Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

A reader’s perspective of having a reading vice. 

It may just be me but I like surprises. I’m not talking about a birthday surprise party type of surprise, though I’ve never had one- I don’t think I’d enjoy it, I’m talking about having a present and not knowing what’s inside until it is unwrapped. I remember as a kid my mom used to set up an area in the house that was strictly OFF LIMITS to me and my sister. There were signs all over that said, Santa’s Workshop- Keep Out! Or Santa’s Elves Only. I loved that! It meant Christmas was close but also that there was going to be a surprise to open. Being a kid and doing what kids are supposed to do, I teased my mom with jumping around the barrier and trying to peek in but it was more of a game, I didn’t actually want to see, I didn’t want to know.

One year my sister swore me to secrecy and then snuck me into my parent’s bedroom. There she proceeded to open up their closet and push aside clothes. Buried behind were all of our presents. Unwrapped. I was devastated! It was the worst Christmas because there was no surprise to the opening part of the presents. My mom doesn’t believe me but when I am sent a birthday card, or a Christmas present, or even a Valentine’s gift I wait until that day to open it. My sister? Not so much! It’s turned into a real science of calculating out the U.S. Postal Service to try to get her card/present to her on the actual day otherwise it’s opened! I would much rather wait and make the “special day” special by having something to open.

But doesn’t that make sense? Wouldn’t it be ruined to know beforehand what the surprise is? I mean you can’t undo the seeing and the knowing the same way I couldn’t unsee all those unwrapped Christmas gifts. There is so much more in the not knowing until it is there. It just seems appropriate.

Yet I do have a vice with surprises and that comes to books. I read the last page of a lot of stories. Some I read before I even begin the story like I just did with MB Panichi’s  Running Toward Home. I really enjoyed her first story in the series and since this is a sequel shouldn’t I know? And in Robbi McCoy’s  For Me and My Gal I almost made it, but I just couldn’t wait to know and had to flip to the end. Super cute by the way and highly recommended! A perfect blend of history and love. Or with another recent read, I just couldn’t tell who was going to win out so just to be sure I double checked. And before I’m judged too harshly, the blurb used the word “complicate matters” and sometimes I get scared that’s code for a character cheated so I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t setting my heart up for a hit so I just needed to check that last page and make sure they made it which is why I flipped to the end of Laura Dehart Young’s  Love on the Line.  Does this count as spoiling the surprise though? I know I am reading a romance novel and there SHOULD be a Happy Ever After to it, so am I really spoiling a surprise if I just make sure?

Am I the only one who does this? I mean sometimes reading the back blurb just isn’t good enough. I need to know that the characters I’m investing my emotions in are going to make it. And sometimes I just can’t read fast enough! Let me know which lesfic stories gave you a surprise. Have you just ever needed to know and flipped to the end?

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10 thoughts on “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

  1. I’m so glad to know that a respected author reads the end also, and for similar reasons! I catch a lot of grief for that. Sometimes I will even read the end first, to decide if I will read the book at all, as I don’t like bad endings. If the dog dies, I have to know that ahead of time to prepare myself. Sometimes, I just have to skip to the end at a certain point so that I don’t get too invested in the characters only to have something end badly. With lesfic romances, a happy ending is the norm, but I read a lot of paranormal, spec-fic, fantasy and sci-fi, which can be a bit dicier. Great blog!

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    1. It just makes sense right? Make sure the surprise isn’t going to be a bad one. The funny thing is when my wife read the blog she started giving me a hard time as well. Apparently she didn’t know I did that!

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  2. OMG you are not alone. I almost always read the end. Usually I wait until I get a little ways in to get a sense for the characters and then I read the end to make sure it’s happy. No happy ending…I toss the book aside and don’t finish because I’d want my 6 hours of life back! My wife always chastises me for this, but I just can’t help myself. What’s very odd about this is that I love to write twists in my books and I know that the readers who are like me won’t get the full effect of the surprise when they skip to the end. Oh well….

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    1. Well I got the twists and turns in your work because I read it on a kindle! Maybe that’s why I’m not a big fan of kindles, I can’t flip to the end as easily. Something to ponder! Thanks for reading Annette!

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  3. To me, skipping to the end to make sure you’re not being set up for disappointment means you don’t trust the author to give you a satisfying read. And no wonder! How many times have gay people been tossed under the bus to make a point, provide some angst (but not too much–at least for straight people, if not for us), or given a “bold choice” ending like the Xena finale fiasco. I read an award-winning lesfic book by a superb writer that ended with the death of a main character. Literarily I couldn’t fault it, but although I would like to read more by that author, I can’t seem to pick up another of her books. Most of us are more traumatized than we know by the lives we’ve lived as gay people. I don’t need to add one more trauma to what the world has already dished out to me. I hope the new generations coming up will be more open to a less-than-happily-ever-after ending, but for those of us who are veterans of the culture wars, I think we are right to protect ourselves.

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    1. My earlier reads did have a lot of disappointment in them. A lot of story lines where one women went off to prove she wasn’t a lesbian. And so many lesbian movies or lesbian characters in TV shows either die or get killed or somehow the ending isn’t a happy one. I hate those! Things happen and we adapt that is what makes us human, but I would rather it be something other than how it used to be.

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  4. Absolutely, I peek at the end, just to make sure … but not in ALL of the books I read—mostly the action/adventure or more ‘dramatic’ or unpredictable writer’s I read or if they’re a new read. I can be pretty “hurt” by things that happen to people in novels. So, just to protect myself.

    Lynn Galli’s books alway ‘surprise’ me … I don’t look at her endings, but she can usually add a unexpected twist in her stories or characters– but still manages to make it good, believable, more a ‘good’ surprise than a bad one.

    Christmas presents or any of that stuff, I don’t really like surprises, but I open gifts, cards close, if not ON the day, if possible. Depends on the sender too …

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  5. Barbara I’m a huge Lynn Galli fan and love how her stories seem to be sharing people I would find in my life with the good moments and the challenging ones! She is good at that. I would probably agree that the action/adventure have more ending peeks than others as well.

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  6. My wife reads the last page (or paragraph) first of everything she picks up including books, blogs, and articles. She’s tells me she would rather open her presents early so she can enjoy them longer. Uh huh. I wait for everything, birthday cards, all presents and books. The anticipation is much of the fun.

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