Book Babble: On Spoilers and Classics

     Book Babble is a new feature on my blog that I came up with because I realized that I wanted to share my thoughts and talk about various bookish subjects with you guys. I hope you will comment or post your own views on your blog about whatever topic I am chattering on about if you have something to say! Please join in the discussion, or post your own book topic at your blog if you want, as I want this to be an interactive feature! Feel free to steal the graphic below if you would like to participate! If you also have an idea for a topic that you would like me to discuss let me know- I would welcome suggestions!

bookbabble header


     I’ll be the first to admit that I have a strange, and sometimes contradictory relationship with spoilers. I hate them; whenever I know the ending of a movie or book, especially if the ending was against what I would have wanted, I automatically become less eager in watching the movie or reading the book. Sometimes I never get around to seeing/reading them. But here’s the thing: I can’t help clicking the links that say SPOILERS CLICK AT YOUR OWN RISK. I just can’t help it. I want to know. And yet… and yet even though I know I will be disappointed and upset with myself once I click, I click anyway. The more I like or am excited about something, the more likely I am to click that link. I try to better control myself now and I think I’ve made some progress but it is still hard to rein in my fingers.
     When I am reading a book, I also have a similar issue. I don’t go on the internet and search out spoiler filled reviews or google ‘how does such and such a book end?’. Instead, I turn to the back of the book and read the last few pages. This usually happens when I am reading either a tense or action packed scene and want to reassure myself that everything turns out alright in the end for the characters. I also have the habit of, just before I put down the book that I’m reading, to turn to the next chapter and read a few lines. I just have to know what happens next! To be honest, I am not sure where this inability for avoiding spoilers and peeking ahead comes from. My mother refuses to even read the summary on the back of a book because she says it gives too much of the story away!
     If I manage to ruin a story for myself I am, of course, frustrated and disappointed. But it’s my own fault. In truth, I have been getting better; most significantly I have greatly reduced the frequency with which I turn to the back of a book to check on the ending. So, progress! But here’s the thing: with classics, I have a different mindset when it comes to spoilers. You see, I don’t tend to actively seek out spoilers for these books (although I will still skim the next chapter quite often) but, if I do get spoiled, I don’t tend to mind. And I am not sure why this is. Classics are just books like any other. Yes, they are usually older, and some of them are the best examples of literature that have ever been written, but they are books. Just books, like the rest. And I can’t quite figure out why this class of books seems to sit differently with me in regards to spoilers.
     I have two reasons why I think I am predisposed to not mind being spoiled in regards to classics. First, even if I haven’t read the books in question, I know the ending of so many! Classics are a part of people’s awareness in a way I think most books are not- through school, movie adaptions, etc. Many of the classics I hope to read I already know the ending for, either through watching movie versions of them or through jusr picking up what the book, and its conclusion, consists of from somewhere or other. For example, I started Oliver Twists last night. I am enjoying it, but I already know how it ends. I’ve seen the 1968 adaption of the book a couple of times. I’ve also been slaving over Anna Karenina since January of this year. I’ve had trouble sticking with this book, but it is not because I know the ending. This year I’ve read Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Cold Comfort Farm knowing what course the stories would take. I also reread Pride and Prejudice this year and As I Lay Dying. Rereading a book is different from being spoiled as to how a book turns out but I mention it here because there is some similarity; in rereading a book you know how the book will end but you don’t care- you read it again because you find enjoyment in the plot, characters, and the writing.
     This kind of ties into my second suspension as to why I don’t necessarily mind being spoiled for a classic book versus a general novel. I first started to try to read more classics to become more well read and more aware of what constitutes great literature. I still read classics for this purpose, but now I also (usually!) enjoy them. When I read the classics which I know the ending to I don’t think I mind so such an extent because I enjoy the process so much, that journey of getting to the endpoint is so fun, interesting, and nuanced that it puts the ending out of my mind; I just enjoy the story as it unfolds. I think I might also not mind about spoilers so much because I think that the classics are inherently worth reading regardless of their plot; not only do they expose us to the concerns, troubles, and issues of their time and how people thought, but I think that everyone should have some, no matter how brief, exposure to some of the best writing ever produced. There is a reason they are called the classics, after all. So perhaps I don’t mind spoilers in classics because I am reading them with a different purpose in mind then I am reading other books.
     I am not trying to put classic books on a pedestal to the deterrent of other books; I am just as touched, moved, and appreciative of books that aren’t classics and the experiences they gave me as I am with the classics books that I have read and loved. I am just trying to explain/figure out for myself why I don’t mind spoilers as much in regards to classics and that I think my view of the classics may perhaps be part of the reason.
     Of course, I know my view on spoilers is just that; my view. I always make sure I put a spoiler warning on the top of my post f I am giving away crucial plot points, whether the book is a classic or not.
     Anyway! I’ve babbled enough, I think. I actually wasn’t aware of some of my thoughts and feelings on this subject til I’ve just written them down just now, so this was a very useful exercise for me! I had great fun with this first post for this feature. How do you feel about spoilers? Are you an avid avoider or can you not get enough. Does knowing the ending of a book beforehand affect your enjoyment of it? Do you find that your view changes depending on what kind of book you are reading? Let me know!

About hillarypat

I'm a recent college graduate and this is my blog where I talk about whatever happens to be on my mind- mostly books!
This entry was posted in Book Babble, Books, Classics, Memes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Babble: On Spoilers and Classics

  1. Brona says:

    Good discussion point. My first thought was – well of course I avoid spoilers! I don’t click past the spoiler alerts and I never skip to the back page (unless I’m bored with a book and ready to give up on it). I always want the story to reveal itself as it will.

    But then you threw in classics.

    We often know about the stories before we read them, but that doesn’t put us off. Is it just the writing? Or is it that knowing the ending or the climax doesn’t really matter (classic or contemporary) as long as the writing and the story are good enough?

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