Q&D Results: Do you read ahead?

Do you remember when email first arrived on the scene? It didn’t take long for email etiquette “experts” to step in and write rules and guidelines for the best practices. These general rules have been widely adopted, so we understand things like:

  • typing in all lowercase letters indicates that you are mumbling, (or whispering) and
  • TYPING IN ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS INDICATES YOU ARE SHOUTING, especially if you add exclamation marks!

So it is with this understanding that you let me know through a recent Quick & Dirty Survey that YOU FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT THE SUBJECT OF READING AHEAD!

One of the reasons I asked is because I have never been one who reads ahead. Never. I don’t even like to read the jacket copy or early reviews, because I do not want my experience of reading the book tainted in any way. But just in the last few weeks, I found myself looking ahead. One book I was reading told the story in reverse. The first chapter took place in the present, and each subsequent chapter occurred years–sometimes decades–earlier. By the time I was halfway through, I already knew who died, I already knew who didn’t end up together, and I became a frustrated reader. So I found myself looking to the last chapter. I didn’t read anything in the chapter. I just looked at the heading, to see if we ever returned to the present. I had to have a glimmer of hope in order to continue. And then I did something similar with the very next read. Only this time, I glanced at the final pages to see if any of characters I cared about lived to see the end.

So, feeling a bit out of sorts, I asked about your reading habits. AND HERE’S WHAT YOU TOLD ME!

10% of respondents said Yes.

  • “ABSOLUTELY, I always read the last page! Why? Partly because it annoys my husband and I also want to see what characters are important enough to make it to the end :)”
  • “Yes (it is the most frustrating part of digital books because I have not figured out how to move easily back and forth between parts of a book). If a story does not engage me fully, I skip to the end and read the last chapter to see if I’m interested in finding out how the characters got from point A (the beginning of the book) to point B (the end). I will also read a book backwards, start at the end and read forward. I think it’s the historian in me.”

20% of respondents answered occasionally,

  • “I rarely read the end of a book before I get there. Occasionally I will check to make sure a character I am in love with makes it to the last pages of a book.”
  • “no don’t want to spoil it for myself – can’t say I never have though!”
  • “When reading military SF to make sure my favorites survive! LOL.”
  • “Not usually (unless there are pictures, pictures draw me in!!).”

70% of respondents said NO!

  • “NO!  NEVER!  That would spoil EVERYTHING!”
  • “I do not peek at the ending because I feel that it would ruin the story for me. If I knew the ending I think it would ruin the buildup for me.”
  • “Of course not….that’s cheating! There would be no dramatic suspense!”
  • “Never. I accidentally caught the last line of a book the other day & I was in a bad mood for hours.”
  • “No.  I have to follow where the author takes me.  Just me and my style of reading.”
  • “I do not skip ahead. If a book is good enough that I want to find out what happened, it’s good enough to actually read… though I admit, sometimes I read really really quickly and lightly to get to the end.”
  • “No, I don’t peek at the story ending, but I will read the author bio. I don’t like to ruin the ending.”
  • “I NEVER peek at the end.  Don’t want to spoil it for myself! LOL”
  • “I try to never peek!!  It would ruin the whole experience that the author has created for me.”
  • “I look at the last page only to see the page number.  (I need to know how many I have to go.)  I don’t want to see even a word, though, as I’m the most spoiler-averse person ever.  My favorite stories often have some sort of twist, and in general I find reading much more enjoyable if I’m just along for the ride, rather than trying to anticipate an upcoming event.”
  • “No! I don’t want to have the ending spoiled.”
  • “When I read a book, I never peek at the ending– I check how many pages there are, but never at the ending. It would just spoil EVERYTHING!! And then, why bother reading the book at all?!!”
  • “I never, never, never skip to the end. Ever. Writers agonize over the order in which they present information; I think the structure is part of the art, and a significant work product. I wouldn’t want to ruin my experience of it. Every reading after the first, you’ll always know what happens in the end – why spoil that one unique pass when you don’t?”
  • “Nope. I just never felt it was right!”
  • “No, and I do not read reviews either to avoid coloring my judgement and spoiling the joy of discovery.”
  • “No! That would be cheating! Do you watch the end of a movie first? Listen to the end of a song to see how it turns out? On the other hand, I think eating dessert first is a perfectly acceptable practice, on occasion.”




Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay