Guessing at the End

Posted 11 October, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook / 27 Comments



Sunday Bookish Funday

Hello!!!  I hope you’re all enjoying your second week of October so far! Is fall in the air where you are? We’re still in the high 80s and low 90s during the day, but our mornings are brisk enough to fool us into thinking that fall has arrived. This is the time of year when I get a bit jealous of your turning leaves and cooler temperatures, but I guess I shouldn’t complain about lovely days in the 80s.

Today’s post is brought to you by the words PLOT TWIST. 

It’s not a secret that I want to know as little about the plot of a book before diving into it. Many of you agree with me, some of you think I’m insane!

It goes further than this, though. While I’m reading a book, I also try to read with a totally blank mind–I don’t try to guess at the ending, especially if it feels like one of those books that might have some twisty type things pop up. Even when watching TV, Scott will frequently tell me halfway through an episode “I’ve got it all figured out, want to know what will happen?” NO!! I don’t analyze while I’m watching or reading.

I love to be surprised! I love to not know what’s coming! It is incredibly annoying to me if I do happen to solve a mystery before getting to the last page, but there have been many times when I’ve had to cover the words further down the page so that my eyes don’t wander prematurely.

This post was prompted by a comment I received after reading The Girl on the Train – whether I found it the book incredibly predictable. I don’t know–maybe I would have had I tried to predict what was going to happen while reading, but instead I tried to get as lost in the story as I could to see where it would take me.

Do you try to figure out a book as you’re reading it or do you read with as blank a slate as possible?

The second (related) part of today’s post about PLOT TWIST is whether it is spoilerish to mention that a book has plot twists.

Yesterday I was reading an issue of Entertainment Weekly and one of the book reviews mentioned that the book had several plot twists. While the book wasn’t necessarily on my radar (though it’s been getting a lot of buzz as of late), I was annoyed at the mention of there being a plot twist.

To me, knowing that a book has a plot twist is a huge spoiler! Once I know that there is a twist, it is so difficult for me to scrub my mind blank and just read the book for the story. Instead I’m constantly analyzing the characters and events looking for where things might go awry. This has come to annoy me so much that I’ve refused to read several buzzy books from the past couple of years that everyone is talking about…because some of the fun of the reading experience has been taken away from me just by a simple mention of twists in reviews.

It’s so hard not to talk about a book that is twisty and once upon a time I might have mentioned this as well! Of course we want to talk about the most exciting or unpredictable parts of a book!

What about you? Does it bother you to know that there is a twist in a book before picking it up? Do you consider this a spoiler?



Books Recently Finished: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. It was a great read and one that I’d recommend…maybe for Saturday’s Readathon?? You’re signed up, right??

New Books in the House: None! Yay me! Actually, I did get a children’s clothing sewing book and Skinny Taste cookbook, but no actual reading books.

New Books on my E-Reader: I picked up Just One Day by Gayle Forman on daily deal before I remembered that If I Stay is the one that I really wanted to read. I’ve heard good things about both, so no big deal.

Books on the Nightstand: I’ve finally started Salem’s Lot by Stephen King for the #SalemAlong. I’m way behind and am starting to feel a bit guilty about it, but I wanted to make sure I got in a #Diversiverse read. On the other hand, it’s totally not too late to join us for the readalong!! You can totally hang out with me in the slow poke’s ring. ;) I’m also listening to Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.

What do you have going on this Sunday? Any great reading on your agenda??


27 Responses to “Guessing at the End”

  1. I love books with twisty turny surprising plots. I also love to be surprised and don’t try to figure it all out too early. My husband does like Scott. As for it being spoilery, there is so little you can say in a review that someone wouldn’t consider a spoiler. I think it just comes down to the level of detail shared.

  2. I never try to figure out the ending, either. I try to keep my mind pretty blank and just enjoy the ride — the ride/read is much more fun when I can just go with it! And yeah, I’m with you on not wanting any level of spoilers/knowledge before I start a book.

    (Speaking of: I’ve been reading my current book for 3 days I think, and I just realized there are (probably) vampires. And then I noticed the word on the back cover.)

  3. I don’t know if I really care if I know there’s a plot twist or not. I knew there would be plot twists with, for example, Gone Girl, but I still enjoyed it. The less I know about a book going in, though, in most cases, the better.

    As for what I’m doing this Sunday, so far, the usual, reading book bloggish posts. Later, a nap, maybe even mowing the lawn. Get out and see the leaves too. :)

  4. I don’t mind going into a book knowing absolutely nothing or having a vague idea of the plot. Knowing there are plot twists doesn’t bother me in the least. I guess I do kind of try to figure out the plot ahead of time but I love it when I’m surprised. Carl thinks I’m crazy when I holler out something like “No!” while I’m reading.

  5. Maybe it’s a product of reading so many thrillers, but I always go into a book (or at least these books) assuming there’s going to be a decent amount of twisting. Still, to hear that a book has a big twist – one worthy of being called The Twist in reviews and discussions – definitely takes away the impact.

    I love to read a book completely blind, discovering everything fresh as the author intended. But then we come to the issue of, if I don’t want to know anything about a book, how do I know if the book is one I want to read? I don’t have a good answer… though usually there’s so long a gap between the time I hear about a book and put it on my TBR and the time I actually get around to reading it, that I’ve forgotten most of what I knew about it.

  6. I’m still unsure about the readathon. I generally save my knitting for Saturdays and my reading for the weekdays, so I will have to figure out how much I am willing to move my schedule around a bit, even for a weekend.

    I love to try guessing a plot twist if I know there’s a plot twist in a book OR if the book is a whodunit. Otherwise, I just like to lose myself in the book – which generally makes for a much better reading experience. I don’t mind being told if there is a plot twist in a book – I find that I do end up reading a book when I know there’s a plot twist.

  7. I’ve never really thought about it but I guess I’m kind of a blank slate reader too. I do sometimes guess but it’s more like I’ll be reading along and something will happen and I’ll suddenly think “he’s the murderer” or whatever but I don’t sit there and think about what’s going to happen next.
    I have worried about mentioning a twist in a review. There are certain books that if I had really known there was a twist it might have ruined it for me. However, most books I read I don’t think it’s a big deal to know there’s a twist. But I worry about it!

  8. I suppose saying a book has a plot twist is a spoiler – but its probably damn near impossible to write a book discussion without giving something away..I love a good surprise … but sometimes I can’t stand the suspense!!!!

  9. Since we are both late starters with Salem’s Lot, we can keep each other company! Now that you mention ‘plot twists” I don’t think I like it either. I had not thought too much about it before, but even when a book is getting lots of buzz—it seems I am sometimes disappointed in it, because I feel that there has been so much said about it, that I am let down.

  10. I looooooove guessing along, whether I’m reading or watching something, but it definitely has its downsides. I’m often unsure whether something that seems obvious to me is actually obvious or if my extensive knowledge of tropes and story dynamics led me someplace the average reader/viewer might not go. Stories that genuinely surprise me are few and far between, too, and I sometimes get grumpy about that.

    Then again, sometimes I’m absolutely elated when I’ve guessed an important plot twist, so there’s that.

  11. Good questions. I don’t mind knowing there are plot twists to a novel and while I do try to guess a mystery (book, movies & tv shows), I won’t get upset if I don’t guess. I think I get most annoyed by a mystery that’s very predictable.

  12. I love being surprised as well and I like your strategy of trying to just absorb the story and avoiding actively trying to guess what will happen. I think, with me, it depends on my mood…sometimes I’m able to do that and sometimes I will start thinking about what will happen (Girl on the Train was one where I did guess and I was annoyed).
    And – I agree that knowing there is a big twist is a spoiler in and of itself. There’s been one instance only where I was glad I knew something was coming b/c it kept me from DNFing too early.

  13. I agree with the frustration of reading that there are twists and then not being surprised by said twists. But I must confess to sometimes flipping to the end of a story to find out how it ends before I read the rest!

  14. I also don’t guess much at what is going to happen in a story because I want to experience each thing as it happens. The one exception to this is a cozy mystery where it’s almost begging you to try and solve it before the final reveal. Then I accept the challenge and put my guessing cap on!
    And we had a short twitter convo already about revealing that there is a twist in a story. I am totally with you. When I know beforehand that there is a twist, I find myself looking/waiting for it rather than just enjoying the story. It takes the fun out of it — kind of like when The Sixth Sense was first out. I bet it was an awesome movie for the first few watchers until everyone started saying “OMG THE TWIST” and you knew there was something that was going to happen.

  15. I hate knowing there’s a twist. I read the book waiting for it and trying to figure it out.

    I used to be a get lost in the story kind of reader, but after 30+ years with Mr. I can figure it all out in 5 minutes, I’ve become more of an analyzer. It’s more fun to just get lost.

  16. As a writer, my opinion is that ALL books have plot twists. I always expect them, and knowing that they’re always there (even if they aren’t always huge and profound) means that I never pay much attention to the fact that they’re there. Sometimes a book is written in a way that demands analysis and scrutiny as I read, and sometimes, I just go along for the ride. It’s more about the writing style than what I’ve heard ahead of time.

  17. I start from the assumption that all fiction is going to be twisty so the media doesn’t spoil it for me. If a book is totally predictable beginning to end why read it? I do try to figure out where things are going as I go along but am pleased when a story goes a different way than I anticipated. The more the characters in a novel are like real people the better the novel is, and real people often surprise you.

  18. I guess I’d rather not know there’s a twist… makes me crazy waiting for it. I’m not one for trying to guess the ending either. I’m forever saying “I never saw that coming!”

  19. Bibliofilly

    It’s funny… I think sometimes people say, these days, that they found a book or movie predictable when they don’t really mean it. The Girl on the Train was not predictable in the colloquial way we mean that when we say it with regard to popular culture. “Predictable” in that refrain means that the book or the movie is so formulaic that we could guess almost as soon as it started not just exactly how it would end, but also some of the inevitable plot meanderings that will happen along the way. For example, Harlequin romance: as soon as the heroine meets the hero, even though she will react strongly against him, we will know not only that they will end up together, but also that they will accidentally sleep together about a quarter of the way through, will subsequently have a large argument caused by greater context pushing them apart, and eventually come together to resolve the contextual plot issues and consummate their love again. Or, Tom Hanks film of the nineties: protagonists meet, are intrigued by one another, circumstances keep them apart, love eventually wins out. Girl on The Train is not like that at all. The discerning reader will guess at what is happening from about two thirds of the way through, yes. But that’s as it should be. I am as irritated by mystery novels in which the readers are given absolutely no clues as to what is going on as I am by thoroughly predictable plots. There should be a feeling, when one is reading mysteries, that it might be possible before the end to solve the myste. It’s part of what makes the whole story so involving – we as readers are called upon to play detective along with the storybook detective. It’s half the fun! Have you ever read a book where there is a mystery and you keep guessing and then at the end the murderer is revealed and it is someone who wasn’t really mentioned through the whole book? Or some piece of information revealed at the very end is necessary in order to piece the mystery together? That friggin’ annoys me! What was the point of all the goose chases along the way if they weren’t cleverly disguising reality such that focused readers might actually guess at what is happening? That’s my two cents worth. It’s what differentiates a well-written mystery from a lazy one. Can’t remember now what your actual question was! Ha. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

    • You make some really great points Nikki and I think you’re right about using the term “predictable.” Of course all books should have an element of surprise to them, though there are some that rely more heavily on formula. I think this is part of the reason why I don’t read the more formulaic romances or mysteries–because the pattern and predictability of them really irritates me! (which is funny because I love that same “irritating” predictability in movies). And yes, I do agree that it is endlessly frustrating when you reach the end of a mystery and the solution comes out of thin air. Seems more satisfying to be able to look back with hindsight and realize how all of the pieces fit together (though I maintain that I love to be surprised all the way up until the reveal and get annoyed when I’ve been able to figure it out before then).

  20. Diane

    Always read the description of a book and often use that to determine whether it might be a book for me –shame on me I know—I also try to guess the ending when it’s a mystery LOL.

  21. I would consider it to be a spoiler. Like you, I like to go in with a clean slate and not know about ANYTHING in the book except for maybe the basics of what it’s about. And even then I have some leeway. It’s nice to pick up a book and not know anything about it, then if I’m enjoying it I make sure to not check out Goodreads at all to see what people say until I’m finished. And I usually try to work out what’s happening or what might happen … that’s the fun of it!

    Good for you not buying any books! Since we started our budget, I’ve been super conscious and using the library a LOT!

  22. I wish I could sometimes turn off the part of my brain that just automatically starts putting everything together to “solve” or figure out what will happen in the books I read and movies I watch. It comes so naturally for me though. I think it’s part product of my personality and part product of my work. Probably mostly because of my work. I can’t not do it. I don’t know how not to. So, for me, figuring out I was right about what will happen isn’t a turn off–that’s actually part of the fun. I love the anticipation of finding out if I was right or not. When I am not, it’s wonderful because it happens so rarely. If I do guess right–I’m happy to have gotten it right again.

    As for plot twists – I think all books have them in one form or another. So, I wouldn’t say announcing a book has a plot twist is a spoiler for me–at least not every time. There are instances, however, when it can be. Especially if the plot twist is huge. It’s all in the way it’s said and if its made a big deal of. Gone Girl for example. After hearing over and over again how readers “didn’t see that coming!” I knew exactly what was coming before reading the book. Thanks, everyone. I read a book recently which will remain unnamed that I wanted to shout to the world, “Good one!” when I got to the big twist near the end. It’s one of those twists which I don’t dare even mention that there is even a hint of a twist because it could easily make or break the enjoyment of a book if given away. I will sometimes talk about the end of a book being disappointing or not going the way I expected or some such.

    On the subject of knowing something about the book’s plot before I read it–I do like to know because it’s how I decide if I even want to read a book. I would prefer to read books that actually interest me, after all. That said, often times, by the time I get to a book on my TBR shelf, I’ve forgotten what the books is about. I may skim the synopsis or blurb to make sure it’s what I’m in the mood for, but I don’t read it as closely as I initially did. There is something to be said for going into a book blind–or semi-blind anyway, so I kind of understand why you prefer knowing less to more when you pick up a book to read. :-) It’s probably one of the few times I’m grateful for a faulty memory. LOL