When You're Not Ready to Say Goodbye to that Book Just Yet....
by K. Allen McNamara
“There was just something about this book - I just couldn’t put it down. I even got up early so I could finish it. And now, well you know...” my friend's voice trails off. We keep walking. Because, I do know. And my friend knows I know.
The horrible ache of when a book is done. When a book is so good that you cannot seem to get enough of it. So you binge read even though you know by doing so you you will finish it too quickly and then what I call the “book-grief period” will begin.
Often when I have finished a “really, really, really” good book (note the excited eight year old in me) I go through a grieving period. I pick up other books and put them down. I google: “If you liked X then you might like to read Y” comparisons. I also search to see if there is an installment scheduled or if the author has written other “stand-alone” books that may be equally “as good”. I read articles about the book, critiques of the book and interviews with the author.
I become an obsessed fan. A groupie of sorts and would gladly work as roadie for this book if it meant I got to read it again and fall in love with it again with the same intensity. And this is why I love owning an electronic copy of the book in addition to the hard copy of the book. The e-book is like having the best highlights of a concert, ball game or other venue on replay. Let me explain:
When I read the hard copy or paperback I fold the corners of the bottom of the pages if I really liked a particular description, a word choice, or a passage of dialogue. I do this a reader who reads these sentences and paragraphs and thinks: that is SO true or who laughs out loud or even sheds a tear. The writer in me, who constantly tries to understand how an author has captured me and suspended me in their snow globe, also demands that I underscore these passages and my solution has always been the tiny corner fold.
However, with the e-book, I am able to highlight my favorite passages on my Kindle and when the exquisite book is over I create “flashcards” - digital flashcard versions of these highlighted quotes are at my disposal.
Before drifting off to sleep that first night (or second or third night) without my beloved book, I flip through these digital flashcards. And then the beautiful assemblage of words are able to savored once more. It far easier to summon these pieces of prose with a flash card then by scanning the page with the folded corner for the right sentence.
Yes, I still read the hard copy at home curled up on the sofa or at the beach but at night or when I travel, I read the ebook version. (I often own both a hard copy and an ebook of the same title) Of course to get a full set of flashcards necessitates that I mesh my folded over corners with the digital copy. Time consuming? Perhaps. But when a book is SO good it warrants a bit of fussing.
Reading these flashcards from my Kindle is like looking at an old photo album and reliving the memories. As a writer the flash cards give me the means of studying from a master. With them, I am able to see the brush stroke or charcoal outline reapplied again and again creating from the blank canvas a figure or landscape. Instead of paint or crayon, the author's words caught on my flashcards conjure a character or a situation. But more importantly, as the grieving reader, the one who has lived in the author’s fictional world, these cards provide solace when I’m not quite ready to pick up the next book, when I'm not ready to say goodbye just yet.