I don’t know about you guys but sometimes when I read a book, I find myself so invested with the story line and the characters that I just can’t put it down. I will literally be sat on my sofa until stupid o’clock, having to force myself to close the book and go to bed. This rarely happens as it’s not often I find myself so captivated by a book, but when it does, *insert Janice* OH MY GOD.
I recently read Sally Rooney’s Normal People. It was a beautiful read. It was such a warm comforting, every day kinda romance between two ordinary people whose lives, though so different are entwined in every way. And regardless of what they do, or where life takes them, it’s inevitable that their paths will forever cross. Whether you put it down to fate, or simple mere coincidence, it’s clear that Connell and Marianne are meant to be together.
With characters, depending on how they are written, we may see parts of ourselves in them or our friends and family members. Or alternatively, characters so out of the ordinary and all that is familiar to us that we are so fascinated, and sometimes perplexed by this fictional absurdity. The literature we read may reflect our own feelings and emotions regarding a specific situation, or perhaps a moment in time in the not so distant past. On the other hand, the literature may be so out of what we consider our norm, that we escape to the pages from our hectic and chaotic lives. Seeking serenity, jumping across worlds through words dancing on a page.
I find that books are very much a metaphor for our relationships in life. In the sense that, when you come across a book, you pick it up. You look at it. You analyse it and read the blurb. You judge the book by its cover and its perceived summarised content, on the back. When we meet someone, we make a preconceived judgement in our head of what that said person is like. As we get to know that person, that judgement may change, or it may not.
Depending on the direction of the narrative, stories and plots can be a real roller coaster ride, full of twists and turns, surprises and climaxes. Or, they can be a walk in the park on a cold yet sunny day – bright, not warm, chilly, not cold, quiet, not silent but nonetheless, pure serenity and bliss.
A few months ago, I read Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption. Whilst it is considered highly acclaimed literature, I was bored out of my wits. The plot itself was interesting but the writing, was convoluted. I found myself going back on previous paragraphs and pages, reading extracts two or three times to find meaning. The last time something like this happened was when I was forcing myself to read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I kid you not, I read the first page at least eleven times. Once I got past the first page, the rest of the book was a breeze. I wish I could say the same for Shawshank.
Jane Eyre seemed a bit meh initially, but as I read on, the feminist tones of the novel, aspects of her childhood and the themes of the colonial world spoke to me. Sometimes we meet a person in life; at work, school, university or a social event etc. That first interaction may seem a bit meh, you may think nothing of it, but as time passes, you cross paths again and again. The conversations and dialogue between you two are so organic. You’re able to speak for ages about anything, but at the same time, find comfort in each other’s silence. There is no awkwardness. Other times, you may click with a person immediately or you’re surrounded by them due to chance. As time goes on however, you find that this relationship, despite you bonding initially, or being in each other’s lives for whatever reason, albeit work or family friends, this relationship was meant to be nothing more than just a mere ‘hello’, if even that.
As our eyes begin to drift whilst we fall asleep on the sofa, or we reach our tube stop, we know it’s time to close the book. We know we have to close the chapter, otherwise we’ll lose our place, or alternatively, inconvenience ourselves by altering our journey. We need to know when to turn a chapter, but also when to close a chapter. When to re-read previous extracts, giving the book another chance, maybe even three, but also knowing when to put the book back where it belongs and walking away, because this book is not the book for you.
Regardless of how invested you may become in a book, or a person, or how long you have had this book on your shelf, or how long you have known this person, sometimes a book, like a person, just isn’t for you. People change, sub plots can be full of nasty surprises. Relationships wither, pages collect dust. Or, a person’s true colours reveal themselves, the same way, the murderer’s identity, revealed at the end of a crime novel is usually the person(s) you’d least suspect.
Regardless of how much you have read a book, or have become invested in a book, if you don’t want to continue reading it, you don’t have to. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s okay to put it down and never pick it up again. The same way, it’s okay to close a chapter with a person because they’re just not for you, regardless of how long you have known them; how close you have become or the supposed connection you share.