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Poll: Do you like the beginning or the end of...

Do you like the beginning or ending of a book best (generally)

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I asked this question of Sarah last week at Borders. My initial response was “the end, of course” because I love that feeling at the end of a good book.   When I pondered this more, though, I came the realization that I am much more excited to start books than I am to finish them.   When I start a book, I am hopeful that I am going to enjoy it. I haven’t yet been disappointed.   It’s all new and shiny. So for all the great emotions that I feel at the end of a good book, generally, I like the beginning the best.   How about you?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Meljean
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 12:31:23

    I chose ending, but it really depends whether the ending is good or not. But, generally, if a book ends well, it pleases me more than a great beginning to a book.

  2. lara wells
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 12:34:45

    what a great question! I can’t wait to see what people have to say about this. I’m definitely a beginning lover! this i s the time when it’s all hope and promise. every one of your ideas will work its way in and this time the story in your head will flow seamlessly onto the page.

  3. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 12:40:19

    I think the thrill of each is very different. I love when I pick up a new book and the beginning just grabs me and won’t let me stop reading, but I also really adore the warm glow of a perfect ending (and here I’m not just talking about the HEA of a romance).

  4. DS
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 13:13:56

    I’m very unlikely to continue reading to the end if I’m not impressed by the beginning.

  5. Jane O
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 14:43:33

    I said the beginning, because that is what pulls me into the book in the first place. Also, I’ve read a lot of terrific beginnings that tailed off into ordinariness by the finish.

    When the ending is terrific, I’m delighted, of course. It just doesn’t happen as often.

    The question makes me curious, though. Do authors find it easier to come up with a great opening or a great finish?

  6. Samantha
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 14:54:24

    I voted beginning. When the end of the book lives up to the start, that book becomes a keeper.

  7. Ammarylis
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 15:35:38

    A quirk of mine is that the majority of the time,i read the last few pages of a novel before i begin,either out of morbid curiosity or the determination to see if it has a happy ending.For that reason,i enjoy the beginning of the novels the most,as i’ve already read the ending.

  8. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 15:54:10

    The question makes me curious, though. Do authors find it easier to come up with a great opening or a great finish?

    Depends on the author and the book . . .

  9. Shel
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:07:15

    The beginning, definitely, especially if it’s something I’ve been waiting for. There’s nothing like cracking open a long anticipated book. If it’s a great book, the end can be a little sad, because, hey, it’s finished.

  10. rebyj
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:23:45

    Beginning! Near the end I’m mentally going thru my books to choose the next one to read and fretting if I’m out of new ones LOL.

  11. library addict
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:25:20

    I voted for the beginning for several reasons:
    1. Because that's what does (or doesn't) suck me into the author's world. As others have said, for the book to become a keeper it needs a great ending, too.
    2. There are books where I enjoy the beginning and then something happens and I end up disliking the book, but I love the feeling of possibility when you first start a book.
    3. I am more tolerant of slow or faulty beginnings than I am of sloppy endings. IMO a book can recover from a bad beginning, but not from a bad ending.

  12. Samantha
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 18:42:03

    I am more tolerant of slow or faulty beginnings than I am of sloppy endings. IMO a book can recover from a bad beginning, but not from a bad ending.

    I agree. Nothing worse than riding that high only to get to a crappy ending.

  13. brooksse
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 19:58:07

    The ending, for the following reasons….
    1) If I were allowed to go back and read just one part of a book, it would usually be the ending.
    2) Sometimes, when I’m reading a really good book, I find myself saddened by the fact that it is drawing to an end. It almost feels like letting go of old “friends” (Ok, not really, but that’s the closest description I could think of). Especially if it’s the last book in a series. It makes me want to slow down and savor the ending. In the beginning I’m usually in more of a rush to dig into the book. For me, this makes the ending more poignant than the beginning.
    3) I am more disappointed in a rushed ending than in a slow beginning. As long as the book picks up pace, I can forgive a slow beginning. If the book’s pace does not pick up, I can give up on reading it without feeling much of a sense of disappointment. But I do feel disappointed by a rushed ending. It’s like going all the way through a book only to find something missing at the end.

  14. Jessica Kennedy
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 20:11:31

    I like both but I picked the beginning.

    It’s what gets the story going. If it doesn’t hook me then I don’t get to the end or if I get there I might not like the end. Make sense? Yeah.

  15. willaful
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 12:42:19

    I voted ending, because I often get bogged down in the first half of a book and then find if I can make it through, by the ending I loved it. (I always get stuck halfway through Judith Ivory, it’s a given.) But a book with a great first half and disappointing second half (Duke of Shadows is the canonical example, for me) will ultimately disappoint me more than a book I loved by the finish.

  16. bakerchica
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 16:48:12

    I vote that a good beginning really hypes me to get through the book! My usual yardstick is if I can read the first 3 pages of a book and I MUST turn the page to read the fourth, and I’m still there through the tenth page, it’s worth buying. That’s usually for my first time reading an author that is new to me.

  17. Ros
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 11:52:32

    I love endings so much I always read them first.

  18. Selene
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 02:46:26

    In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s vastly easier to start a book well than to finish one well, for the simple reason that it’s easier to introduce mysteries and unknowns than it is to provide satisfying answers. To make a really great ending, for me, you have to put the characters against themselves and have them overcome the main internal conflict of the book, after proper escalation. When this works, it blows my socks off, but quite frankly the vast number of books do not manage, and tend to have more interesting, conflict-filled beginnings.

    Also, in my experience, a lot of Romance authors (influenced by movies?) seem to think that climax=action, which always leaves me baffled. The main conflict is the romantic relationship, ergo the climax of the book should deal with that. Instead, often the conflicts pertaining to the relationship are solved before the end of the novel and then we get to see the resolution of an external action-type sub-plot as the climax (such as the suspense plot). However, once the main conflict of the novel is resolved, it’s really, really hard to keep the reader interested. At least this reader. :-)


  19. Karla
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 10:37:51

    Beginning. By the time I’m near the end of a book, I already have chosen what I want to read next & am impatient, and so I usually just end up skimming so I can say “All done! YOU’RE NEXT!”

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