Endings are difficult. And sad. And anxiety-producing. When something ends, it means change. Today is our last real day of vacation- we are going home tomorrow and leaving this tropical paradise behind. Cue the depressing music. But even more tragic is the fact that I finished the latest entry in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward, The King. And I am truly bereft.
These days, I do all of my reading on my Kindle, which has got to be the greatest invention since paranormal romance novels. Put the two together and I can have hundreds or even thousands of books at my fingertips at any given time. And while it took a bit of time to get used to reading on an e-reader as opposed to feeling, seeing, and smelling the pages of hardcopy books in my hands, it has been totally worth it. For one, it really is less expensive, especially if you read a lot. Secondly, an e-reader seriously cuts down on clutter around the house from having all the books piling up around you. Yes, one can certainly borrow books from the library or do a book exchange or purchase used books or giveaway your books. I know. But I’m a little weird, and I have a little problem with a book-buying addiction. I like to own my books. I like to know they’re there somewhere should I ever want to re-read or reference them (something I have never actually done until I started thinking about writing this blog). Interestingly, with absolutely everything else, I am a big time tosser. I recycle everything. I’m a believer that if I haven’t used it or accessed it within the past year, I am morally bound to pass it along to someone who might get some use out of it. In fact, I’m fairly obsessive about this rule.
Except when it comes to books. And then I’m obsessive in the opposite direction. I’ve got books from grade school, high school, college, and various stints in graduate school. You can trace my whole life’s history by taking a tour through my book collection.
So the move to an e-reader was a very conscious decision for me. It was mostly prompted by the reality that I was traveling to Europe a fair amount for my job at the time, and bringing three or six paperbacks per trip was taking up too much space in my luggage and adding too much weight once the 50lb rule started to be enforced. And God help me if one of them was a hardcover. That was just not good. On top of that, there was the not inconsequential issue of having my boss, the 3-star general equivalent with whom I was traveling- who is a very proper gentleman- reading the back of my Meredith Gentry novel by Laurell K. Hamilton about how Merry needed to produce an heir to the throne and that therefore she needed to have sex with her cadre of bodyguards. As in plural. I very clearly remember my boss asking me very pointedly, “Multiple bodyguards?” and then trying to scan the page I was reading. Which, of course, included a very graphic sex scene (with Laurell K. Hamilton, I do mean graphic- and awesome, I might add). I was fairly well mortified and if I could have walked away, I would have. Except that we were on an airplane at 35,000 feet and there was really nowhere to go.
But back to endings and transitions. The point I was trying to get to about the Kindle, although I’ve certainly taken a circuitous route, is that there is a cool feature of the Kindle that measures your reading speed and estimates the time remaining in the book. It’s kind of a countdown to doom, as I know exactly how long I have until I won’t have any more of my story left to read. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, however, as it also tells me how long I have until I can find out how all the plot twists are resolved, which has a sort of calming effect on me when I’m feeling out of control (more on that aspect of storytelling as an anti-anxiety remedy in another post).
So, last night I was reading in bed before I went to sleep, and I knew that I only had 30 minutes left till the end of the book (and the end of the series at this point until JR Ward writes another installment). Then comes the calculation on whether to finish before sleep or upon waking, but it really wasn’t much of a contest. There was a lot of action toward the end, and I really couldn’t wait. And it was good. And I went to sleep thinking about Wrath and Beth and the brothers and wishing JR Ward would hurry the hell up! Unreasonable, I know, as she is fairly prolific and relatively quick.
But it is a petite morte (coincidentally, just like an orgasm) when a book ends and I need to say goodbye, at least for now, to make believe people who have become very important to me. And as I contemplate The King and mine the story for the lessons it has to teach me, I am forever grateful that these books exist to entertain, inspire, instruct, and comfort me. And I know that with books, as with life, when one door closes, another opens somewhere. There are new books to read, new adventures to be had, new challenges to face. And endings are required for beginnings. As I read in a Cosmo article once, the girl who suffers from a breakup today is free to fall in love again tomorrow. And new love is a wonderful feeling. So, I’ll be sad today and look forward to becoming totally involved in another story tomorrow. That works for me.