I Have A Problem

I have a problem. I love to read books, but that’s not my problem. Not just read books but, savor them, run their words over my mental palette, and slowly digest the meaning and the memory suggested by the author. But I have a problem. I sometime stop reading a book for days and read another book or two, and all the while, reflecting on and telepathically (as Stephen King suggests in his book On Writing) communicate with the author and his characters. But I have a problem. I go back to the book I stopped reading and sometimes pick up where I left off or start over or go back a few pages. My problem is I don’t want the book to end. Sometimes I can’t stop reading and find myself too near the end of the book but then, I stop.    

This happened to me during the past few days. I started re-reading Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes on Tuesday. It is about a man with mental retardation that is chosen to undergo an operation to increase his intelligence. It describes Charlie’s life before and after the operation. It is also a story about a mouse named Algernon. I read a few chapters and stopped for a couple of days. I picked it up on Thursday and read a few pages. I got up to page 60 and stopped. You see, I read the book many years ago and I saw the movie Charly (with Cliff Robertson) that was based on the book. It was one of the saddest books and movies I had ever seen. (In the years since then, I have spent time working with the mentally challenged. I believe on some level this book influenced my choice to do so.)

Well, I picked the book up on Saturday and continued reading through the book. I stopped with a few chapters left to read. My problem caused me do it. I spent a few hours Saturday and a few hours Sunday thinking about the book. It didn’t move me as much as it had when I first read it, but it still did move me. I thought about Charlie and the other characters in the novel, the role of science. I pondered my own intelligence, what I have done with my intelligence.

All of these ideas, concepts and some questions swirled around in my mind as I finished the book on Sunday. Now that I finished the book, my problem still confronts me. Now that I finished the book, I still want to experience the characters and the world they live in. If it were part of a trilogy or series I could. Or like Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson which is 1168 pages. But it is not. So I will either have to read it again or let the story go, let the world dissolve into my memory until I read it again or see the movie again. I face this problem every time I read a book.

How about you? Do you face this problem? Do you try to make a book last longer and fight the impulse to finish reading it because you are hungry to know what happens next? Do you hunger for the book because you love the world your author has telepathically communicated to you? Are you able to pause and savor the story and prolong your experience the universe the writer has created? Please let me know if you have this problem, too.

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