The end has no end

9:31 AM

One of the most enjoyable experiences to me is finishing a book. For some, is buying a book, for others is starting it, for some crazies is beginning Chapter 5. I like all those things too, but nothing beats that final page rush.

I'd say I have more or less three common but different reactions when I finish a book.

The "I'm not ready to leave yet" reaction: this is how I feel every time I finish a Jane Austen novel. I am like: “I am staying right here. No one is taking me from this lovely Victorian style beige chair.”  

The "my mind is blown" reaction:  this is how I feel when I finish Shakespeare's plays. It's like the silence in the end of a real play presentation where you can only look to the person next to you, say "wow", stand up and clap. 

The "I made it" reaction: this is how I feel when I finish difficult books. It's a mixed sense of relief and accomplishment. When I got to the last page of Practical Criticism, which took me three months to finish, it was like Rocky I: arms up, little imaginary jumps, "I finished Practical Criticism!"

After my overreaction I went back to the first page of this book and saw it written: “P.B. Peters ’08”. That’s how I used to sign my name.  I thought it sounded like a writer’s name, similar to D. H. Lawrence, J.D. Salinger or even I. A. Richards, the author of Practical Criticism.

I also used to write down my names in books. And used to date them. I do none of these things now. 

So, I guess part of the experience of finishing a book is realizing you’re not the same. And as you’re saying goodbye to all those book characters and authors you’re also saying goodbye to the person that you were before beginning that book. Every great book leaves an impression on us and, ideally, changes us in some way. We were one person when we started reading that book and we are another now we finished it. 

In general, though, I am much more immature when it comes to finishing books. I set up goals, I look forward to finishing them, I begin my daily reading by checking how many pages are left. But it's the same approach I have towards beauty products. I use them every day eagerly but deep down I want them to finish fast so I can buy others.

How do you feel about finishing books? What book were you excited or sad to finish?

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  1. It reminds me of a story ... MY love story (though short ...) with The razor's edge. I couldn't read it at 18, fell in love with it at 25 ... When I read it (at 25), I felt a sense of outrage when the book came to the end. The, I started reading it again. The "it blew my mind" end was "The picture of Dorian Gray". OUTSTANDING!!! The sad ones: The three musketeers and Yhe Count of Monte Cristo. They were part of my "family". And so on ...

  2. (Oh, you just reminded me that I never finished "Of human bondage"...) It's great that you came back to "The razor's edge", I didn't with "Of Human Bondage" - though I probably should.

    Yes, Dorian Gray is mind blowing. When I first read it I already knew the end which was a bummer. I really envy those who read this book without knowing much about it.

    I almost put The three musketeers in my Classics Club list, it was a tough call. But I have a serious weak spot for the musketeers, which is probably your and my mother's doing. I'll watch whatever musketeer movie they launch - and will love it. xx

  3. When I finish a book, if it is a difficult one or if I am reading it because of my work, I’ve got the “I made it” reaction. With discipline and training, like Rocky, I’ve got some practical knowledge which I can use in my work or in a test. So arms up and some punches in the air. Mission accomplished.
    When I finish a literary book, a good one, my reaction changes and I go for the “I’m not ready to leave yet”. The history, the surroundings, the characters, I want to stay there. For instance, recently I’ve read “Around the world in 80 days”. And I was sad when the journey ended it. And I wanted to go again around the world.
    Definitely, we are not the same after each book. In the Victorian age, Phileas Fogg, methodical character, shows us coolness, braveness and even heartedness sacrificing itself to save the others, while all its fortune is at stake.
    We cannot be the same after the end of a great book, as we are not the same after the end of each chapter of our lives.
    After each end, there is a new beginning. There is a new person.
    And I would love to meet that person.
    There are a lot of pages waiting to be reading and blank pages to be filling up.
    Great post! ;)

  4. "Around the world in 80 days" is definitely a very exciting book. I'm not that much of a Jules Verne fan, but I see what you mean. ;)


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