The end of a story
I love to read and if you do too you can probably empathize with this. What is it about the end of a story that makes the disconnect so painful? Maybe painful isn’t the right word, jarring perhaps? Abrupt? Whatever the adjective you choose closing one book leaves a world of possibilities for the next, but for me, there is always a bit of a hangover jumping from one universe to the next. Leaving me to wonder if that’s a common phenomenon.
Last night marks the last book in the longest series I’ve read to date. I love long book series because I don’t have to worry about what to read after I finish one book. I’m a simple man, with simple pleasures and knowing that I have the to be read path outlined for me is the best feeling. Plus when you find a good book, you don’t want it to end and I’ve found my fair share of good books.
Now that isn’t to say I don’t read the lone publication, my reading history is littered with one and done books. But I always prefer to just exist in a micro universe that is a series for as long as possible so when I stumbled upon a series that was thirteen books long, of average book length — which is super important to me because I’ve found long series that were individually very short, and the best part it was finished (so no waiting for the next volume), I jumped at the chance to read it!
Getting to read thirteen books is a lot of books! So some quick math. I’ve averaged roughly one book a week, sometimes a bit faster, sometimes a bit slower. That means we’re looking at roughly ninety-one days, or thirteen weeks, or about three months of reading. Which for those keeping count is approximately a quarter of a year. So a significant amount of time in the microscheme of things. I’m a slow reader too, so I average about 100 pages in 3-4 hours each day. Again sometimes faster, sometimes slower, it just depends on how I’m feeling. For those interested that’s anywhere from 273 to 364 hours of reading to get through the series. Seeing it written out, I feel like that’s an overestimate somehow…
I genuinely don’t believe that I’ve spent that amount of time around school-PI since I’ve known him. I’ve also mentored people for shorter amounts of time. All that to say that a good series becomes a close part of your life when you read regularly. Currently (as of this writing) I’m at 110 weeks straight (exactly 110) and counting of reading daily. Which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you want to look at it I guess.. Is it intervention time? Maybe this is less of me noticing something and more of a plea for help… help finding more books that is.
Jokes aside the fact is that it’s a significant part of my life spent reading that series in particular and as with any series, no matter how long, it eventually ends. I have yet to find the infinite series I’m searching for… I’m always excited to finish a series (or standalone book for that matter), so it’s not a bad thing that it ends, it just means you need to remove yourself from that universe.
See, no matter what type of book you read in the great swath of fiction that exists, there are rules. A good story has a universe that has its own structure and no matter how different from our world, there are rules for how things behave. This basically applies to even the most absurd universes, like take for instance Alice in Wonderland, which if you’ve read it you know that the world in the book makes absolutely no sense, but that’s the rule of the universe, to not make sense. So you can therefore always count on it to keep to that rule, which makes sense of the nonsensical in a sensibly nonsense way.
So you get used to these rules and the characters. You watch people over the span of hours, days, weeks, months, years, however long the books are set for, as they grow and progress. It’s the whole reason to read really. Then you reach the ending and have to leave that little universe with its well known rules and storyline and you inevitably move on to another universe with its own rules and stories that are foreign. Rules that take time to get used to and figure out.
For me there’s always a bit of a hangover jumping from one universe to the next. The rules don’t make sense or they aren’t revealed yet. You have no bearing for what’s going on or how people will behave. Within a few pages into a new universe I read in horror as a character literally consumed a rare and one of a kind book. To what purpose? I didn’t know because the rules weren’t laid out to me prior to that introduction.
And I’m using the term universe here for a very good reason, much like Marvel has its cinematic universe, each book is a self contained universe all to its own. Our universe has a set of rules which we live by and we are very accustomed to. Really crappy rules and if you haven’t noticed the universe kind of sucks right now, but it’s ours so here we are living by the rules of the universe laid out to us. But the rules of our universe didn’t have to be the way they are.
So I imagine if we could literally jump to an alternate universe, it would be just as jarring as when I close one book and open the next. Without time to decompress, you have to adapt very quickly to this new world and while I could take a break between books, well where’s the fun in that? There’s so many different universes out there that are interesting to me, I don’t mind dealing with the discomfort from quickly hopping to the next universe.
Here’s the thing, I assume my experience is not uncommon. I don’t know that for certain though and I find that as I get older I hate making assumptions when the answers are right there. Thus, I’m doing something I don’t usually do and break the fourth wall for a moment.
Have you ever experienced that feeling?