When I finish reading a book or book series, I have a cathartic moment where I reflect on the story, the author, and what I imagine would happen next if the story continued. The better the book, the longer this process lingers in the background of my thoughts. Some authors evoke a strong feeling of gratitude for their work. It’s intense. I don’t think it’s hero worship. More like admiration for what they have accomplished and shared, and my assumption that I’ve only seen a glimpse of their spirit. I have no idea what struggles they are facing now, and have already conquered on their journey through life. I don’t data mine personal information about people I admire. It too often has no relevance to what the person has shared consensually.
I think it’s cathartic because when you consider what an author gives you, there isn’t really any way to return an equally enthralling gift. You’re now permanently in their debt, but you don’t mind because the gift lasts a lifetime. That’s pretty big. I guess I think of all exchanges as optimally equal. I think we readers got the best deal in life. We can purchase an entire world for less than $200. We can also purchase a tailored soundtrack to our own lives for about the same amount of money. Free if you’re a pirate, matey! But I think stealing from an artist is a karmic taboo of fantastical proportions. For me, books and music are the art forms I favor the most. I read a lot of books. Some of them are entertaining while reading, and then quickly forgotten. Some are exciting, interesting, and informative. But a few are so powerful that they reach deep within us, and become part of our life story and soundtrack. Movies don’t reach me in this way. Too much of my attention is tied up in anxiety management to allow the story to sink in.
When reading a book, I let go of my own world almost immediately after entering the new world. I’m still aware after a bit of prodding, but completely absorbed. I think this is me doing my part as a reader in the reader/writer relationship. It’s a fascinating relationship. It’s imaginary, for one thing. It’s the imaginary friendships for people of all ages. The author shares some of their imaginings. You add your own imaginings and mental imagery automatically as you read. It’s a flat world that builds up gradually, and reveals itself across a journey. You, as the reader, get to come along and experience it too. We got the best deal ever. I have gone through the, “I want to be a writer” stage of my life a few times. Each time, I begin to imagine the world I’m about to create. But I never get very far into this process before I’m off on a tangent based on something I read in someone else’s book. I quickly come to the conclusion that I would have to cut back on reading in order to be a writer. I’m not willing to make that sacrifice. Therefore, I’m a reader. Not a writer.
I think J. K. Rowling is my favorite author of all time for now. She bumped Charles Dickens. No easy feat, that. I laugh to myself when people claim the Harry Potter books are for children. So close. The Harry Potter books will make anyone who reads them become a child, regardless of their age. And as you take the journey through the Potter world, you feel that part of you that will always be a child giggle with glee. When you hear that sound, you’re instantly transported back in time to that happy period in your childhood when you last remember feeling completely care free. It’s amazing how some books can trigger this. For me, the Harry Potter books are among a few others that have reached me so intensely they’ve become part of my own story.