Anyone who’s ever read a book they had a hard time getting over, raise your hand.
A book that leaves a lingering ache in your gut, just by being over. A book that breaks your heart not with a sad ending but by ending, period. A book that hurts to close and set on the shelf, so maybe you leave it around for a few days, on the kitchen table or by your bed, so you can open it again, and reread a scene, and prove to yourself that The End doesn’t have to be forever.
I mean, when a book really grabs you, really tears up your insides with suspense and angst and star-crossed romance and whatever, it’s so hard to walk away from that.
One of the first times I remember being haunted badly was after Jane Eyre. It was like breaking an addiction. I couldn’t quit cold-turkey. I couldn’t just shut the book and be done with those characters. Not after everything we’d been through together!
So I hunted down two movie versions: a black-and-white with a pretty, blond Jane; and a ’90s film with a brunette Jane so plain-looking that I spent the whole movie deconstructing our fundamental need to have attractive lead actors. Neither movie “did it” for me. Nothing could–except reading the book itself on endless repeat.
Goodreads helps a little. At least I get to “talk” about the book for a minute, read what other people thought of it, maybe get a few comments from friends who enjoyed it, too.
This weekend I got sucked into a book so haunting that even the cover and the title and the color of the text inside (same as the dark blue of the cover) fit the mood I’m in after. (I put a picture of it here because I think just looking at it can give you the idea.) There’s a melancholy I can’t shake off, even though one of my goodreads pals chatted with me about our predictions for the sequel right after.
The melancholy is frustrating sometimes.
I have other favorite books that feel just right at the end, that feel like a satisfied sigh, where I close them happily and give them a hug before fitting them snuggly back into their space on the bookcase, giving the spine a last look, thinking, “You are great. I’m so glad you get to live here at my house, available whenever I want to hang out with you again.”
And that’s it. No remorse. I can move on to the next book easily, whereas the books I’m haunted by make it hard to pick up something else.
But on the plus side, haunting books stir up something that intensifies my love of writing. Strangely, the lingering attachment to what I’ve just read often transfers to my own work-in-progress, enhancing my emotional connection to my own characters.
Yeah, crazy; I know.
I’m not sure how many comments I can coax out of readers (or even how many readers I have at this point), but I’d love to know what books wouldn’t let go of you and how you feel about that versus the happy-sigh variety.