That last one is special, because Thomas is not a reader. It has been wonderful to share books with him for the first time in our decade-long marriage. He started the series first, and is on book five of fourteen. I quickly caught up, and moved ahead to book seven. Sometimes we read passages aloud to each other. When he comes home at night, we talk about what he read on the bus. It is magic.
That is, it was wonderful to share books with him. It was magic.
Until one dark and stormy night when he got on the internet...
The magic actually started to fizzle two weeks before that night.
Thomas found a companion book to the series in the bookstore, and flipped through it. He came home, and told me information he was sure I already knew (being two books ahead of him). But it was not information I knew.
I read the next book looking for the death of a major character on every page, because of his slip. The anticipation of this death for the first 700 pages prevented me from being really emotionally connected to the moment when it finally happened.
I did not understand why he would look at a companion book before finishing the series, but maybe I should have seen something like this coming. As he progressed through each book, Thomas seemed to be getting more and more nervous, interrupting my reading every few chapters to ask, "Is it still good?" and quickly bemoaning, "It is getting stupid isn't it? Robert Jordan is going to ruin the story. I am wasting my time. I just need you to tell me so I can be prepared." He was worried. I assured him that the story was still good, and he would not be disappointed.
For the next two weeks, I thought he was satisfied. I also thought revealing the death of a major character was the worst thing he could do. Until that dark and stormy night when he got on the internet.
That night, Thomas turned to google. I was peacefully dreaming; unaware that two feet away from me, a travesty of book reading was happening.
He says he just wanted a little more information about one character - there was a mysterious element to this character's backstory, and he was convinced he had missed something (he hadn't; it was supposed to be mysterious - mysterious things are GOOD). Google led him to several websites devoted to discussing and dissecting The Wheel of Time books.
What started as a quest to find information about just one character turned into an hours long search for information.
It culminated in him finding out the ultimate story of several lead characters, and looking up the ending of the series.
This was worse than looking at a companion book early, or even reading the end of a book first (which I will never understand - that is just wrong).
He read the end of the entire series.
The next morning, he confessed his late night internet searches to me.
But this confession seemed much too happy to be a real confession. He was proud of himself. Excited about the websites he had found, and the information he now held.
I was horrified. Disbelieving that he would do something so horrible. Thinking he must be teasing me, trying to get a rise out of me. But as he kept talking, it finally settled into my mind that he was telling the truth. He now knew the ending of the series - nine books too soon.
But the worst part about this - the absolutely worst thing - is that he can not keep his mouth shut. He asks leading questions about what I'm reading, and makes small statements that give things away. So far he has not revealed anything as big as a character dying, but I fear a major revelation is coming.
(It might be necessary for me to take a vacation until I can finish the rest of the series. For Thomas' protection. Because I love him. Even if he is an end-of-the-book-series-reading-cheater.)
Thomas says finding out the end of the series was the best thing he could have done. Now he does not have to be worried that it is going to get stupid or make him mad, and he can just enjoy it. That is why he was not at all ashamed to tell me what he had done the next morning.
I do not understand this thinking.
Reading is a risk. On every page you risk giving your heart away to a character, only to have the author make them do things you are sure they would never do. You risk the story taking a wrong turn. You risk breaking a lamp when you throw a particularly upsetting book across the room.
Sometimes the risk does not work out in your favor, and you find yourself disappointed. But there are times when a book is perfect. The characters are amazing. The story flows. You find yourself laughing or crying at just the right moments. The story sits with you for days (or weeks, or even years) after you close the cover on the final page. Those moments of perfection make the risk worth it.
Do you read the end of the series first, or look up outside information about books while you are reading them? Or do you allow the story to reveal itself to you as the author intended?
Related Posts - Other Questions About Reading:
- Do you read the last 10 pages of the book?
- Do you sniff your books?
- Do you leave small pieces of your life behind in books when you reach for something to use as a bookmark?