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Spoilers – good or bad?

September 5, 2011

I am one of those people who often flicks to the end of a book before I start it and read the last few pages. For years I have put up with comments from family and friends about how that was cheating, as if reading the end before the start was in someway going to spoil my enjoyment of the book. But now I have been vindicated.

An article by the BBC suggests that spoilers may actually add to the enjoyment of a story. They are quoting researchers from the University of San Diego who have done a study on the subject which has found that knowing how a story ends makes it more enjoyable to read.

I was then thinking about this and if there was any stories where I wouldn’t want to know the ending before I have read it. There were a couple of books which I could think off – mostly mysteries with a twist ending. With authors that I am familiar with, I am less likely to read the ending before I start than with an author that is totally new to me. But mostly, for me, it depends on genre to how quickly I want to know the ending. Romance, fantasy and science fiction stories I will often flick to the end before I start to check that they have a happy ending – or at least not one which I will have to wait for the next book to be resolved.  With crime and mystery novels I will turn to the ending when I think I know whodunnit, mostly to check if I was right.

Either way finding out the ending does not ruin the enjoyment I have in reading the book, rather I think it adds to it – so I can sit back and enjoy the journey.

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