Yesterday, I came to the end of a really good novel that I had been reading for the last 5 days or so. At first I felt happily satisfied as I turned the final page and laid down the book; now dog-eared and littered with various tell tale crinkles on the front cover and creases down the spine. It wasn’t until a couple of hours had passed that I suddenly had a strange feeling that something was missing, a feeling of disappointment and sadness. I felt as though something amazing had ended… I soon realised it was in fact because my book had ended.
For the last few days, it had been my companion with whom I had turned to on many occasions. When I was bored, if I had a spare moment on my hands or when I simply wanted to immerse myself in the world and the people within the story. But now that intimate relationship had ended. These characters that I had gotten to know so well suddenly were no more. Outside of the pages they simple didn’t exist and were merely figments of my memory! I was privileged enough to be invited into the private and confessional thoughts of a few individuals and for that short amount of time, I had become a part of their world. A special bond was created, a trust established between us that was so suddenly cut short. Maybe I am taking this connection with the characters too far but when I am lucky enough to stumble across a book that really engages me and draws me in, I am always left with this strange feeling of emptiness when the novel finishes.
As a student of English Literature I spend quite a lot of my time skim reading a book in the space of a day in order to finish it before a seminar the following morning. I end up frantically trying to get to the last page and as you can imagine, this leaves little room for any enjoyment. As key details are missed amongst the sea of black and white print that drowns me, it becomes impossible to truly get to know or understand the characters and immerse myself in the story – which is ironic as it was one of the main reasons I chose to study the subject! However, every now and again, I manage my time a little better and give myself a little longer to actually read the book. In these cases I find myself able to enjoy reading for readings sake. There is something extremely relaxing and pleasurable about being drawn deep into a book and feeling as though we have known the characters all our life. These people become our dearest friends, our most hated enemies for that period of time in which we are ensnared into an entire world opened up purely within the confines of 300 hundred pages or so. It is amazing how captivating the collection of words, a collection of pages bound between a cover and blurb, can be.
When we truly allow ourselves to be drawn into a book, we enter into a journey of life. A new book arrives in our hands. Fresh; new born. Every page perfectly smooth as though each leaf of paper has been carefully ironed out. The front cover gleams and shines, inviting us in. Soft and unblemished with not a crease in sight, like the skin of a new baby. We, like an innocent child unaware of what life will bring, are naive to what the pages will hold. But by the end of the book, we have changed. We are so much wiser and this, like the deep wrinkles on an ageing persons face, each line with another interesting story to tell, is mirrored in the now crumpled pages of the book.
Allowing myself time to actually enjoy a book, is something that is so important. For the last year and a half whilst being at uni, I have had so many books that i’ve had to read that I had found myself losing pleasure in reading as I was forcing myself through them. The last 5 days have reminded me how much I love to read. As much as the lost feeling I encountered when reaching the end of the novel was a little unsettling, I realise it is a positive one. It means that I really enjoyed the book and at the end of the day, this should be the first and foremost reason for reading.
I challenge everyone who has read this post to make the time in the next couple of weeks to read a book. Not because you have to or because university/college tells you to, because you want to. Chose something that appeals to you, be it a classic, a chick flick, an autobiography.. whatever takes your fancy and I promise you that you will thank yourself after. The feelings aroused from a good book is one that cannot be easily replicated!
P.s. If anyone is interested, the book I recently finished is called ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins. It is a piece of victorian detective fiction if you like that kind of thing 🙂