Being an English major means that (as you would expect) I read a lot of books for school. For the most part, I love it. My horizons have been sufficiently broadened since starting my program. Of the things I have learned, I feel one lesson in particular is one everyone should know. For that reason I am going to share it here.
DO NOT RUIN THE ENDING OF A BOOK FOR SOMEONE ELSE.
The people that do that are the ones that end up in the deepest level of Hades and for good reason. This has happened to me twice this semester and both times it filled me with a rage akin to the feeling I get when I see ignorant political posts by distant family members on Facebook (except even a little bit more mad than that).
The first time this happened was when I was reading Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. During our class discussion one day a girl who had already admitted she had read it before said out loud for all the world to hear, “Well Character X is really Character Y so yada yada…” and then followed it up with, “I mean, that’s just what I think might be going on.” I KNOW YOU ALREADY READ THE BOOK. That changed the way I read the entire thing. Why? Why would you do that? The reason books don’t tell you the ending on the first page is because it’s a book. You are supposed to go on a journey with the characters. You grow with them, learn with them, and in the end can finish the book with them. To know key plot points before you’re supposed to defeats the purpose of reading the book in the first place.
The second time this happened was even worse and it just happened yesterday. I’m in my third semester of French and we’re reading a French children’s chapter book. It actually has a fairly interesting/complex plot so I’m pretty happy with it so far. I was sitting outside our classroom yesterday before class started with a few of my classmates. One girl who shall remain nameless was talking to the kid sitting right next to me about the book. I was playing spider solitaire on my phone at this point. Suddenly she says, “Spoiler alert! The narrator dies in the end.”
At this point I stopped playing spider solitaire, looked up, and shot her this look:
The above look was followed by this conversation:
Me: “What the hell? Why would you do that?”
Her: “I didn’t say it!”
Me: “Clearly you did. Otherwise I wouldn’t know the ending all of a sudden, would I?”
Her: “I just whispered it under my breath.”
Me: “Doesn’t matter if I still heard it. Now I get to read the book knowing all along the main character is going to die.”
What in the world makes people think that saying “Spoiler Alert!” immediately before blurting out sensitive information makes it socially acceptable? Spoilers to anything, be it books, movies, tv shows, whatever, should be contained within the confines of spoiler websites. If someone wants to know the ending of a book, by all means go and find it. But you should have to actively look for it. Throwing that information in someone’s face is the highest level of asshole-ery I can think of.
So this is meant to be a lesson and a warning to anyone reading this. DO NOT tell me the end of a book unless I ask for it. I will cut you.