Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Book Peekers Anonymous

Hi. My name is Sarah. And I am a book peeker.

So what the heck is a "book peeker"??? A book peeker is an individual who flips(and proceeds to read) the last paragraph or page of a new book he or she has recently started. I can just hear the gasps of horror from some of my more literary running friends as they read this confession. Yet sadly, it is true.

My friends and co-workers at the Wellesely Booksmith were equally shocked at this confession. However, I must let you all know that this does not mean that I pull some sort of literary Rosie Ruiz and skip over entire chapters in a book. I always read the entire text...it's just, for some odd reason, important to me to know where it all is going to end.

Does this mean I am a control freak? Am I afraid of risky, unknown terrorities? Do I lack patience and self-control that I can't enjoy the suspense of a good story?

My oldest daughter, Kallie, also suffers from this disorder. I discovered this inherited ugliness when she asked me to pick up a copy of Jodi Piccoult's, Her Sister's Keeper. After 20 minutes in her room, she came down to the kitchen, slammed down the copy of the book with a statement that she could not possibly read something that was SO sad. Hmmmm....signs of "peekage" .

Now this concerned me. Did I somehow model this behavior? Our mother/daughter days of lap reading did not begin by reading the final page of some of our beloved picture books. We certainly did not begin Where the Wild Things Are with the words "..and it was still hot."

Clearly Kallie and I must need some sort of literary intervention. And now that I've come out of the book peeking closet, I realize that there are many others, after having honest conversations with some readers and runners, who tend to "peek".

Well, I certainly can't get away with that sort of cheating on the marathon course. Can you imagine running to Ashland, hopping on the train to Kenmore just to run the last mile and experience the end of the race, and then GO BACK to mile 2 on the course to finish the rest of the race???? Nope. But on my couch, in the middle of a very sad and painful passage in the wee hours of the night, I can rest assured that (in most cases) the "redemptive power of love" conquers all at the very end!

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. "- Reinhold Neibuhr


tyler513 said...

Sally: I have as much of a dark side as the next person.

Harry: When I get a new book, I read the last page first so I know what happens in case I die. That, my friend, is a dark side.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

sarah said...

That is a riot, Tyler!! And what about you...do you have a dark side as a "peeker"?

tyler513 said...

No Sarah, I am not a peeker.

The one book habit I have, which I suggest to everyone, is that whenever you touch or pick-up a book at a bookstore, you should open that book to a random page and read a sentence or two.

Too often do we judge a book by its cover, or go on what a book reviewer says on the back. 99% of the time I don’t end up buying the book but there’s always that rare occasion where a sentence or paragraph will catch me.

Brianna K. Grant said...

You'll be pleased to see that the last words in my book are also the title . . . so no spoilers there! You can see for yourself in about a week.

I've been guilty of reading last paragraphs, too, but usually not until I get about half-way through a book and look for a quick fix to stay the course and figure out how the characters get from where I know them to how they'll be when we part.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I am sort of an opposite type. I am an obsessive blind-at-all-costs-reader, meaning that I must NOT know what the book is about before I begin it - not even a little bit. Not even a peek at the synopsis on the back cover. I do not want anyone who recommends a book to tell me anything about it, other than, "It was really good."

But the dying before finishing a book scenario is intriguing, and gives me pause. It might cause a small shift in my literary need-to-know perception.

I might have to give it all another look - (but probably not too closely. I don't want to spoil any surprises! ;)

ZenMasterCynic said...

So I must be a really odd duck then. While I don't peek to the end of the book, I do on occasion find myself looking ahead a couple of chapters. Not so much to find out what happened to a character but more to find out when I get to read about the character again.

I'm with Ophelia: don't tell me the end of the book, don't tell me the punch line of a joke, don't tell me the ending of a movie. Let me find out for myself.

sarah said...

Our DFMC coach and guru, Jack, suggested starting a cousin-category to “book peeker”. "I do this at times with magazine and new paper articles. If they begin to run longer than my tolerance - “Like, get to the point already!”, then I’ll “peek”.