From Tracie: This Is Why I Will Never Read Another Book Series With My Husband

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This Is Why I Will Never Read Another Book Series With My Husband

I love to read books with other people. Right now I'm reading the Outlander books with Tia, the Harry Potter books with Katarina, and the Wheel of Time books with Thomas.

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.

Thomas Reading Wheel of Time Book Five The Fires Of Heaven

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?

50 comments:

  1. Oh NO! I really feel your pain! Fortunately this hasn't happened to me (that I can recall) but it sounds actually, properly devastating. Worse than the Book Hangover :( You have my sympathy.

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    1. Devastating is the perfect word for it!

      Book Hangovers are the worst.

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  2. Oh no! I love that you two can read together (David and I failed miserably when we tried...) but that's awful! I'm definitely the type of person that appreciates the author's craft; I want to be surprised when he/she wants me to be surprised! I felt a similar way recently when a coworker asked me some "leading questions" about the TV series Game of Thrones; she had read online spoilers, and I did not want it to be spoiled for me! Luckily I cut her off before she could give anything too big away (and she was wrong about some of what she said). Eep! I hope you can still find a way to enjoy the series, and that Thomas doesn't let slip what happens!

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    1. That is how I feel - the author has a vision for when he is going to reveal things, and by looking ahead, you ruin the buildup and the moment.

      I'm glad you were able to get out of that conversation. It is even worse to have spoilers when they aren't right - you keep anticipating something that isn't going to happen. Eek.

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  3. Amen, I have that issue with reading being a risk. That's why I'm so fussy I don't read that much as I don't want to waste my time on someone's fantasy fanservice.

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    1. I get that. I read a LOT, and I read fast, so I will take that risk more often than someone who doesn't have as much time to devote to it.

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  4. Oy! My husband can't commit to a series, so I think I may be lucky!

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  5. Is this the part where I don't tell you that I read the last two chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before I read the whole thing? :) I do it because I get so emotionally attached to characters that I can't actually enjoy the book until I know things because I worry and fret like a moron. It's crazy. And I'm sorry. ;)

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    1. No NO NO!!!! You don't EVER tell me that!

      But I forgive you. ;)

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  6. I wanted to strangle him for you! I never read ahead, and I would be so annoyed if someone told me the ending or a major plot point. When I read historical fiction, I like to Google the real life characters when I finish the book - but NEVER while I'm reading. I love what you say about reading being a risk - you are right!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean!! I read The Other Boleyn Girl last year, and I spent days reading about the characters real lives....but not until after I finished the book.

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  7. Yes, we get disappointed when characters do not turn out the way we wish! Glad to meet a fellow reading fan!

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    1. A fellow reading fan is always a friend.

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  8. Oh no!!! Maybe its a good thing my husband doesn't read!!!

    My mom has always read the last pages of a book before she starts... I never understood that...

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    1. It is a good thing. It really is!

      I don't understand that, either. Why? Why would you do that? Sigh.

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  9. my son always reads the last pages ...

    Delighted to meet you today. I hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a refreshing place to dip my toes in some serious goodness.

    Splashin'
    Sarah

    http://justsarahdawn.blogspot.com/2013/06/slosh-grace.html

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    1. That is just so not okay...the reading of the last page, not the splashing around. I welcome all splashing around :)

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  10. Sneaky husband! My boyfriend isn't a big reader. I do want to read the Outlander series!!

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    1. They are really good!! When you read them, let me know what you think!

      Apparently it can be a good thing when boyfriends and husbands are not readers. Who would have thought?

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  11. That would drive me insane!! Oh my gosh. It's not okay to read the end of a chapter nevermind the end of the series! lol

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  12. I definitely DO NOT read ahead!! Ever. That would make me crazy!! I am so sorry he spoiled it for you!-Ashley

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    1. He is going to be in trouble for that for a long, Long, LONG time.

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  13. I would banish my husband to the doghouse if he did that to me! But since neither of us like to read the ending first, I think our marriage is safe. :)

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    1. Whew. That is good!!

      I'm not making him sleep in the doghouse (only partly because we don't have one!) but he is still in a lot of trouble!

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  14. I never read ahead and just like to go along with the story. If I get to a point where I lose interest in the story and it just won't move for me I just stop reading all together. My husband is also the complete opposite - he refuses to give anything away- ever!!!

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    1. I can not stop in the middle of a book. Even if I'm not loving it, I have to know what happens.

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  15. I will very occasionally read ahead on the book I'm on to see if it gets better (or because the intensity has continued at a high level and it's too much for me and is making my anxiety un-copeable), but reading ahead on a whole series? Hour-long searches for more information?! Nuttuh. He has broken the unwritten rules.

    (On the plus side, I think now I know some new series' to try.)

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    1. I can understand flipping a couple of pages to break up the intensity for anxiety purposes.

      Hour-long searches for more information are NEVER okay. Definitely breaks the unwritten rules!

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  16. This made me laugh! Keep reminding yourself that you love him! I actually kind of understand his impulse. By the time LaHaye and Jenkins completed the Left Behind series ... I no longer cared! Besides which Revelation already told me the end ... Jesus and His people win! =) Okay ... I know ... totally different!

    On another subject ... I appalled Thomas tonight by revealing that I have never seen Gilmore Girls. He seems determined to change that! ... Does he still have his man card? =)

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    1. I love him. I love him. I LOVE HIM!

      (It is helping) ;-)

      I had to laugh at your Left Behind comparison. I really felt like those books were really drawn out by the end. They could have wrapped them up much faster. Or, you know, in one book...like Revelation.

      On Gilmore Girls: We are both appalled. And both determined to change that! You have to watch it.

      Real men...watch Gilmore Girls.

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  17. One of my dearest friends reads the first two chapters, then the last five pages, then fills in with snippets from the middle on a need-to-know basis. It's a good thing I love her. You know, so I don't clobber her. {saw your discussion on SITS, followed you to Sverve...and here I am.} {{not a stalker}} {{{promise}}}

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    1. That is SO NOT OKAY!

      If you need an alibi for any future book-related clobbering, just give me a call. ;-)

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  18. I have seen movies before books and I've found that the books make the movie better than the other way around. Movies to me, make the book suck...does that make sense?
    I have never read a book with my husband unless it's sports related.
    I don't read ahead either. I like the ebb and flow :)

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    1. YES! That is so true.

      It is because the book always has more stuff in it, so it is like getting more of the story when you read it second. But if you see the movie second, you just feel like they left out pieces of the story, and you are annoyed.

      I don't think I have ever read a sports related book. Unless you count all the Quidditch in Harry Potter.

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  19. Hahaha! Oh dear! I hate spoilers of any kind, book or tv series! We're watching a tv series together and my Mother in Law keeps trying to tell me what's coming up and who will die and I'm like SHHHHHHHH I don't want to know!!!!! :) So yes, I feel your pain--no spoilers allowed--it takes all the fun away!

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    1. That would drive me crazy, too!! TV and Movie spoilers are not okay.

      Hopefully she won't mess it up too much for you.

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  20. O.M.G. As much as I think your husband is amazeballs, I would kill him. Or at least freeze him out for a while. I have been reading the Wheel of Time books for over ten years and I still have the last three. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about a different writer. But they're on my Kindle so NO SPOILERS.

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    1. LOL! A freeze out is totally appropriate in this situation.

      I love that you have been reading these for so long. We are going to have to talk about them soon. I have heard really good things about the new writer - that his non-Wheel of Time stuff is great - so I'm holding out hope that it is going to end well. I feel a little better knowing that he worked closely with Robert Jordan on one of them, so he really did have access to Jordan's vision for the series.

      No spoilers from me!! (I just started book eight this week.)

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  21. Oh nooooooo! He's like Harry in "When Harry Met Sally" who read the last page of each book before starting just so he would know how it ended.

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    1. Yes! When I saw that movie for the first time, I couldn't get past that scene. Who does that?

      (Apparently my husband - that's who.)

      Delete
  22. I used to read the last few pages before I read the book - used to - not anymore.
    I wish my husband would read with me...he doesn't read at all :(

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    1. I'm so glad you stopped doing that!!

      The secret is finding the perfect book. It was a lot of years of marriage before my husband found one that worked for him.

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  23. I believe there is a dark place in hell reserved for people who spoil books and movies for other people. I never read the same books as my husband for this exact reason. We've had this problem before and I really don't need another reason to want to kill him.

    But I just went through this (almost) with my book club friends. Book club is great. We all spend a month in our own homes and at our own pace reading the same book. Then we come together to discuss it. Except someone decided that wasn't working for her. She started a facebook group for all of us.

    At first, it seemed innocent enough. She mentioned a thought she'd had about a book we discussed last month. Excellent. This could be fun. Then she started to discuss the book we are currently reading. Noooo! This is not okay. A couple of us shut her down before she went too far. She didn't understand. her feelings were hurt. And I felt bad for getting upset.

    I do not discuss books as I am reading them. That is a 99% hard and fast rule. The only exception is if there is something I think will be offensive to one of my friends. Then I will warn her as carefully and non-spoiling as possible.

    Book spoilers as not evil intentionally. But they do make me want to curse their name and spit.

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  24. That's so hard! I have read the same series as my husband, but never at exactly the same time, so the excitement had worn off enough to let the other person enjoy it without spoilers.

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  25. I can relate to this! My husband is dyslexic so he does not read. I use audible so I have been able to share some of my favorites with him that way. Sometimes he gets to a new book in a series before I do and tells me all about things and completely ruins my ability to get absorbed in the story because I am waiting for the part he has already told me abouT. MEN!!!

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  26. I am HORRIBLE with surprises. I'm the girl that will give you your birthday present a week early because I'm just too excited to share it with you. That being said, YOU NEVER SKIP TO THE END OF A BOOK, LET ALONE THE WHOLE SERIES!!! (Thomas, this is your adopted sister-in-law letting you know you are GROUNDED!)

    If you need a vacation, you can come read here with me ;)

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  27. O.M.G. I hate knowing anything about what's going to happen! So annoying! I purposely avoided the internet before I finish knew I'd loot Harry Potter book because I knew I'd lose my mind if the ending was ruined.

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  28. Ha! My husband just started reading The Clan of the Cave Bear Series that I read in the 80's..but I never finished...now he is ahead of me and he is seriously a royal pain in the ass cuz he knows stuff that I've forgotten and stuff I've never read and he talks about all of the characters like they are sitting in my living room...weird. I totally like your blog by the way : )

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