Sometimes it takes me a while to digest a book. I know people who can just plow through book after book and never look back. I'm not one of those people.
I have to let it sit, sink in. I have to let the emotional dust settle. This can take as little as a few hours or as long as a few days, but it's part of the process for me. It goes to the core of what reading is. And I'm not telling you anything new here.
Reading is an emotional rollercoaster. It's intended to be. Books give you windows into other walks of life. Really, they're more like one way mirrors. You watch and get drawn into the drama on the other side then you internalize it. The gears of your mind start to turn and as you process all the information you just took in you find some reflection of self or reality or some small truth. People find truth in seemingly trivial, silly things. This happens to me all the time while reading or watching movies or even just people watching.
I guess that's why I can't just spit my thoughts on a book out right after I've finished it. Reading isn't a task for me. Reading should never be a task. It is an experience, often a very personal one. Books can be hillarious and deep and heartbreaking and they can fill you with life and laughter in your darkest times.
I recall late last year when a friend started reading a book that I recommended to her. She bought it mid-day and it took her less than 24 hours, with work in the middle, to finish. When she was done we talked.
I asked her if she enjoyed the book. She told me that enjoyed wasn't the right term. She said that the book really resonated with her. That it's message spoke to her and that she found herself unable to reshelve it because the experience wasn't over yet. She wasn't ready to let that book go. She said, "Susan, I feel like I need a good cry."
My friend is in the military, where, as some of you may know, suicide is the second leading cause of death. That was the topic of the book, but it had nothing to do with the military. While it wasn't entirely personal for her, it did hit close to home because it is such a big issue in her community. She saw truths in that book that illustrated a story that's been told in the larger military community one too many times.
The book was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
What I'm saying is that books are more than a good read. Not all books set out with a message, but that doesn't mean that there's no truth in them. Books, even those set in entirely fictional worlds full of mythical creatures, are about life. The human (or inhuman) condition and a person's relationship with the world around them.
Books teach me, and not in that rote memorization kind of way. And, believe it or not, you can learn things from books you don't like on the whole. They are triggers. They kick-start the imagination and generate questions. They make me realize how poingnant the little things can be.
Time isn't something I have a lot of day to day, and books remind me that it's okay to stop and smell the roses and the like. Life is too short and too beautiful and too full of wonder to get caught up in the minutiae or the pettiness. Reading leaves me with a certain kind of satisfaction, even if the book leave me upset, and renewed appreciation for life and all those living it.