Amy and Stephanie think that Katie and I are crazy! See Katie and I both like to read or skim or in some way figure out a taste of what’s happening at the end of a book to make sure it ends well. Amy thinks I’m insane for doing it, but I have a theory.
I invest a lot of time in a book. At least one night’s worth of sleep, usually. And there are a lot of other worthy books that I could be reading. So why would I want to waste several perfectly good hours on a book that doesn’t end how I want it to? Hence, I generally employ– sometimes even before I buy the book–the patented “last page skim.”
This process actually begins with a thorough reading of the back cover, acknowledgements, and any other potentially useful pages before the story actually begins. I lay the groundwork for the characters in my mind, and then I carefully flip to the last page. I give it a good once over, checking for relevant names and overall tone of the situation and asking several important questions.
* Is our heroine lonely and sad? Probably not worth my evening.
* Is she kissing anyone? Generally equals a happy ending, which makes me happy. Extra points if the hero isn’t noted by name so he’s still a surprise.
* Is she alone but generally happy? Just might be a good lesson in the story.
Of course, there are several scenarios where these questions don’t work. Like if our book doesn’t have a heroine. I recently read a YA about a high school football player told from said boy’s perspective, thus, no heroine. But I still enjoyed the book.
Another exception–anything generally referred to as “literary.” Jess B. and my friend Kelly B. are fans of recommending really deep and thought-provoking books, which rarely have happy endings. But that’s not why you read them. You read them because they’re beautifully written and well … thought-provoking. Take for example Atonement by Ian McEwan (which I can’t freely recommend on the basis of the pretty pervasive foul language and somewhat graphic scenes). But I did read it because Jess lent it to me, and the movie, starring one of my favorite actors James McAvoy (maybe he deserves a Friday Favorite … hmmm), was about to release. That book more than any other mainstream book I’ve ever read kept me up night after night thinking through the plot and the story and the message. It made me think about truth in a new way. About the lies that so easily slip past our lips. About forgiveness and how it frees us and how lack of forgiveness enslaves us. Worth my read, but would never have passed the “last page skim.”
Mysteries, of course, don’t apply.
Any book by a tried and true author doesn’t require the technique either. Take Meg Cabot for example. Of all the YA I’ve read from her, I’ve only been disappointed by one of them. Or Tamara Leigh. I can count on loving her stuff.
All that is to say, I don’t think that I’m overly crazy. I just happen to over-analyze the way that I choose to read a book. But I find that I’m very rarely disappointed. Amy might be right about me, but I’m okay with that.
Still a little crazy, until next time. -LJ