Deano’s answer to: “Why would someone read the end of a story before reading the book?”

I have an off the wall theory that seems fairly well supported in terms of the people I know who do this:

They all seem to lack a strong intuitive/ideative ability. It’s there, but it’s not something they’re constantly doing like the rest of us.

For example, I could take a few pages from the beginning of a book, the setup, and a lot of the time people will be happy to start to create “milestones” – filling in “what happens next”, or even “how it will end”. They may be 100% wrong about either, but it’s irrelevant – they’ve set an expectation that can then be met, exceeded, or subverted.

The people who read the endings of books, on the other hand, tend to see the whole world a bit differently – they are either more present in the moment, or perhaps emotionally tied to what already exists somehow, that they can struggle a bit “spooling things out” into an unknown future, or to find such mental play to be more fun than distracting. They like, in short what is… And because of that, finding out how things end has no or very little diminutive effect on their enjoyment of the whole book – because, at any moment in a story, they can draw out the pleasure of that page, and the “how will we get to the end” can often be just as entertaining. And, getting back to my milestones analogy – all they’re really doing is setting these markers based on facts, rather than imagination.

Take a further step out onto my thought ledge, and you could guess that these people are ultimately better prepared to handle death – I mean, seriously, we all know how our own stories end, just not how and when we’ll get there. And really, shouldn’t discovering those twists and turns and relishing them be the focus, rather than adding as many additional pages as possible?

I would submit that, whether one is the type to read endings first or not, that the true enjoyment achieved in both cases is in appreciating the journey. Some people like road trips for not knowing what goofy misogyny will be available for sale at the next truck stop, and some like the smell of exhaust fumes and freshly laid asphalt. Neither is more right, and we have a lot to learn from each other if we stop thinking about it in such oppositional terms.

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Why would someone read the end of a story before reading the book?

Deano’s answer to: “Why do some people find it hard to maintain focus while reading books?”

Format may have a lot to do with it:

  • Some people thrive on reading printed paper or hardbound books in a linear fashion.
  • Others excel at retaining information gathered by hopping around quickly through a digital text, as well as the additional options to easily read for a short time (in line at the bank, for example) while also marking one’s place as provided by most e-readers.
  • Still others find “reading” audiobooks is the best method to ingest and retain knowledge long term for both fiction and non-fiction works.
  • Graphic novels blur the line a bit – in some cases retaining key description and dialogue, and replacing a bulk of the text with pictures, which can convey meaning equally, or in some cases, with much greater understanding.
  • While there are precious few titles available, even “micro-chunking” a book, by having it sent over time as a series of emails is now an option for some books – see http://www.dailylit.com/ for one example – which again provides an ease of access/lack of routine change element that can bring regular reading to those who otherwise can’t push through a 200 page paperback.

Overall, I think we’re finding that as scientists discover more details about how different personality/behavioral types learn, the options to accomodate these different types is expanding into areas that aren’t thought of as traditional “reading”. And as this fragmentation is then perceived (perhaps wrongly) by some as an inability to “focus on reading” in a specific medium.

Thus, it may be the case that people are not losing focus while reading in a given format, simply that their ability to focus while reading is tied to an alternate reading method.

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Why do some people find it hard to maintain focus while reading books?