Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Spoiling the Surprise (and a Contest!)

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I was talking to my friend a few days ago about a book I was reading and how I couldn’t put it down until I’d seen how the author was going to end it. I’m usually a “big gulp” sort of reader, in that if the book is really good, I read it in one big gulp so I can see how it ends. My friend is a piece reader, she reads it slowly, a chapter a night. I asked her how she ever had the patience to do that and not want to rush to the end. She smiled and said, “well, I read the end first.”

That flabbergasted me. In my mind, she had ruined the whole surprise of the book by reading the end first. But that’s how she could go through it slowly, because she was just reading the events that would lead up to the ending. She already knew how it ended so she wasn’t in a rush to see. She claimed it was easier to savor it that way.

For me, I like to go along with the characters, try to figure out the mystery, or be on the rollercoaster of suspenseful surprises that lead to the end. I want to experience the unknown with the known, and that means that I don’t read the end first. Of course, I do sometimes skim if the author is prone to over-describe or over-conversationalize, but that doesn’t happen very often. I’m along for the ride. And I’m always sad when it’s over.

However, as those who know me, know, I don’t have a lot of patience for surprises in any other realm than reading. My husband doesn’t even put out my Christmas gifts until Christmas Eve because I can’t leave them alone. The presents call to me, wanting me to open them and to know what’s inside. No surprises for this girl. And it’s the same when I’m having a baby. Out of the seven children that I have, I was only surprised with one of them and that was incredibly hard for me to do. I usually find out the gender beforehand, which, in some people’s mind spoils the surprise I’m sure, but for me I get to feel more prepared and ready for the baby that’s about to come.

With my current pregnancy, we are going to find out the gender a week from today, (if the baby cooperates, of course). Since I haven’t done a fun contest in a while, I thought I would do one today. In the comment trail, if you list your guess as to what the baby will be, a boy or a girl, I will enter all the correct guesses in a drawing for a copy of either All’s Fair or Dangerous Connections, your choice and announce the gender and winner next week. (And if you’re going by odds, I currently have five sons and two daughters.)

Oh, and if you’re so inclined, tell me whether you’re a reader who reads the end first or not. I’m curious to see if there are a lot of readers who are like me or like my friend. I think most people read like me, and read to experience the book. But, on the other hand, I also like to spoil the surprise in other areas of my life so maybe I’m more like my friend than I think. What about you?


At 6/03/2010 1:03 PM, Blogger T.J. said...

Girl based off the fact that every family I know that has 8 natural children seems to have 5 and 3.

I hate spoiling the ending for myself. Yes, I want to get there. Yes I'm slow. But if I can get away without peaking at the end, it makes the book that much more satisfying. If I know the ending, I'd probably never finish the book in the first place.

At 6/03/2010 1:16 PM, Blogger Heather Feather said...

So exciting! I want to say a girl just so you can even up the numbers a little better, but I'm thinking it will be a boy. So a boy is my guess. :)

And I usually start out reading a book and get impatient if things aren't moving fast enough or are going to slow or get too curious and end up reading the end before I get all the way through. :)

At 6/03/2010 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


No end first

At 6/03/2010 2:29 PM, Blogger T said...

can't imagine reading the end first - but I'm a big Gulp reader too - no patience for sleeping or eating :)

I'll go with boy - no reasoning behind it... mostly because my fingers typed it out before I could think about it too hard :)

At 6/03/2010 2:32 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

I'm guessing a boy. I don't know why, I just am.

I never read the ending first! But if the book interests me, I gallop along, reading as fast as I can to find out what happens. Then, later, I usually read it again to savour it.

I used to think I wasn't a very patient person ... but on the other hand, I've never unwrapped a Christmas present before the big day. (I won't say anything about how I spent my childhood snooping before the presents were wrapped, though!) But when it comes to books, what good does it do you to know the ending first when you don't know how you got there? You might end up thinking "What the smeg? Where did that come from?" Or you might end up thinking, "Well, now that I know this, I don't need to bother reading it at all!" Nope, it's better to start at the beginning and enjoy the ride along with the characters.

At 6/03/2010 2:53 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I am guessing a girl.

I try very hard not to read the end and most times I succeed. But that does mean I rush through a book very fast. The good part about that is I can then go back and read it again more slowly.

At 6/03/2010 3:06 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I predict it will be a boy or a girl.

I will generally only skip to the ending if I've given up on a book and am not planning to read the rest of it.

Oddly, my wife will sometimes read the end to see how things turn out and THEN decide whether or not to read the rest. But then, she actually likes seeing presents sitting out for a while.

When I have a book that I've been looking forward to, I've been known to savor it, one chapter a day. That worked about halfway into the latest Wheel of Time book, and then I finished the rest of it within a couple of days.

Of course, it's always a sign of a good book when it keeps me up past my bedtime to finish it. =)

At 6/03/2010 3:30 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I'm going to guess girl.

And I can't read the ending first. I also just like to read and be surprised.

I've read a few books from start to finish starting at kids bedtimes and staying up until 1 or 2 reading.

At 6/03/2010 3:35 PM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

I'm going to guess boy.

Sometimes I'll read the last paragraph of a book, but not very often. I like to try to figure out what's going to happen. I can't let myself read before bed or I would never get any sleep.

At 6/03/2010 4:05 PM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...

A boy.

I now read the end of books since being skewered with Savage's cliffhanger, and then kind of work my way back to the beginning of the story, chapter by chapter. Weird, I know.

At 6/03/2010 4:26 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Reading the ending would totally spoil a book for me. I would have a hard time getting excited about it if I knew what was going to happen.

I love a good cliff hanger, which is probably why I use them. As long as the story itself is wrapped up--mystery solved, victim saved, etc.

At 6/03/2010 6:10 PM, Blogger Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

A girl.

I usually read from the beginning to the end. I love the adventure of the story and enjoy watching how the author puts it together. HOWEVER, if I am in a total state of terror (Will they survive, get together, live happily ever after?) I MIGHT peek at the end, just to make sure the right characters are still there.

At 6/03/2010 7:10 PM, Blogger jodi said...

I'm guessing a girl! I read a book from start to finish. I rarely skipping to the end.

At 6/03/2010 7:56 PM, Blogger Karlene said...


I never read the end first. I'm a Big Gulper, like you.

At 6/03/2010 9:30 PM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...

Yes, Jeff, victim saved?

At 6/03/2010 10:37 PM, Blogger Paige's Pages said...

I think it will be a girl :)

I read the end of the book first, usually the last few pages and depending on chapter lengths, sometimes the whole last chapter. For me its how I decide if I want to read the rest of the book. Like some people judge a book by its cover, I judge it by its last chapter. If I like the ending then I go back to the beginning and read it through. Although sometimes, I just read the whole book backwards, chapter by chapter. I think the only books I havent read the end first are the last 5 Harry Potter books and the last 2 Twilight novels. Weird I know, but I read a lot and I cant stand reading something I dont like the ending to. :)

At 6/03/2010 10:54 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Girl. I read straight through. The only exception is when the book is too slow or boring, then I might skip to the end to see if I missed anything that might be worth going back to wade through the rest of the book.

At 6/03/2010 10:57 PM, Blogger brendajean said...

I think it will be a she :)
I can never start a book after noon, because I will stay up until I finish. I can't sleep or eat until I'm done. (I read the Forest of Hands and Teeth on vacation and spent the day falling asleep on rides at Disneyland because I didn't finish it until 4am) (what a horrid unhappy ending). I'm so worried about spoiling a story that I actually paperclip the last 10 or so pages together in case I accidentally let it flip open to one of the last pages and I catch a glimpse. I can't read a book that has a prologue and then the story starts,...5 years earlier. No thanks.

At 6/04/2010 4:08 AM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

I'll guess you're having a boy.

Jon Spell has the right idea. I'll only take a peek at the ending if I've had enough and can't bear to finish the book. This is something new to me. Not that I used to look at the ending before reading all of the book. No, I've finally given myself permission to quit reading an unsatisfactory book. There are so many others in my TBR pile!

At 6/04/2010 2:29 PM, Blogger Megs said...

I think the gender is a boy! I only guess this because most of the people that I know and are expecting right now seem to be having girls. A boy would be refreshing. But maybe not for you, since you already have five of them! (You'd be happy either way though, I'm sure.)

I am so good about holding off on the ending so I can be surprised. I love a surprise in every aspect of life. My husband on the other hand, does not care for them at all. I find myself trying to surprise him with birthdays, gifts, etc., and it makes for an interesting time. He told me once after I surprised him with a birthday party, "We do NOT have surprises in our family."

At 6/04/2010 5:59 PM, Blogger Noble M Standing said...

I am guessing boy and not because I'm having one. But just gut reaction.

I love surprises, I'd rather not know the gender of my baby's and I only read the end first if someone loves the book and I am having a hard time getting through the book. It's rare that I finish a book once I have out it down.

At 6/04/2010 10:10 PM, Blogger GoletaGlenns said...

I don't even read dust jackets- I'd never ever spoil the ending!

I'm guessing Boy!

At 6/05/2010 3:54 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

It's a girl. Otherwise it would just be wrong to use all those cute hair bows and frilly pink dresses. Truthfully, if it is a boy with older sisters he will know nailpolish, purses and cute little fairy wings up close and personal because he will have so many personal dressers.Congratulations

At 6/05/2010 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy is my guess.
I read for the enjoyment of the story to get away from reality. I read from page 1 to the end. I get the full picture from start to finnish :)

At 6/07/2010 12:09 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I say girl, just because you need more balance. :)

I've only read the end once or twice when I couldn't stand the suspense. I'm a start to finish girl.

At 6/09/2010 3:19 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

I'll agree with Tristi and say girl in the hopes that your other two daughters won't be outnumbered.

I normally don't read the end of a book first, but I do tend to write them that way even when I'm not sure who the bad guy is. :)

Now movies are another story. Let me watch the last fifteen minutes fo a movie and then rewind to watch the beginning and I am so much easier to watch with.


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