Is there any feeling quite as sad as coming to the end of a book that you really enjoyed? It’s such a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, there’s a sense of accomplishment at completing a monumental (well, if the book is quite long) task. On the other hand, there’s sadness at knowing that, once you turn the last page, you will have to leave a world you’ve come to love and return to your own very hum-drum life. I think a beloved book leaves a mark on a person’s soul — a little spot where characters we have come to know and love continue to hang out and make us wonder what’s going on in their lives. Or, maybe we can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next, and our beloved characters whisper all kinds of possibilities in the backs of our minds. You know, behind the spot where we keep our grocery list but in front of the place used for remembering to pick up the dry-cleaning.
Seriously, does it make me crazy that my favorite characters seem so incredibly real to me? That I might want to be friends with them in real life? Or maybe not, because many of the characters I love seem to get into an awful lot of trouble on a pretty regular basis. And no one has time for that kind of mess, am I right? If it does make me crazy, do I even care? Hint: The answer to that one is a big, fat “NO!”.
I’m currently suffering from that brand of nostalgic, bittersweet sadness that comes from turning the last page on a great book. I delayed it for as long as I could. I lingered over the fast-paced aerial battles toward the end. I went back and re-read favorite passages. I took the time to ponder over the characters I had come to know and love during the course of almost 700 pages of story and plot and description and all that other stuff which makes a book oh-so-wonderful. As I got down to the end, I tried hard to savor every single word on every single page. I even thought about going back and reading the whole thing all over again. I liked this book that much! I might have done it, too, but my daughter had decided she wanted to read it when I was done. I got tired of her popping her head into my room and asking, “Are you done yet?”
And so, with a happy sigh, I read the last page. I savored the final sentence and dawdled over the last few words, until I could no longer put off the inevitable. I closed the back cover with a happy sigh and hugged this book close to my heart. I could already feel the little hole shaped by these characters forming in my soul. As I handed the book over to my daughter, I thought to myself, “I can’t wait for the next one.”
Oh yeah. I’m a glutton for punishment. But the book-shaped hole demands to be fed and filled. Who am I to argue?