’ve been burned so often. The back cover will make it sound she is concealing something scandalous and horrific, and then it turns out that she didn’t want the hero to find out she was nearsighted or something. Gah! A plot like that ruins a book faster than a spoiler. :)

    I don’t like getting spoilers about thrillers and mysteries, but sometimes I’ll read it anyway if it’s intriguing enough. And sometimes a spoiler will make me want to read (or watch) something I was hesitating about because I know that if the writer is brazen enough to do *that* to their characters, then this will be an interesting book.

    Also, sometimes reading or watching something and knowing the big twist makes it more interesting. I can watch little things I might have missed if I didn’t already know that so-and-so was the villain or the creature didn’t really exist or whatever. In college, I helped do the props for an Agatha Christie adaptation. Although I learned who the killer was from watching rehearsals, I still read the book the play was based on, and I caught lots of cool clues I would have otherwise missed. It was fun!

  18. erika says:

    Love, love luuuv spoilers. I’m a very particular reader with lots of deal breakers and no longer buy a book based on the blurb at its back.

  19. CindyS says:

    I won’t read anything about a book I know I’m going to read – so no reviews (I will look at the grade), no excerpts, nothing.

    If the author is changing (J.R Ward, Linda Howard) I then start reading reviews and spoilers to see if the change I have perceived continues or if the books are reverting back to something I might like to read.

    I used to end peak but don’t any more – not sure why. I do end peak if I get to a part where I realize I have no clue who the ‘other’ is – eg Hero and sometimes I’m not happy with the choice.

    I’ve only ever ruined one book by end peaking and that’s just a blip in my reading.

    And I’ve discovered lately that I hate spoilers for TV and movies. I will ask about gore factor in movies because I can’t stomach that kind of stuff but other than that, I want to be surprised. As we get older I think it gets harder and harder to surprise ourselves so having something open you up is a gift and one I don’t want spoiled.

    I also hate knowing what I’m going to get for Christmas ;)


  20. Daz says:

    Oh yes, give me a spoiler any day. I bought a book because I enjoyed the 1st book in the series. The 2nd book was okay and being a little OCD and liking my sets I went for the 3rd book. If only I had read a spoiler for the 3rd book … I would not have bothered to buy it. The heroine decided to convince her boyfriend that having sex with a “client” and being paid for it because she was a “professional sex therapist” did not make her a prostitute. That really, really pissed me off, plus it was badly written with way too many urban myths woven into the story to make it laughable. Give me a spoiler any day. Now I check reviews from websites, blogs and even Amazon before I buy a book.

  21. LinnieGayl says:

    Really interesting comments, everyone. At first most everyone said they hated spoilers, so I thought I was alone :)) Now it’s more of a mix of people who hate spoilers, love spoilers, or want spoilers in certain circumstances.

    I do try to avoid giving spoilers to people unless they ask. But what I don’t understand, is people who will not give a spoiler to me, even when I beg. A former colleague finished a book that I had thought about reading, but I’d heard there might be a plot point that I knew would ruin the book for me. So, I asked her for details, and she refused, said that was the “joy of reading” and that I just needed to read it (1,000+ pages) to find out for myself. Umm… nope, didn’t read it, and it’s still in my TBR pile.

  22. Pat says:

    KINDLE SPOILER: How to end read quickly and easily on a Kindle 1 (I don’t have my K3 yet, so I’m not sure if it’s done the same on it):

    * Bookmark your page! (This is so you can come back and keep reading on the same page after you’ve read the end.)

    * If there are chapters with links, go to the last chapter, read it, and then go back to your bookmarked page. (How can I tell if there are chapters with links? Click on Menu. Table of Contents will be dark. Click on it. And then page through to get the last chapter listing.)

    * If there aren’t chapters with links, go to the location screen, subtract 500 to 1000 from the highest location number, type the answer into the “Go to Location” line, and start reading. (How to find the location screen? Click on Menu. Click on Go to Location.)

    Oh, yes, did I mention that I know all of this because I’m someone who reads the end if I’m not sure about where the author is taking me or if I’ve got a lot invested in a character who looks like the angel of death is following him/her?

    SPOILER about spoilers: Yup, I love them especially if I’m trying to find out the brutality rating of a book. I stopped reading mysteries when one featured a step-by-step look at flaying a woman. I wish I’d known so I could have avoided the book. But like many of you, I refuse to give spoilers unless asked.

  23. xina says:

    I sometimes seek out spoilers. When Marley and Me first came out there wasn’t a lot of buzz about the book. I went in the bookstore and found it. Book in hand I asked the salesperson if the dog dies in the end. She shook her head and said she wouldn’t tell me. I told I had to know and I was going to buy the book anyway. She very reluctantly told me. I had to know that detail. I did buy the book…enjoyed it, but really skimmed over that scene. As for romance novels, I am end reader quite a bit. Now that I am reading many of my books on an Ipad…I can’t peek as easily. Sure, it’s possible, but not as easy to do. I don’t mind spoilers in TV shows or movies either. I have found in my group of reading friends and family that either you are an end-peeker, or you aren’t. The group that doesn’t peek is shocked at the peekers, because they would never, ever read the ending. Ah well, I do from time to time.

  24. Ann Stephens says:

    It’s funny, I hate spoilers for movies, but have been known to peek at the last few pages of books, especially mysteries. (I know, I know…that sorta defeats the purpose of a whodunit, but sometimes I can’t stop myself :) )

  25. elainec says:

    Before I started reading romances, my fictional choices were mostly mysteries. I’d read the first chapter and, then, the last chapter. Then , I would read the book all the way through. I hated the suspense and even terror of reading them without peeking. It’s probably why I rarely read suspense novels.

    This blog sure shows the meaning of “To Each His Own” or “Different Strokes…”. It’s been fun to read.

  26. Katrina says:

    I *hate* spoilers for books I want to read. If I have no interest in reading it, I love a spoiler because it gives me a fuller picture of the story.

    The only exception is when I’m reading a romance late at night and I’m getting sleepy, and I want to find out whether there’s a sex scene coming up worth staying up for. Then I’ll flip ahead until I find a sexy word and negotiate with myself and my fatigue.

  27. hilly says:

    Oh, thank goodness I’m not alone in preferring spoilers!

    Yes! I’ve always peeked at the endings of books and I read movie reviews hoping that they’ll tell me something of value in advance.

    Moreover, I have no hesitation in applying the “page 178″ rule (the one where you open up a book to a middle section and read a page or two to learn if the author’s voice and plot engages your interest).

    Here’s a point to ponder: Do the folks who prefer spoilers also dislike rollercoasters, as do I?

  28. bavarian says:

    I should add something to my earlier comment: I read the end, I read some later parts when the book is too full of suspense or it’s too slow.
    But I hate it when others tell me spoilers. Perhaps I want to decide by myself which spoilers I need? The peeking in the middle, the certainty that a certain person doesn’t suffer…

  29. Oh, put me in the I Love Spoilers camp too! After a traumatic reading experience with R.L. Stine when I was in middle school, I haven’t been able to read a book without peeking at the back first. (The narrator DIED halfway through the book, only to be replaced by her best friend. It was awful.) In that vein, I also find it hard to start non-Romance series before the last one has been written, because I like to know that everything works out before making an emotional investment in the characters.

    All that being said though, I think you *may* have missed out with Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble series. I normally hate when writers switch up love interests after the first installment, but she did a terrific job with it. By the end of book two, I was cheering for Chaz and wishing Luke would go jump off a cliff. Yet, Cabot hadn’t changed their characterizations at all, just showed different sides of them. It was brilliantly written and remains my favorite of her series.

  30. msaggie says:

    I love spoilers too! But it depends on the genre I am reading. I usually peek at the end of romances – especially if there is a love triangle and I want to find out who the heroine ends up with (I don’t want to be gutted if I root for the wrong guy). However, when I am reading mystery novels, I tend not to peek, as then when I find out whodunnit too early, it’s no longer a mystery and I might as well stop reading.

    Is there a personality trait that makes some of us spoiler-friendly? I wonder if we are more control-freaks, or more keen to avoid disappointment (even in our fiction-reading), less of risk-takers emotionally (we don’t want to waste our emotion on the “wrong” character who “loses” or gets killed off)?

  31. elainec says:

    Re: msaggie’s post
    I never thought of it that way – as being a control-freak or avoiding disappointment, but that probably is true of me. You’ve got real insight into this.
    This has been an interesting dialogue. I’m glad you began it, Linnie, and that so many people expressed themselves about spoilers.

  32. carol dollar says:

    Boy do I ever LIKE spoilers, in fact I depend on them. I consider the best of the romance genre to be character driven with emphasis on motivation, both culturally influenced and even to some degree familially/genetically influenced. I want the characters I have been lead to like or admire–or who exude particular heat–to end up in the situation the author most clearly envisioned for me, the reader, throughout the bulk of the book. If I want to read something with an emphasis on plot with gut wrenching twists, I choose a thriller. If I don’t particularly expect to be able to envision the evolution of a character and also hope to have MY mind challenged, I’ll read something short listed for a major literary prize.

    My feeling is that an author is obligated to consider the audience that reads and pays him/her to write. Although the best writers of literature in the world can cast aside such considerations because of originality and an excess of talent, genre writers should not. Unless an author aspires to prizes such as the Booker, Whitbread, Pulitzer,etc., he should keep a diary or a journal if he wants to please himself.

    I read all sorts of literature, some for sheer entertainment, some for factual information, some to keep the horrors of reality at bay. I depend on the genre authors I choose to do what they have lead me to believe they will. If I have to spot check the end to force their hand, it does not bother me a bit.

  33. elainec says:

    Hi Carol,
    Your post is so interesting.
    I, too, like character driven romance and depend on the author to take those characters to the end envisioned for me throughout the novel. You express yourself so well. Thank you for writing such a meaty piece. I’ve read it three times already and shall take my time digesting it.

  34. Neat blog layout! Very easy on the eyes.. i like the colors you picked out

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