I never want to finish reading a good book; it’s always such a sad moment when I realize I have less than half the book left to read. It’s always worse when I realize I have only a few chapters, and then only a few pages to keep me entertained.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading the ending; it’s just that it always feels so final to finish a book, even if it’s within a series of books. Granted, that sometimes depends on the series. If it’s a fantasy series where the characters will all be gathered together again in some form or fashion, then it’s not always as bad. However, if it’s a series that was designed to focus on a pair or a particular group of characters at a time and then move on to the next set, there’s always a sense of parting from the characters in particular.
I find if it’s a book I’ve enjoyed that I have a tendency to slow down my reading towards the end. Even if it’s only by a small amount. And, of course, I feel silly doing this because at the same time I still want to finish the book. It’s always with a bit of chagrin that I put the book down after reading only a chapter instead of reading several chapters in one sitting.
Like all good things, every book has its end. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we like them so well? Even a series has a conclusion at some point or another. (The only exception being if an author discontinues a series or dies in the process of writing it.) But the point still stands: there’s an ending.
Maybe it’s not the happily ever after of fairy tales or the long, extrapolated interpretation of the book’s theme and main message poured into a quick, witty paragraph. But if the main character dies, there’s not much left to look forward to. If the whole town is wiped out by the plague, who do you want to hear about after that? If the evil villain escapes to wreak havoc on another unsuspecting group of heroes, does it matter? Sure, sometimes, it does. But it’s an ending.
And there’s something of a death in finishing a book. Especially a good book. You’ve become great friends, learned a lot about one another in the process. You know you don’t like mysteries, but somehow you’ve been caught up in the mystery of this or that person’s affairs in an almost tangible way. You’ve learned that the characters dialogue in such twisted double entendres that you feel you’ve been lost a hundred times during the reading. And then when it’s over? It’s like a death.
You close the book and set it on the shelf, wishing your time wasn’t up. And perhaps you go back to it again and again for a reminder of the characters you loved.
I love getting to the end of a good book. It’s an opportunity to reflect on how well an author has written and what aspects worked and didn’t work in my mind. It lets me savor the journey to that point, and it gives me a chance to decide whether I’ll be putting it on the shelf for good or taking it back down over and over again.
But still, as I’m coming to the end of this particular book, I’m feeling that finishing chagrin. Only two, possibly three chapters to go, and yet I read slower than ever. In my head, those are, of course, the signs of a good book.
What are your signs? Do you move faster or slower at the end of a good book? Inquiring minds want to know. 😀