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Posted: November 19, 2013 7:16 p.m.

Confessions of a 'last-page reader'

I attended my monthly bridge club last week. The talk turned to books we had recently read. We swapped titles and recommendations.

Then the talk turned to how we read books now. One bridge player declared she reads on her iPad, and that all she needs to be happy is her sofa and her iPad, as apparently she can read her books and access all the information she needs with that device.

I’m sure she is right. Those things are wonderful, but I’m not sure my technical savvy is up to that standard, though I am proud to announce that I managed to watch on my computer an episode of a television program that I had missed by falling asleep.

For me that is giant progress in the technical field.

Most of the rest of us were divided between preferring a book or an e-reader.

I said I like both. And I do. I transition back and forth between the book and my e-reader, depending on what I have available to read. I think I really prefer books, but I use both.

What the e-reader has over a book is instant gratification.

And in this busy day and age, where everything is on demand 24-7, who doesn’t expect instant gratification?

You decide you want to read a book, go to the online store and hit "buy." In less than a minute, the book is right there on your e-reader. No waiting, no traveling, no fuss, no muss.

But the reason I prefer traditional books is that I like to flip back and forth to different parts. I find that hard to do on the e-reader.

I know it is possible, and I have done it, but it is not as easy as riffling through the paper pages to find the passage I want to check.

My fellow bridge players asked me why I want to flip back and forth in the book.

I explained that, particularly in long novels with many characters, I need to go back and figure out where a particular character came from, or what that character contributed to the plot earlier.

I also admitted that when a book has several plots running throughout, I like to skip over several chapters and find out what is happening with one particular plot line before going back to read what occurred in the pages I skipped.

I got a few skeptical looks with that admission, but no open groans. In fact, one woman actually admitted that she did the same.

But then came the final, shameful truth. I am a "last-page reader."

I don’t pick up a book and go to the last page. I start a book looking forward to a leisurely journey through the plot.

I am in no hurry for books to end. In fact, the fatter the book, the better I like it. I have been known to mourn when a really good book has ended. I want to know more about those characters’ lives.

So when and why do I go to the last page of the book?

It usually happens when I am about three-fourths of the way through.

The suspense has gotten so great that I don’t want to put the book down before I know how it ends.

But I can’t sit there reading the book for the next several hours. My husband will be perturbed if there is no supper. The dishes or laundry won’t clean themselves. My everyday obligations must be met.

As much as I would like to, I can’t drop everything to finish my book.

Reading the last page solves that dilemma. I am no longer consumed by curiosity, can get my chores done, and still go back and read happily.the end of the book. And I do finish the book.

This revelation was met with exclamations of incredulity from my bridge club.

One member said when she gets to the last four or five pages, she covers the bottom of the pages with her hand so she won’t read ahead.

Club members said I should make my reading the end of the book a column. So here it is.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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