Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do You Read Books Straight Through?

"Lesendes Mädchen" - Gustav Adolph Hennig
It has come to my attention that not everyone reads books chronologically. You know, starting on page one and finishing at The End.

Reader Sabrina wrote me to say that she starts at the beginning, then skims and checks out the end to see if she wants to read the whole thing, then keeps going.

What about you. Do you skip around, peek at the ending, or do you go straight through? And as an author/reader, do you think there's something wrong with reading a book out of order or all is fair in love and reading?






145 comments:

Alan Orloff said...

It never even crossed my mind that people would skip around in a novel. Seriously?

quinncreative said...

When I'm deciding to buy a book, I look at the beginning and several pages inside. Once it's mine, I read it straight through. Same with audio books. Listen from beginning to end. Same with Kindle books. I'm hopelessly old school.

Becky Mahoney said...

I admit, sometimes I do skip to a random part later in the book. If there's something coming up that's going to break my heart, I want to be prepared! But generally I do read books chronologically.

Laura Pauling said...

I only skip parts when the writing or story is a little boring but I want to find out how it ends. I'll skip the middle and read the last third. I don't do it often. Usually I read straight through b/c I'm just like that.

Cathy C. Hall said...

If the story hooks me at the beginning, I'll read straight through to find out what happens. That's part of the thrill of reading for me!

I used to have a problem not finishing a book once I started, even if I really didn't like the book...but now, pffft. (Okay,I'll skip to the end, sometimes, to see how a bad book ends.)

Sierra McConnell said...

That is SO cheating.

I read straight through.

Momma Elkins said...

When writing I tend to skip around, but reading??? I read straight through and agree with Alan, never even thought that people would do that. How can you understand the story and how it reaches the end?

Jan Priddy, Oregon said...

I always read from beginning to the end. I do not peak. I only skip to the end if it's a really really bad book and I want to finish with it.

Greg Lilly said...

Okay, I admit I skipped around in MOBY DICK back in college.

Elanor Lawrence said...

I don't think I would ever read a book out of order. The few times I have done that I've accidentally come upon major plot twists, so that took all the surprise out of them.

Jennavier said...

I will read the end of the book if its a thriller and I need to go to work the next day, I will read the end. That way I don't have to stay up all night trying to find out who did what. I can enjoy the book at my leisure the next day,

Jeanne said...

I often skip to the end and read the last few pages. But only if the book isn't keeping my attention. If the ending is good, it might convince me to keep reading the rest of the novel.

Julie Daines said...

My sister always reads the last few pages first, and it drives me insane. She doesn't like all the suspense of not knowing how it ends, it makes reading too stressful.

Why spoil a book like that? Crazy readers!

rostanya said...

I read straight through. Sometimes if I'm really concerned about the welfare of a character, I'll skim later pages just to see if their name comes up.

Chipper Muse said...

OK, I'll be the lone dissenting voice. I do sometimes read out of order. For two reasons: One, I'm bored, but want to find out how one plot twist ends, so I skip around to find it. That's a sign it's time to put the book aside. I'm not really enjoying the journey.

Two, I am so anxious about what happens to a specific character that I have to skip around and find out, or I've got a question that I can't wait to resolve. That's a good sign. I'm enjoying the book. When that happens, I'll find enough to satisfy me, then go back and read chronologically to that point to see how the writer gets me there. I can enjoy the writing more because I'm not impatient to get my answer anymore.

May sound odd. But it works for me.

Matthew MacNish said...

This is madness. I would never do such a thing. It's like sacrilege to me. I get angry at myself if my eye even jumps down the page.

There is magic in books, and I don't want it dispelled, not for anything.

CourtLoveLeigh said...

I, also, am scandalized at skipping to the end. But not shocked. I have friends who do it, and we have argued about it. Also annoyed when people don't read prologues and epilogues.

Maybe it's author empathy? Like I KNOW that the author wrote the story this way because he or she wants it read this way, and I'm a writer. So automatically I side with the author and want to read it the way it's supposed to be read. I want to experience it as an oeuvre. I think I would feel selfish and guilty for skipping ahead. I would imagine the author hovering above me and glaring at me and saying "I see you. I SEE YOU."

magpiewrites said...

The only time I do that is when I don't like the book I'm reading. If I'm having trouble maintaining my interest, I might skip to the end, or ahead, to see if it gets better. But I always regret it.
If I'm enjoying the book, I trust the writer to take me on the trip s/he intended.

Mr. D said...

The first completed story I wrote was in high school and I told my friend to make sure he didn't peak at the ending, because it had a surprise ending. He then turned to the last page and read the ending right then. So, yeah, I know people do that.

Mieke Zamora-Mackay said...

To each his own, really. Personally, however, I cannot do this. I wouldn't have thought of doing that at all.

I enjoy seeing how the author reveals the story, as he/she intended to do it.

Stephanie Bolmer said...

My stepmother ALWAYS peeks at the ending. My younger sister has picked up the habit from her, I'm afraid. My father and I, on the other hand, are in opposition to them. I think it is a sickness! (Kidding, but not.) Why would you do that to yourself? I get upset if a page falls open to the back and I accidentally glimpse a revealing word! And as a writer, I would definitely like my readers to read the story the way it was presented. How else can the plot unfold before them? If you already know how it all resolves, where's the emotional investment in the reading?

Zeki said...

I definitely read my books all the way through. The only reason I won't is if I'm having a hard time getting into it for some reason. The author wrote the book in a specific order for a reason, and I feel like I would be doing their work of art a disservice if I were to skip parts - no matter how tempting.

Plus, I like the mystery. =D

Savannah Rose said...

Nope...can't do it. I'm a very OCD person when it comes to reading a book. AND I never look at the ending first. Most time, if a book doesn't catch my attention in the first few (or ten) chapters, I put it down and move on to another one.

Jenny Maloney said...

I definitely read straight through - but I don't think that reading ahead is necessarily 'cheating' anymore (I definitely used to.) There have been a couple recent studies that've shown knowing the end actually makes the story more enjoyable. (Here's the one that Science Daily talked about in August: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110810093735.htm )

Ulysses said...

Hey. You're reading. I don't have any desire to critique HOW you're doing it. I'm just glad you're doing it.

I read straight through, although if I reread, I might skip some passages or go straight to my favorite parts.

Which is maybe a question for another day: how often do people read a book more than once?

anngatti said...

I start at the end of a book, then decide if I will read it or not. I know it's weird, but I can't help myself.

Nothing frustrates me more than bad endings. No matter how good the book was before the end, if the ending is bad there goes my enjoyment for the book. I rather know what's going to happen and then read the book with the peace of mind that I know I will get the end and I will not throw the book at the wall.

For me reading is not about how many times, or how much, I can be surprised. Reading is about entertainment and how much my attention can be kept even when I know what's going to happen. One of my favorites movies is Alex & Emma because she actually put into words what I had been thinking for years. I quote that line of the movie a lot!

Oh and my family thinks this habit is absolutely bizarre!

Giles Hash said...

I read it straight through. To the very end. Unless I get bored. I try to finish all of the books I start, but some just don't engage me, so I move on to something else.

Creart said...

BOTH! HAVE A GOOD TACO WEEK!

Karen lee Hallam said...

NO...don't do that! Straight through--thought you meant, without stopping. This I do try, but those damn kids of mine, always demanding my attention.
I read straight...but if the book looses me, I put it down and forget the end. The end has come.

Rick Daley said...

For non-fiction I may skip around, but novels I will always read straight through. the only time I skip ahead is just to check how many pages are left in a chapter or to find a suitable stopping point.

WORD VERIFICATION: hobledu. When one is in need of hobbling, like the writer in MISERY who made Annie mad.

Matthew MacNish said...

Hah! LOL at Rick.

heather said...

I do skip around at times when reading a physical book, especially if it's one I've been looking forward to and am eager to find resolutions within. And I'm not ashamed to do so, since a book is meant to be enjoyed and can be taken in however somebody wants to read it. However, e-books don't really lend themselves to skipping around, so those ones I faithfully read straight through.

Reagan Philips said...

Oh, yes, I skip ahead. I have to make sure my fav characters live, or that I'm prepared to let them go.

If it's a series, I skim later books of that too...

I think my father thought about disowning me when he learned of this habit (I'm KIDDING). He decided, instead, to blame it on my mother since she confessed guilt of the same crime.

Reagan Philips said...

I have found my kindle makes it a bit harder to feed this habit.

It also makes it harder to flip back through pages when I'm piecing together subtle bread-crumb clues for a big reveal or twist.

Diane said...

If I get a "bad feeling" about a book, I will look at the end. usually my gut is right and I am finished with it. :O)

Ida said...

I have a soft heart/weak stomach. I stopped reading the Kite Runner. If I come across, a graphic rape scene in a novel, for example, or some kind of animal cruelty I feel bad for days or weeks or longer. This is probably the effect the author is looking for or at least to cause a strong emotion but it is not what I want in the books I read. At least not a strong negative emotion.

I enjoy meaningful, well-written books but I choose them carefully. Fortunately, in the book world there is something for everyone.

Laurie Boris said...

I read books as the author intended them to be read. I can't see doing it any other way.

Jessica Lemmon said...

Eek! That's like, UNHOLY, isn't it? O_o. I always, always read in order. I have a cousin who peeks at the endings, but why? Whhhyyyyy?!!!

Anonymous said...

I may or may not read books straight through. It all depends on whether I trust in the writer's ability to keep me interested.

If I trust the author, I'll read straight through until the end. But if I don't, yeah, I'll skip to the end to see if the journey to it is worth the effort.

Anthony V. Toscano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

Straight through! And it really irritates me when there's an introduction that gives away the whole story (the case with The Modern Library edition of The Age of Innocence, which I'm reading right now).

Heather said...

I don't generally read ahead, but I will skip a scene if it's dragging on too long. I skipped through half of the final fight scene in The Maze Runner because I felt it was repetitive. But I do enjoy reading a novel straight through.

Ava Jae said...

Wait, wait, wait...you mean...people actually skip around? Huh.

I always read straight through--I don't want to ruin any plot twists or accidentally stumble upon a spoiler...what's the fun in that?

Cathy Yardley said...

I wouldn't jump around -- it would ruin the story experience for me. Funny, though, I was just reading a YA thread where, because of the love triangles inherent in the genre lately, they jump to the back so they "know who to root for." Several people posted about that.

D.G. Hudson said...

Yes, I do read a book from the beginning, but I skip boring prologues.

If a book is dragging, I will sometimes flip further ahead to see if the boredom continues, but unless I don't have time to finish it, I don't read the ending BEFORE its time. Books are like wine, to be savored.

Skimming is a good way to read the news, but as for fiction, IMO, if you have to skim it, the book was probably a bad selection in the first place.

As an writer, yes, I do think it's a strange way to read/judge a book. Instant gratification is a side effect of our times, where patience is a skill best nurtured.

janesadek said...

In novels I'm usually a straight through reader, but there have been a few times in my life when I was so caught up with a character, whose situation was so perilous, that I couldn't stand it. I had to flip to the end and see if they were still there.

In non-fiction, I read what I'm looking for in whatever order I want to.

Robena Grant said...

I never skip around. I like the build, the excitement of reading straight through. Even if I stall out, or don't particularly like the book, I'll just put it aside. I don't bother reading the end to see what happened. If I pick it up again a few months later, I can often get past the glitch and finish it.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes do like Sabrina does, skip to the end. Not all the time though. It depends on the story. If the there's something in the story that interests me, the characters or the plot, but it still doesn't somehow grip me...I'll skip to the end.Sometimes, it's to see if a certain character survives (I know I'm bad!) because if they don't...I don't feel like being invested in it. Or, even if they don't survive...but I still like the ending, I'll keep reading. It all depends.

But skipping ahead is something I do only occasionally. Most of the time I resist the urge.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

When I was a kid, I used to be really bad about peeking at the end. I think reading mysteries cured me of that - you can't find out the solution and then still enjoy the detective process. Now I read straight through. But if I'm really not sure a book is something worth my time, I may glance at a few pages near the beginning or middle to get a sense of it.

Gryvon said...

I sometimes skim a paragraph ahead, but that's a bad habit I've picked up from reading fiction of questionable quality online. (Not that online fiction is bad, but I'm just not always sure about how good it'll be when I jump in and tend to skim a bit.)

When reading published books (in physical book form or ebooks) I avoid skipping ahead, to the point where if I want to know how many pages are in a book (so I can judge progress) I blank out all the words on the page because I don't want to know what happens until I get there.

SBJones said...

There was a Robert Jordan book that I did this with. Book 9 or 10 in The Wheel of Time series. It had become so cumbersome to slog through the endless pages of minor forgettable characters that I simply skipped till it was back to one of the main three characters.

This is the only book I have done this too, and I have not bought any of the others that have been released since.

Kaitlin said...

I only skipped to the end in one or two books when I felt the book was taking a tragic turn and wanted to know for sure

And I do it when the writing's bad, but I can't rest until I know the end of a story. But usually I'm a no-skip gal. I like the full effects of suspense.

anthonyvtoscano.com said...

I skip prologues, introductions, and those annoying endorsements (Ever read a negative endorsement? Ever wondered how many endorsers are friends and relatives of an author?). I read author information first. Then from the beginning. Oftentimes I cover the next line with the palm of my hand, so I won't read ahead and thus mentally create my own "spoiler."

Suzie F. said...

I never skip ahead. Never. It would spoil the pleasure of letting the story unfold as the author intended. Everything else in my life is rush, rush, rush. Reading is my escape from the madness of every day life. I like to take my time and savor each and every word from beginning to end.

J.C. (Chy) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

I like to be surprised, so I never read out of order. If I start a book and decide I really don't like it, then I just put it down. There are too many good books out there to waste time reading something I don't love.

Katherine Hyde said...

I read straight through. I can't imagine doing it any other way. I believe readers owe it to authors to respect the huge effort the author made to figure out the best way to tell the story by actually reading the story the way it is told.

Jaime said...

Though I've never skimmed or skipped around in a novel, I tend to start a book then go to another book. Come back to the first, finish it tehn finish the second book. It's bad!!!

ElizaO said...

I always read straight through - although sometimes I'll skip back to double check stuff and make connections. What keeps me in a book is the not knowing of how it will turn out - plus I figure it ruins a lot of the author's work that they put into figuring out timing and reveals and all of that.

writersobsession said...

I like to start from the beginning and read right through. Although there have been exceptions where there might be something happening that is way too exciting to see how it ends and I will jump ahead. But I go back and finish reading where I left off before the jump. Sometimes a sneak peak doesn't hurt. If I was a faster reader and had more patience than maybe I could read right through. Oh well.

Jessica33 said...

I like to skip around only because I am not that patient.

Maya said...

Straight through. I hate it when I accidentally glance at a later page and something is given away.

Anonymous said...

I start in the middle. Work my way backwards, and then go forward to the end.

Sometimes I read the book upside down, too.

It all depends on how much coffee I've had with my Prosac.

Dana Strange said...

Skipping around? BLASPHEMY! Seriously, I read the first two paragraphs when I pick up a book. If the writer's voice doesn't have me by then, it's back to the shelf. I don't need to see the ending first to know whether I'll enjoy the writing.

Emily Anderson said...

I always read a book chronologically-except when I don't :). Sometimes the author is so good at building tension that I have to peek to make sure a name is still there or the right people end up together. But if the right amount of tension is combined with exciting plot I'm reading right now, I can usually hold out. I would never, ever read an ending before finishing a book though. That spoils the book for me.

Mira said...

I usually read a book straight through.

But occasionally, if I get really scared something awful is about to happen, I can't take it anymore, and I'll skip ahead. I usually regret doing this, but sometimes I can't help it!

TeresaR said...

I guess I'm in the minority (and will likely be shunned after this confession), but I often read the first couple of chapters, get to know who the characters are, and then flip to the end and see how things turn out before going back to finish the book.

The more exciting and better the book, the more likely I am to do this since I am impatient to know how things turn out, yet want to savor the writer's style and beauty of the sentences, and I can't do that when my stomach is in knots wondering how it'll end for the MC.

*ducking while books are hurled at me*

Taylor Napolsky said...

I'm glad the overwhelming response is that they read straight through. I would have lost faith in modern readers otherwise!

8one6 said...

I know that books can't be won, but skipping around just seems like cheating to me.

BP said...

I can smell a bad book from a mile away, so if a book wins my favor enough for me to crack open the first page, I dedicate myself to reading FULLY, no spoilers, no matter how ridiculously bad, until the VERY END. I at least have that much respect for even really bad books I manage to put my nose in. Worst case, I have another book I can chalk up to WORST THING I EVER READ.

The Paperback Diva said...

I'm more likely than not to read ahead. I read ahead either because I'm enjoying the book and want to see how the author is going to work out the various threads so I can enjoy it as I go along. Or I'm bored and want to finish the thing. On the other hand, if a book is really good and completely captivating, I'll get so absorbed that I forget to read ahead.

Sheila Cull said...

Bransford, first I determine that it's a book worthy of reading, via Book Clubs, NYTimes Bestseller list, word of mouth, etc. Knowing that to someone else this book is good through through other's eyes, normally keeps me going until I'm finished.

Unless of course I think it is that bad.

Closing the taxi cab door I see our Chicago Hotel Bell Hop. "Hey, Ishmel! I got this brand new book by mistake so here, take it! Or you can give it away too!"

Bane of Anubis said...

My wife will read the last couple of paragraphs of a potential read. If she likes the outcome, she'll check out/purchase/etc.

I actually appreciate this b/c I hate bad endings (more than slow beginnings). She can usually forget the ending within a matter of hours/days; unfortunately, I do not have this ability.

Hubert Vasquez said...

The best part of reading a book is the suspense that you don't know what's going to happen. If you read the ending, in my opinion, it takes that feeling you get when you reach the finality. That being said, I like reading books from cover to cover without skipping to the end.

Jesse said...

I'm one of those readers that I do NOT skip to the end or around in the book. I start on page one and I read straight through to the last page.

Skipping around is confusing for me and ruins the whole effect of the story.

Will said...

All the way through. I can't imagine ruining the ending for myself beforehand, but to each their own. I will admit to reading the summaries on the backs of paperbacks or the flaps of hardbacks, though. That's my way of deciding whether the plot seems interesting or not without having to read half of it first.

Linda said...

On my e-reader I read straight through. When I'm reading a paper book I skip around a little bit. I try not to but it's a compulsion.

Kristin Laughtin said...

If I'm trying to decide whether I want to read a print book, I'll flip through to random pages to get a sense of it, but when I sit down to actually read it for real, I go straight-through. Well, unless I'm really curious about something later. Then I'll peek ahead, but not to the ending. On my Kindle, though, I always read straight through.

As a writer, I rarely write chronologically! I usually write a few key scenes, any flashbacks, etc., and then I start at the beginning and write all the connecting scenes. I'm an extensive outliner, though, so I don't worry about my narrative not making sense even if I start in the middle and skip around.

Amy said...

I'm a straight-through kind of gal.

My son always skips ahead and reads the ending, though. It used to drive me crazy, until I saw some research indicating that seeing spoilers can actually enhance enjoyment rather than detract from it.

E-readers must make skimming and skipping ahead difficult for those folks who like to do that.

Sarah said...

I skip around- mainly if I'm bored.

I'll also scan the end. I think I started to do that when I read through a book and despised the ending. (I'm good at end-skimming, though. I'm able to catch a few sentences and see if it's worth it. I don't want to spoil the ending- just see if I want to go there.)

If the book is highly recommended or from an author I know, I don't skim.

As I writer, skipping around doesn't bother me. I figure it's my responsibility to keep the reader's eyes where I want them. : )

Geraldine said...

Although I'm tempted to read what will happen in the end, I always make it a point to read straight through.

Jenn said...

I've definitely read the endings of books at 2 or 3 in the morning so I could stop reading and go to bed. It does change the first reading experience for me (I'll reread most books I really enjoy) but, well, sometimes you have to go to sleep and that's the only way to make it happen!

Melissa Pearl said...

I hate to admit it, but I often take a quick peek at the end. I just scan for a few key names and read one or two sentences... it's usually to make sure the couple end up together. If they don't, I want to be prepared.

I'm such a romantic sap!

It doesn't ruin the story for me, though. I usually really enjoy it, knowing what lies ahead, but not knowing how they're going to get there.

Marilyn Peake said...

I read books straight through, couldn't stand to know the ending early on, as that would be a spoiler for me. But, to each their own, so I feel that "all is fair in love and reading."

Sassy said...

The Sabrina who asked the question here. I think the split in responses mirrors the general population (according to a librarian friend). I should probably admit that I am also one of those rare folks who hope for spoilers in movie reviews so that I can relax and enjoy the movie, knowing it will come out well in the end (if it doesn't, I don't go). I also reread the books I love all the time; I would estimate that I have some books I have reread or re-skimmed 15-20 times. I'm thinking this is one of those "the twain shall never meet" issues. My husband cannot believe I do this and I cannot understand how he can relax and read a book with no idea of the ending.

I would feel bad for the authors who have carefully crafted a story with all those character and plot developments -- but hey, I'm reading their books! And sooner or later, I read the whole thing straight through (unless it is one of those really bad books). But thanks for all the insight into that whole other way of reading.

Ms. Blasé said...

For the most part, I read straight through. However, on the rare occasion that I encounter a book that is haplessly boring or torturously verbose, I skip to the end just so I can get rid of the darn thing.

Darley said...

It would seriously never occur to me to do that. Unless I'm reading non-fiction, but probably not then either.

Jo-Ann said...

I like being taken on a journey by a writer. Detail is presented in a particular sequence for a reason, even if the narrative is not linear. I like to see the growth and development of the characters. I like to make assumptions about characters' motivations - which may come crashing down at a later point. I love a good twist, particularly if I hadn't seen it coming. So, no, I follow the trail of crumbs scattered by the author, knowing that I am being led, and loving being engaged in that way.

The exception is if my bookclub is reading an absolute turkey! If I strain to get through the first few chapters I might then skip to a later point, just to see if it improves, so I might have something to discuss. I do it for biography/ autobiography too, especially if the "ancestry to childhood" section feels padded. I might skip to the scandalous parts - you know, the sections that sold the book in the first place.

Hiroko said...

If I think I'll like a book, I at least start it. Even with books I ended up not liking, I read them through.
I mean, if anyone wants to skip around to determine whether they'll find it a valuable read, then that is not my business. Do as you like; you're the reader.

Angeliss said...

I don't want to be spoiled. At all, ever. I love the feeling of not knowing what's going to happen, even in cases when I can predict the ending fairly easily.

However, if it's a book I truly love and have read multiple times, I can pick it up in the middle, or read certain parts out of sequence, because in such books, I have favorite parts. I know the plot well enough that the characters don't need to carry me the whole journey to love it.

Cab Sav said...

I prefer to read straight through and do so where I can.

If a book is boring and I'm about to put it down as unreadable, then I skip to the end. Sometimes the end makes enough difference for me to persevere.

Carol Riggs said...

Nooooo, that's just wrong. LOL Seriously, to each his/her own. I personally just like the build-up, the progression. Why spoil a surprise? It's like knowing the gender of your child when you're pregnant. BO-ring!

(I did have a college friend who would read the end of ROMANCE novels first--to make sure they turned out okay. Eh????)

arector said...

I am a "chronological" reader, but I have several friends who do the "skip to the end to see how it turns out" thing. I think that takes away from the reading experience. Don't understand it, but, hey, to each his or her own.

Lucy said...

Straight through, of course. Not sure I see much point in reading a book when I know the ending.

Whirlochre said...

Not reading books straight through is like groping someone's privates before they've given the slightest hint they might want to kiss you, let alone look at you.

stacy said...

I read all the way through. And I'm usually compelled to (eventually) finish a novel.

stacy said...

Right on, Whirl.

JimCripps said...

I read straight through, so I don't spoil anything for myself. That what just ruin the work and the experience for me.

One of my step-fathers had a habit of reading the end (maybe the last chapter) of a book first, then going to the beginning. I still think it strange.

Tammy said...

I'm sure that skipping around in a book is illegal in some states. If not, then it should be. The author wrote the story in a particular sequence for a reader. With the exception of HOPSCOTCH by Alejo Carpentier (which is meant to be read in any order), no one should read out of sequence. Pages are numbered for a reason.

Haley Whitehall said...

I always read a book straight through. Isn't that how books are supposed to be read? ;) Many of my friends peek at the ending first so they know where the story is headed. Like you, Nathan, I never knew some people don't read books chronologically until recently.

Crystal said...

I nearly always read chronologically, but if there is an intolerable level of suspense, I will flip to the back just to see if it's resolved. That is so, so rare for me, though. I prefer to relish the way characters get to the end, and to be surprised at how things wrap up. I'm not sure I would just flip around to parts in the middle--that's just strange.

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

Straight through, and one at a time. Some I don't finish but not becaused I peeked, but mostly cause the writing sucked so bad I couldn't care less what the ending was.
But the good ones, writers-I'll savor every word, sentance, and paragraph, and with that kind of (rare) writing it doesn't matter what the ending is eithier.

Lauren said...

I read straight through. Always!

Bryan Russell said...

I read backwards from the end, word for word.

The beginning always surprises me.

Jaimie said...

I remember looking at these comments and maybe 10 people would have a picture. My how far we've come.

I read straight through.

Norma Beishir said...

I confess. I cheat. I read the end first. My agent once asked me why I do that. I told her, "If I get hit by a submarine in the middle of Market Street, at least I know how the book ended."

She laughed. "No one is going to--oh, wait a minute. No one else could, but you might."

Jil said...

I was, early on, told it was bad luck to look at the end of a book first. Now I think it's sacrilege, after all the work the writer has put in with mood and plotting.

Ashley said...

I have to admit that whenever I pick up a book I read the last page first -- not the last chapter, but the last page that has THE END on it. I've done it ever since I could remember, because when I was a kid I was terrified of books that did not have happy endings.

Sanna said...

Straight through. I read as much for the storytelling as for the story. I skipped John Gault's riveting 2-hr monologue in "Atlas Shrugged" and big chunks of "War and Peace," but those are my only incidents of cheating.

Laura Marcella said...

That is so weird! I've never heard of such a thing. I guess I shouldn't be too shocked because people are always trying to ruin surprises. I'd never skip to the end of a book! I want to be shocked and surprised and not know what's coming until I get to that page chronologically. :)

Catherine said...

I read the beginning and then frequently skip to the end for one of two reasons. Either I am bored and skip until something catches my interest again or I just can't stand the thought that someone will die or the couple won't end up together so I have to reassure myself before I can go on. I am reading for pleasure, after all.

Simon Haynes said...

You could probably divide the responses into people who don't care about spoilers in movie trailers, and people who never go to the movies in case they see spoilers for an unrelated film.
I'm in the latter camp. I'm perfectly happy to hear about a great new book, movie or TV series but after that I want the discovery all to myself.

Marta said...

When deciding to make a fiction purchase, I skim the first and a few other random paragraphs toward the beginning and only buy those that seem interesting. Then I read the story straight through, although sometimes I look back to check something. In nonfiction, I take a more serious look at several pages throughout the book before buying. Depending on the topic and why I bought the book, I might skip around a lot or only read selected chapters, or read from start to finish.

P. Helen said...

dingNormally I read straight through but there is one exception: When I'm reading for my book club and either don't like the book but want to be able to join the conversation re: how it ended or am not going to finish in time for the same reason. I really prefer to not know how the story ends until I get there but for others, all's fair.

pezibc said...

Skipping around is just wrong.

"Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

Terin Tashi Miller said...

I read straight through. Kafka, I think it was, suggested a book should be written so that you could swap chapters, put them in any order, and it would still be the same story.

Apparently, a similar thing happened at least once to Joyce, when some pages of Ulysses fell out of order.

But I believe once it's published, any story is meant to be read from the beginning to the end.

The only time I skip around is if the beginning doesn't really draw me in. Then, I'm checking to see a) how long the book is and how much longer it might take me to get to the point or get interested, and b) if I think it's worth the time and effort to keep reading.

Only time I'll skip to the end of a novel is really if I doubt there's much between the beginning and the end, and I just want to see if it turns out the way I think it will.

A book that really interests me, I'll read from the first word to the last period. But at the same time, I hate a book that promises something great and then fails to deliver. Then, that last period makes me think: "Why? Why did I spend all this time and energy reading everything that came before for this?"

However, I don't sit and read a novel through unless I have an enormous amount of spare time--which I don't usually. I start it, then put it down, maybe start another book, and often wind up reading about three books at the same time, alternating between them based on either interest or boredom.

Jovanna said...

It depends on how much time I have to read. See, if I start a book, I HAVE to keep reading the whole thing through (often more than once if it's good).

Say an average novel takes 1-2 hours to read. If I have that much time, then I may read straight through. If not, I will read a few pages at the beginning, a few in the middle and a few at the end. If it was good or indicated that it needed to be read through from start, I will remember the book and come back to read it properly.

If I am trying to decide what book to read/buy, then I will tend to read the first page and the ending (last third or search for the climax).

If I just can't find a book I want to read, I will just read backwards, chapter by chapter.

It's not cheating. Research has shown that spoilers may enhance your enjoyment of the arts. Good books are hard to find.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

That seems strange to read a book out of order, but to each their own. I read straight through, but if I'm still bored after 50 pages, I'm done. I have a strict 50 page rule, unless the book comes highly recommended.

Leanne said...

Oh wow! I could never skip. The thought of someone doing that scares me. I'd like to think a novel would be ruined by doing that. The joy of reading for me is in the journey, not the ending. The suspense is topped off by the relief of learning how the author decided to end the story; the ending isn't the point of reading it for me.

Sassy said...

If you are an author, would you prefer that I read your book first chapter, last and then through the middle or not at all? Just curious,

Mary Donnery said...

I always read straight through unless I'm getting bored with what I'm reading in which case I'll flip to the end just to be done with it...

Lex said...

If it's a good read, I'll go through chronologically; if not, I'll skip parts to see if the story or the writing improved.

If it's a good read, I'd never dream of going to the end. No sense reading the story if you already know the beginning and the end...;o)

Dawn Kurtagich said...

I read tight through. My friend, however, reads the end of every book first to see if it has a happy ending. If it doesn't, she won't read it.

SusanGabriel said...

I read straight through, but my mate skips all over the place. I just can't do that.

Anonymous said...

I always read from beginning to end, as long as the book interests me.

If the book doesn't interest me, I usually simply quit, because I don't care what happens.

But in Harry Potter #5, Order of the Phoenix, I skipped about 300-400 pages and read the end. The book was just short of 900 pages, and it was turning into an ordeal. And yet others enjoyed it. De gustibus, etc.

Glory Lennon said...

It would never occur to me to skip around while reading a book. You start at the beginning and you end on the last page, in that order. Why in the world would you do otherwise? Heavens no!

Scott said...

If it was nonfiction or a textbook, I might skip around. In fiction where the entire purpose is enjoyment/edification, why would you subvert the author's intent? That's like viewing the Mona Lisa with green-tinted sunglasses on and then saying you didn't like the colors.

Tres Buffalo said...

I like to read non-technical material from start to finish. I do like to read a few pages about 75% through to check the author’s writing style though. Many times the end does not justify the contents and you might decide to not read a good book if you check the end without the weight of the contents. I know that when I am writing the characters take on their own lives and don't always behave rationally. Reading should be a vicarious journey that allows the reader to take a character’s place for a moment and not face the stress or consequences of the character’s actions.
If you are so stressed by reading that you must know the end before you can read the book, you might want to consider another genre. Incidentally I am writing this post from a poolside deck in Cancun waiting for a light rain shower to pass and stress does not exist at this latitude.

Tres Buffalo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TL Conway said...

Absolutely straight through. I honestly couldn't imagine skipping around, or even worse (!) reading the ending, first! Gah!

Emily Strempler said...

I usually read chronologically, but sometimes I read the last few pages, if I think the book could go in a horribly cruel direction, or if it suddenly loses all momentum and I want to see if it picks back up again.

Anonymous said...

I read a bit and then peek at the end, but looking at the comments on this page... I am ashamed of myself *hides head* I will stop this atrocious happem and never again skip to the end (but to be fair, it does run in the family... although my brother thinks it's cheating)

Anonymous said...

*atrocious habit - sorry, I can't spell either.

Barbara said...

If it is a book I am not familiar with,but might be interested in, I may spend 10 min to an hour randomly reading it, first page and then leaf/skim through, If it is a book I am hooked into from the beginning or know something about, I will read from beginning to end.

Anonymous said...

! My mother reads the ending first all time! Personally, I think it's depraved!

Charlee Vale said...

I read through from beginning to end, in one sitting if I have time. (Yes, I read abnormally fast)

But My eyes do have this horrible tendency to skip to the end of a chapter (If I'm on that page) to see if there's a cliff hanger. I hate that. I concentrate so that I don't do it.

CV

Ann Elise said...

I read chronologically. Always have. If a book doesn't get interesting within the chapter or so, I generally stop reading.

Ann Elise said...

I meant to say "first chapter or so"

C D Meetens said...

I sometimes wish I'd skipped to the end, as then I would know I wouldn't want to spend the time reading the book to get there (this doesn't always mean an issue with the book - just that I don't get along with the ending).

Somehow, though, skipping to the end feels like cheating - almost as though I'd skipped to the answers of a quiz. Not sure why...

Eric J. Krause said...

I have to read start to finish. My brain doesn't function any other way. I have no problem with others reading things out of order, though. It's their reading experience; they can do what they want. Just don't expect me to start reading things in a different order...

Nicole Marie Schreiber said...

I start at the beginning, but if I get to the middle and the book is dragging, then I stop. I don't have time to keep going. My book pile is taking over the house!

Nicholas said...

Traditionally, I'll read a book straight through. If I'm going to buy a book at the store though, I usually read a couple pages in the middle of the it, because I feel that is the best way to judge an author's writing style other than reading the lure of the first chapter.

I rarely write in order though. >_<

Anonymous said...

I read chronologically. Only once I skipped and went straight to the end, which was the wise choice for that one book. Other books have been slow or boring in my opinion but because they were well written, I read the entire thing. Gotta finish what you started!!

-Fa

donaleen said...

I skip around all the time. Even in novels. I think it is fine in is fine to skip around in everything but novels. It seems wrong in novels but I can't help it.

I never used to do it that way. I was doing a search for having my problem when I found this post.

Anonymous said...

If it's a great story, i will read it straight through and enjoy the book. But if the story makes me want to hit myself with a chair then I would just skip to the next book. So it's mandatory for boring books to have awesome covers as they make your shelf and the owner look interesting.

But if it gets really bad i will write my own version between the lines. NOT!! hehe.


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