25 April 2012

Do You Hate Spoilers And Reread Books?

I read a really great post today by Michelle over at The Innocent Flower about endings, and it reminded me of something I read somewhere ages ago (no clue where, sorry): if finding out how the story ends is so important, why do we reread?

It's an interesting question, I think, and not one I'd considered prior to reading whatever it was that I read. As Michelle says, a lot of people, myself included, tend to make a big deal when someone 'ruins' or 'spoils' the ending of a story for us - though some people, like my mum, can't start a book unless they've flipped to the end first to see how the story will wrap up. And I confess, a couple of times I've flipped back just to make sure a beloved character actually makes it to the end O:) :D

But why is that we make such a fuss about not knowing the ending? Hands up how many people have ever reread a book because they loved it? My hand goes up about a million times :D (Just check out 'July' for each year in my list of books I've read ;)) But when we reread, the ending is already spoiled - so why bother reading the book if we already know what's happened? Obviously, there is a lot more to reading a book than simply wanting to find out how the story ends. I know for me, it's often that I want to spend more time with the characters, or in the world - or some particular event is just so cool and so well-motivated (in terms of the author building up to it etc) that I just want to relive the experience. Books are cool like that: have an experience you love, and you're free to hit rewind and replay the experience as often as you like!

I'd be really interested to explore whether this reaction differs between people of different reading habits; do people who reread books often have a higher tolerance for endings being spoiled? And do people who rarely reread hate it when endings are spoiled? Do people who read LOTS have a higher or lower tolerance? And is there actually any correlation here at all, or am I just searching for that mythical Theory of Everything?

Interesting ideas. Let me know your thoughts (and whether or not you hate endings being spoiled, and whether or not you reread lots! :D).


Liana Brooks said...

I hate having the ending spoiled. If you tell me the ending, I probably won't read.

But I do reread frequently *if* I liked the book. Some books are good for one read, but after that the passion and interest is gone. I don't care because I know the ending and the book simply isn't good enough to reread. The ones I do reread are fun and interesting and just reading segments amuses me.

Merc said...

I am pretty laid back about spoilers about endings. Now, if I am engrossed in something (TV show, per se), and there are interesting developments, I generally do not want to have the twist/development/whatever spoiled.

But specifically for endings? I'm rather ambivalent. Unless the story hinges upon its twist ending (which only rarely works in long-form, imo) a spoiler will not break the enjoyment for me.

(I'm usually more interested in HOW things go down vs WHAT goes down.)

I don't reread nearly as much as I used to--I think because there is so much new stuff I want to read first (so it is a never ending pile).

But I re-watch movies endlessly. I wonder if it's the shorter time-commitment plus a different medium? (Although story-wise, you still know the ending.)

Sometimes half the fun of rereading or re-watching, for me, IS knowing how it ends, knowing what's coming, so you have the anticipation and satisfaction of seeing it build to a conclusion (and can focus on the other details you missed the first time).

Mirja said...

I'm not a fan of endings being spoilt if I haven't already read the book. Part of the first reading of a book is to follow the characters though to the end. I do reread. I reread because the emotional journey I go through with the characters. Characters often give me the guidance that I need to get through the next minute, hour, day, week, month, year. They help me figure out what I need to do, what I shouldn't do, where I want to end up and where I most definitely don't want to wind up. Without characters, I don't think I'd have what ever little strength it is that I do have.

fairyhedgehog said...

I really want to discover the ending myself the first time through, although I'm not above checking the ending of a book that might end badly before I buy it. I don't like books that make me feel sad!

But whether I re-read a book, or read a book where I've checked out the ending, or read for the first time without checking the ending, it is my choice. If someone decides to tell me what happens, they've taken that choice away and I don't like it.

Tere Kirkland said...

It's funny... I hate having an ending spoiled for me, or even just subtleties. I like to pick them up myself. Which may be why I like to reread. To catch those subtleties I missed on the first read.

Interesting results so far!

Amy said...

Liana - yeah, I definitely agree that not all books bear rereading. But for me it's not usually the ending that determines that, which is interesting - it's more often how the ending is led up to. Like Tere says, I like rereading BECAUSE I know the ending, and I love watching it all fall into place.

And yet... I dunno. I guess there's something nice about discovering the ending for yourself the first time?

Amy said...

Merc - How vs what - YES YES YES! That is so true, as proven by the fact that synopses of even the most exciting stories are often skim-worthy :P And I think you've pin-pointed something for me - like you, I don't necessarily care about spoilers UNLESS they are twist-spoilers. Hmm.

Mirja - yeah, spending more time with the characters is one of the primary reasons I reread. *hugs the booksies*

Amy said...

Fairy - HA, yes, I am with you to the bitter end about sad books. Sad books = not Inky friendly. Same with sad movies, something which people seem to have a hard time getting.

"But it's such a nice movie!"
"Yeah, and they all die at the end, which makes it SAD, so I will not like it!"
"Yes, but it's so BEAUTIFUL!"
"And sad."
*does, to make them happy* *balls eyes out*
"Why are you crying?"
"I told you. I don't like sad movies."
"Yeah, but wasn't it great? Didn't you just love it?!"
"No. It was sad."


Amy said...

Tere - yes, I think the results definitely indicate that rereading and not liking spoilers are not mutually exclusive. I posit that rereading is for a different reason and uses a difference process in the brain than reading for the first time. #pretendingtobescientific

fairyhedgehog said...

Ah yes, sad movies. I just don't. Not unless I get inveigled into it by stupid film makers who advertise sad stories as "heartwarming". No, they do not warm my heart, they make me sad!

I never knowingly watch a sad movie.

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