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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Do You Peek?

My daughter is eleven and is VERY engrossed in Christmas this year. She loves to wrap gifts, so has done everything but her own, and each time she adds another under the tree she admonishes us, "Don't peek!"

I've never really had any desire to peek at my gifts ... it ruins that surprise on Christmas morning. I like to fondle the present a bit when it's handed to me, turn it over in my hands, listen to the sounds it makes and spend some time wondering what it could be. Then, once I've had that foreplay, I slowly peel back the layers and find out what it contains.

Peeking would ruin my joy.

Surprisingly, this doesn't extend to reading for me. You see, I'm one of THOSE people... you know the kind: the ones who frequently read the ending of a book first.

I can't help myself. I was horribly traumatized at an early age when I read "Where the Red Fern Grows". That book utterly destroyed me. I cried about it for days. I know, I know, I suppose it's the mark of a good book that I cared so deeply about the characters (even if, in this case, they were dogs), but it didn't matter -- from that moment I swore to never read another sad book.

Since I slowly eased my way into reading romance, I never really worried about the endings. I mean, it should be a foregone conclusion, right?

So, off I went on my merry way, reading romances and finishing every book with a smile. More than a decade ago, however, I heard about this amazing romance novelist who was A MAN. His books were 'must reads' and of course, I had to join into the lemmings running off the edge.

I read "Message in a Bottle" by Nicholas Sparks.

You're all nodding your heads now, aren't you... you KNOW what happened to me. Once again, my heart was ripped from my chest. NONONONONONONO..... one of the protagonists should NOT die in a romance! NEVER.

And I remade that vow from seasons past.

Now? If I'm not reading a category romance, I read the end first. Usually I only read the last line or two -- I have to know if the H/H are both still alive and whether they are together. That's all. I don't care about the rest of it -- that's the journey I read the books for. But I expect a payoff, and now I make sure I get it.

I peek.

What about you? Peeker or not? Why?

See how determined I am about the HEA by checking out the tagline on my website.


  1. I don't peek.

    I'm not going to say that I haven't, but I have when I read a book and decided within the first three chapters that I don't like the book or I'm not going to finish, is when I read that last paragraph to see how it ends.

  2. Dru, I don't peek *much* ... but if I'm not sure the book is going to end happily, I will. It's a quirk. The simple fact is, I don't want to waste my time on something that makes me sad... life is sad enough. Entertainment should be exciting and fun.

    But that's just me :-)

    Thanks for visiting!

  3. Holy cow. The same thing happened to me.

    I am definitely a peeker. And I have no remorse about it. I don't remember when I started doing it but I know it was because I'd been burned.

    For me, the story isn't about the ending anyway. It's the journey--how the H/H reach their goals.

    Thank you for 'coming out'. :grin: I thought I was all alone.

  4. I hardly ever peek but I will say it now, after a 2 week crying jag from a Danielle Steele Novel, I never picked up another of her books again.

  5. Maria, welcome to the club *G*

    Joanna, I felt the same about Nicholas Sparks, and will never EVER read his books (or watch his movies) again. Even if he changes his ways... I'm terrifically unforgiving. :-P

  6. I loved this line--> "Then, once I've had that foreplay..."!!! I'm not a peeker, but I've read two YA novels recently that were so dark, dreary & depressing that I will not read their sequels. Teens have enough crap to deal with in life without having their personal reading making things worse-yucko! Well...haven't *I* gotten off point-lol! Just a topic that's been on my mind for a while and now that I've gotten that off my chest-I feel so much better-thanks for letting me vent! Now back to writing that upbeat & funny YA paranormal novel I've started...

  7. I am a peeker at both my presents (always done discreetly, lol) and book endings. Once I read the ending, I can settle down and just enjoy the story.

  8. Marianne, I have a friend who writes YA for Simon Pulse and was recently told that "light" contemporary YA isn't selling. She was asked to rewrite her current YA submission and make it middle grade so they could find a place for it.

    Makes me sad, because I totally agree with you.

    Cathy, LOL on the gifts. Do the givers know? *G*

  9. I try not to peek but sometimes I can't help myself. Espeically in romantic mysteries. Sometimes I worry that who I think is the romantic interest might turn out to be the killer. *g*

  10. I'm most likely to peek if I'm thinking of reading one where the heroine is torn between 2 guys. I usually like one or the other of the fellows right away. So I peek to see who she picks. If she doesn't end up with the "right" guy, I'll pass on the book.

    But yeah, like you, I insist on a happy ending. A friend tried to talk me into reading "Message In A Bottle" but I grilled her until she admitted it hadn't ended well.

    And here's a confession that'll prove how important a happy ending is to me. I refuse to watch Titanic. I know it doesn't end with the lovers living HEA. People tell me I'm nuts and I just agree with 'em.

    Quacking Alone

  11. I peek. I don't like how some genres don't give HEA's and I have to know whether the hero and/or heroine survived whatever and end up together. Life is hard enough as it is without some happiness in it, even if it's from a book I escaped into. *G*

  12. Tori, re: Sometimes I worry that who I think is the romantic interest might turn out to be the killer. -- I've had this happen a couple of times in cozy mysteries. HATE it!

    Mary Anne, re: I refuse to watch Titanic. -- I actually like this story, and I don't know why. I watch "Beaches", too, quite often, and cry like a baby. It's oddly cathartic, and it's one of my few exceptions to the HEA rule.

    Brady, re: Life is hard enough as it is without some happiness in it -- EXACTLY!

    Thanks for visiting!

  13. I don't peek ever! If someone wants to discuss a book that I've not read yet, I promptly put my fingers in my ears and run away screaming "I can't hear you!" The best part of reading is seeing if I can discover who gets the girl or who dun it? Why would I want to ruin that moment by peeking? No way, not me.


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  14. I only peek a little because I don't want to ruin the surprise--if there is one.

    Where the Red Fern Grows is one of my favorite books, but it is hard to read it. I hate when animals die. And I kind like sad endings. I guess I'm a weird romance reader.

  15. Generally not a peeker unless I don't intend to continue reading the book; and I tend to stick to romance because I can't stand those horrible, shocking endings that pop up in other genres. ARGH! I tend to look to my reading for some good escapism--I don't need the intrusion of those real-life depressing endings :( Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  16. I peek . . . no matter what genre it is, romance, horror, mystery, sci-fi. I can't help myself and peek - and still enjoy the story. Some people just have to know (within reasonable bounds) and I'm one!


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