|A sign like this would be good.|
I don't like finding out ahead of time how a book ends, or which love interest the protagonist ends up with, or the major twist in the book that changes everything. And telling me who dies? Don't you dare.
But: apparently, according to recent research, it really doesn't matter. In fact, not only does getting spoiled NOT reduce reading enjoyment, it even enhances it. Check out this article about a psychology study on spoilers. A couple of researchers at the University of California found that participants preferred reading an excerpt when they were spoiled about the ending ahead of time. This was true even for mysteries!
I always love when psychology research shows us something about human behaviour that is completely counter-intuitive. There's no way you would logically think, "Okay, I know the identity of the killer...I'm so excited for reading this book now!" And yet, it may be due to the spoiler that the reader can more thoroughly appreciate the writing style...since they already know how it ends.
When I think about re-reads, though, I kind of see the similarities. Obviously for books with a mystery component, reading it the second time just isn't the same because you know what the big reveal is. But it's still fun — in fact, sometimes it's more fun than the first read, because you get to pick up on all the clues you missed and marvel at the author's skill (assuming, of course, this is a well-written book we're talking about).
|The second time around, it's all about the red herrings.|
For the moment, I'm going to keep on doing my best to avoid spoilers. I still like being surprised when I read. But if I do get told the ending ahead of time, I'm going to try hard not to let it get to me. In the past if I've been majorly spoiled I've avoided picking the book up, or waited a long time in the hopes I'll forget. Seeing these results, though, makes me think that perhaps finding out the ending not only opens a reader's eyes to the secrets of the story, but also allows them to better appreciate the journey.
What do you think? Are spoilers the bane of your reading existence? Or do you welcome them with open arms? When writing a review, how do you decide what's a spoiler and what isn't? Would love to hear your thoughts!