Do you ever skip ahead?

Today I came across a blog entry by one of my favourite authors, Kerry Reichs. If you’re a long time follower of Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad, you may remember me declaring my love for her previous novel Leaving Unkown/ The Good Luck Girl. Anyway, Kerry has published a new book, ‘What You Wish For‘ and I cannot wait to read it. There’s only one problem, if I buy it now, I buy the US version and then the book won’t match the two I already own and my shelf would be in more disarray than I would like it to be. Yes, I know I sound quite OCD but damn it, I love order. So I’m hoping ‘What You Wish For’ will be published by Orion in the UK rather sooner than later. Or else I need to mentally prepare myself for yet another series (no they’re not sequels but still belong together) of books that do not match. Like these:

My heart still cries silently over the fact that my Thursday Next collection is now officially out of order every time I walk by that shelf but I wasn’t able to resist the dumping price on the last book so I decided my heart would have to get over it. Nope, still isn’t but whatever.

Moving on.

With her guest post, Kerry got me thinking about my reading habits. Yes, I do peek at the end of books as well. Book lovers all over the world are now officially allowed to disrespect me for it. But, tell me, have you never looked ahead? Never? Not even while reading Harry Potter?? LIARS!

I even look ahead chapter wise when the book is not very fascinating or I’m tired. Can I justify staying up for another 10-20 pages or do I turn off the light and try to sleep instead? I like reading chapter-wise. I hate having to stop mid-chapter because I just can’t keep my eyes open any longer or because I get disrupted so I need to plan it. Is there enough time before the appointment for me to get through this or not?

But it’s not always about planning, sometimes I skip ahead to see if things turn out the way I want them to, or if there is (finally) something interesting coming up, or when this stupid part is finally over. Let me tell you though, all my skipping ahead, stealing glances at the end, hasn’t helped me with ‘Great Expectations’. I’m now over halfway through and I’m still waiting for something interesting to happen to Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham. But NOTHING EVER DOES!! Sure, the narrative is fine but the storyline is extremely boring to me.

With the last Harry Potter, I couldn’t help but read the very last chapter first, I needed to know he survived in order to start reading the book. Nonetheless my first reading of The Deathly Hallows was done in such a haste, that after finishing it, I started right at the beginning again to get in everything of the story I missed in my hazy attempt to find out what happens to every single one of the characters I loved and cared for for so long.

I read a lot of crime and mystery novels and even though I know the protagonists survive because, let’s face it, there will be sequels, I still need to reassure myself of the fact that they get out of harmful situations alive. I get scared for the characters, which is probably the whole point of it but I’m a sissy that way.

Reading the last page first is not as bad a thing as many people want you to believe though, or at least, that’s what I think. Reading the last page is mostly confusing and without understanding what has happened before, you’re not even able to understand the ending. Last pages are not endings! They’re just last words to a story you cannot fathom unless you understand the lead-up to those last words. Real endings happen sometime before the last page.

Another thing I do to books is read them simultaneously. I never did that while I was younger, because I thought it would be better to read one book at a time. I’m long over it though. Like right now, I’m reading ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘The Help’. The first one I carry around when I take my mom to appointments because then I actually cannot get out of reading it while ‘The Help’ is what I read in bed. Some books just require more effort to get through them than is good but I stick by them.

Most of them, anyways. I’ve so far, rarely given up on a book. I never made it through ‘Moby Dick’ though. Maybe one day, I’ll find the strength in myself to give it another try just right now, time is too precious to waste it on an old man’s obsession with a white whale. Technically I also never finished ‘Dead Souls’ by Gogol but as the last chapters were incomplete I gave up one day and haven’t regretted it.

Now you know my reading secrets. What are yours? Do you peek at the endings? What books did you gave up and never looked back at?

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  • I admit to skipping ahead sometimes too. Going from YA to adult lit. often is bumpy and downright slow.

  • I never skip ahead, especially to the last page. My mom had to do the same thing with Deathly Hallows. She couldn’t read it unless Harry survived. I always read at least 3 books at a time. And I didn’t make it through Moby Dick either. It’s painful!

    • Sorry I called you a liar then ;)
      Yes, I haven’t heard a good thing about Moby Dick so far, only a lot of people who didn’t make it through.

  • I never skip ahead more than a paragraph, not even for Harry Potter. Skipping ahead takes away from the adventure spirit of not knowing what’s ahead. If I did that I’d never read a book. I do reread books a lot though, especially children’s books, Enid Blyton and the like. I’ve never finished Moby Dick,it was too boring and Great Expectations won’t get any better till like 20 pages to the end! :-D

    • Hmm, I really like to get a little glimpse of what’s ahead. I’m just very impatient :D

      Enid Blyton was someone I really liked in my youth but I never gave them another try.

      Oh I can’t wait to get till the end of Great Expectation but it’s not as bad as Moby Dick which is why I haven’t given up on it.

  • I “skip ahead” for planning reasons only. I flip to the last page (top corner only) to see how many pages there are. If it’s a book with “parts” as well as chapters, I’ll flip ahead (purposely keeping my eyes unfocused so I can’t read any of the words) so I know how long until the next major break. But I hate to know what’s coming, and I get so mad at myself for doing even this much when I accidentally see enough to find out that such-and-such happened, or so-and-so didn’t REALLY die, stuff like that. Even if it’s stuff that I saw coming anyway, I hate to know for sure.

    Sometimes I’ll skim ahead if I’m planning on quitting a book, just to make sure I’m not quitting before it gets really good. But since I rarely abandon books before reaching the end, this doesn’t happen all that often.

    And I can’t read more than one book at a time. It pulls me away from the initial book if I start reading another before I finish.

    • Hmm, my readers are all far to considerate and don’t cheat on their reading. I’m not strong enough to do that. If my life had a ‘get a glimpse into the future’-button I’d hit that way too often.

      I always TRY to not read more than one book but then I get bored and move on to other ones I know will be a quick read.

  • decoybetty

    There are only a couple of books I’ve never been able to finish – Jane Eyre is one of them…Yeah, I said it.

    Other than that, I don’t really have any reading secrets – except that right now I hardly EVER read which makes me so sad.

    • Oh yes, I don’t read enough at the moment either. There’s just not enough time.

      Hmm, I read it before that people had problems with Jane Eyre. I don’t remember that. I got bored in the middle of Emma but it got better with time.

  • I read the last page or two sometimes, too. I agree it doesn’t spoil anything because you don’t really understand what’s happening. If you ever do give Moby Dick another try, skip over all the chapters about the anatomy of the whale. They don’t add anything to the plot, and it makes the book much more readable!

    • Yay, finally someone that cheat-reads too! I plan on giving Moby Dick another try, some day, waaaay in the future. And I will skip over the fish talk, I believe I already did to some extend but maybe it wasn’t enough. I skipped over all the fish stuff in ‘Twenty thousand leagues under the sea’. The story in itself was very good just when they started with all the categorizing of fish…pffff….not my dream.

      • I read that book for class once in high school and again in college. We had to read every mind-numbing detail. I guess since Melville worked on a whaler, he wanted to show off how much he knew.

        • That’s how I felt. He was just trying to show off all his super boring nonsense. Having to read it twice? My condolences ;-)

  • I don’t know what it is but I always have this strange compulsion to read the last sentence of a book once I’m somewhere in the middle. Maybe I’m bored with the particular passage I’m on, or maybe I’m just getting impatient for the major action to kick in, but I almost always end up flipping to the last page at some point. I never find that this ruins the story for me because it usually doesn’t make much sense and rarely gives anything away. If anything, I find it MORE satisfying to come back to the last sentence when I’ve given myself a little teaser because it gives me one of those ‘ooooooooh so THAT’S how that happens!” kind of moments, which are always fun. The last page might be a different story (pardon the pun), but the last sentence I can definitely get on board with.

    • YES, it’s so nice to get a little teaser and see what the last lines of a book say but they don’t give anything away. The last page is not the first thing I read but after some reading, also depending on how interesting the whole story is, I get a little peak at the ending. Just to motivate me :-)