This will come as a shock to no one, but I read a lot of books. I counted my personal collection the other day and it’s tapped out at 576 not including duplicates, textbooks, or whatever is packed away in my attic which, as memory serves, is quite a bit. I don’t love everything I read, and I keep some things simply because they were interesting and not because they moved me or were particularly well written, but every once in a while it hits me.
I’ve always considered book hangover to be a bit of a pain in the ass because I felt like I couldn’t crack open a new spine even though my shelves are lined with lots of worlds and people I haven’t met yet. But I’m coming to a new conclusion.
I believe that while we read for different reasons, and we all chose different things, some books simply aren’t meant for us. Sometimes we just aren’t ready for what a book has to give. There have been plenty of books, over the years, that I didn’t really get or appreciate but friends or family would feel as though their worlds had been warped. They experienced something real within those pages and I didn’t. For better or worse, those opportunities were lost on me. The time wasn’t right or I wasn’t ready. And I understand. I feel a twinge of sadness whenever I recommend something that truly means something to me, and the other person doesn’t get it.
As book lovers, it’s natural for us to review these worlds and these characters because we spend a significant amount of our time and money to experience them. And it’s very easy to tear them apart, to break the words down and shatter the illusion. Not every book is brilliant, but some shine brighter for us simply because of who we are and where we were in our lives at that moment. And for others that book is just a book. No better or worse than any other.
I used to really hate book hangover, and an hour ago I finished reading Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour and while I thought I’d finish another book tonight, I can’t bring myself to step out of that world yet. I think that maybe when we find a book that hits home, it can be hard to let go of because it made us feel. It made us rethink or reevaluate ourselves and to leave that moment early would be dishonest. I think that book hangover is really a way of acknowledging that something important just happened and we need to wallow in this feeling where our world view, our personal spirit, has changed. It’s trying to incorporate this feeling, this new knowledge into the labyrinth of our preexisting ideas of who we are and who we could be.
Maybe this is just how I experience books, but there are books that I loved because they were beautiful, and then there are books that I love for reasons I can’t explain. I can try and list the reasons, I can tell you what happened in the story, but I will always fall short of that moment where it stopped being a set of pages and words, and it became this thing that tore its way into my soul. Those books I remember. I remember how I felt and I remember where I was when I read them. I remember sobbing over The Book Thief in bed, clutching it to my chest and wondering about lost opportunities and unfortunate circumstance. I remember tears streaming down my face, soaking the edge of my blanket when I finished The Tragedy Papers and the way I looked and my husband and relived our life and our hopes and our beautiful love story that was all ours and is perfect. I remember reading Looking For Alaska and deciding that I wouldn’t kill myself in a fit of depression unless I understood how the people around me would survive and I remember how it made me decide to get up and finish writing the book I had abandoned because I needed to feel like I left a mark that mattered.
And tonight I finished Everything Leads To You and I found this confidence that I could survive what’s going on in my own family and my own home and that I’d be perfectly happy with Emi’s hanging plants and Ava’s cup of tea and that I’m not as stuck or hopeless as I felt this morning. This was the perfect book for me, right now. Even though I saw where the book was going 130 pages in. Even though I knew what the ending would be and where things would stop. Even though I picked it up because I’d heard good things and I figured, hey, why not? And instead of being just a fun lovely romp, it touched me, and I wasn’t expecting it. It’s funny how that happens. How the feelings that build as you read, can hang around after the cover’s closed. After you’ve placed it on your shelf and hit the play button on your life again but thing aren’t quite where you left them.
This isn’t really a review of that book, and to be honest, it isn’t much more than the ramblings of a young woman who loves to read and isn’t really sure of her place in the world, but I loved this world in particular. So here’s my ramble, and I’d like to tell you that I loved this book despite predictability and the fact that it’s not the sort of thing I normally read. Everything Leads To You is about two friends who discover a letter, penned by a famous and recently deceased actor, addressed to the woman he loved. They follow the letter to it’s conclusion and I don’t really want to tell you more because the story itself is simple but the moments it creates, the world it inhabits is breath taking. This is a love story about two woman finding themselves. It’s about family, and the differences of who we are for ourselves, who we become for other people, and who we hope to be. It’s a story about home, and relationships, friendship, and growing up and it touched me. Maybe, in this moment, it’s the right book for you too.