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On Finishing a Novel

I  just finished reading Adam Bede by George Eliot. It  is amazing, and officially my new favourite book — go read it, yes, I do mean right now. Except, I don’t know if it’s really in my list of favourites (and if it is, it’s lower down on the list). Because, as brilliant is it was, I’m really not sure how I feel about the ending… (no spoilers though, seriously, please go read it, now! It’s really not a very popular book and I have no idea why, it’s fantastic. Perhaps it’s been overshadowed by Middlemarch? (Which, by the by, I have not read, but I hear it isn’t even as good!))

Adam Bede

The thing is, I never really know what to do when I finish reading a book. Especially a good book… which has taken me way too long to get through. It’s normally a rather bitter-sweet affair. Normally the books I read have, if not happy, then at least satisfactory endings. They either end with a rush of happy or a rush of thought-provoking brilliance. But, the problem is, then it’s over! If I’ve been plowing through the book because it’s brilliant and a relatively “easy” read, I tend to majorly slow down as I approach the end. I start rationing chapters, carefully making sure not to exceed one per day, hoping to make it last for as long as possible. Conversely, sometimes I take ages and centuries to get through a book because while it’s still brilliant, it’s also written in fancy old (beautiful) language (making it hard to plow through) and I’m preoccupied with this little thing called school and other books which keep getting in the way. In that case, by the time I near the end, I start speeding up to see how it turns out already, making sure to read at least one chapter a day.

But then when I reach the end? What then? I never quite know what to do, how to deal with it. If it’s a warm, fuzzy, smiley ending, I feel like it’s impossible to resume my daily activities, and leave that state of warm fuzz. If it’s a brilliant, thought-provoking ending, I feel like I should sit and contemplate it’s brilliance and the thoughts it provokes. It’s a “how can lowly Data Management homework follow that?” sort of feeling.

So I’m stuck and it’s kind of awkward. I feel like  I’m supposed to sit and revel in the book’s ending, holding it to my chest and soaking in its brilliance. But I also feel like a normal person (i.e. someone other than myself) might just carry on with life as they normally would (whether “carrying on with life” consists of doing homework or having an actual life).

When I read Pride and Prejudice for the first (and second and third) time I had a rather unique (read crazy) way of dealing with the inevitable fate of reaching the end. I would read the final words, close it, hold it close to my chest enjoying the fuzziness, then open it up, go back to “a truth universally acknowledged” and repeat. I repeated about three or four times before it occurred to me that there was anything at all abnormal about this.

So what to do now? I think I’ve found the perfect solution — BLOG ABOUT IT!

Do you have any rituals upon completion of a brilliant (or far from brilliant) novel? Am I the only one who’s done four consecutive re-reads?


About Elizabeth Anne

I’m obsessed with novels, short stories, poetical works &c., and my family has refused to put up with my ranting and raving about these things any longer, so I’ve decided to ramble to you, the internet.

4 responses »

  1. You are definitely not the only obsessive re-reader! I think I’m actually quite pathetic when it comes to finishing a good book. Harry Potter’s end, for example, was utterly devastating. I went so far as to actually sob for the better part of an hour. And then began rereading the entire seven book series over and over again until I finally came to terms with the fact that there is a whole wide world of literature out there waiting for me to sink my teeth into.

  2. It depends upon the novel. I read some novels and then breathe a sigh of relief when I’m done because for me the book was difficult to get through (example: War & Peace), With other books, I think “ahhh, that was wonderful” and hungrily search for more books by the same author.

    • I’ve also had sigh of relief novels. 1984, Mrs. Dalloway (both of which I read for school) and Wuthering Heights come to mind. (Although once we talked about 1984 and Mrs. D in class, I ended up liking them…)


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