Books on Ventilators: My Irrational Fear of Letting a Good Story Pass On

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Have you ever read a book you enjoyed so much that you delayed finishing it, even to an absurd extreme? I’m reading a book like that now, The Dragon’s Tooth, by one of my favorite living authors, N.D. Wilson. It’s not really a life-changing book (as his Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl is), but sometimes that’s better. It’s a really fun, true-hearted book. And that’s what I need right now. But do I need to end it?

My full reading attention is not on The Dragon’s Tooth right now. We recently had a lovely baby girl. Well, I suppose it was mostly my wife who had her. But I was there, cutting cords like a very minor celebrity at the grand opening of a new human. (I had other responsibilities as well.) I’ll spare you the litany of excuses as to why I haven’t finished this book. But, for now, the last fifty pages hang out there like an unresolved note. A little tense, but playfully inviting. Promising. I love that it’s out there, waiting to be read. I don’t feel a great need to rush in and end it. But this isn’t exactly novel for me.

I realize this is something I sometimes do. I am comfortable, at times, with not finishing some of my favorite books right away. I want the experience to extend, to freeze time in the grand, cooperative world of the author’s words and my imaginary visions. I find myself not wanting this union to end, forestalling the time when we once again break up into our various confederacies. Stay with me, Dear Story, just a little while longer.

I hate spoilers. I will employ the irritating “La-la-la! I can’t hear you!” method of disrupting a person’s blabbing revelations of a book they wish to discuss in more detail than is appropriate in mixed company. (Mixed between the Have-enjoyeds and As-of-yet-have-not-enjoyeds –groups that should only be mixed under careful, sterile, laboratory conditions.) But hey, if you’re like me, and you sometimes don’t finish what you started, then no worries.

Another Human Bean: “Have you read The Dragon’s Tooth by N.D. Wilson?”
Sam Smith: “Yeah, I love that book.”
Another Human Bean: “Don’t spoil the ending for me.”
Sam Smith: “Don’t worry.”

But really, there are very few books that fit into this category. The Dragon’s Tooth is excellent, but another part of my delay in finishing it is that the sequel is coming out soon. I’m shortening my inter-series wait every day that I don’t finish the book.

But seriously.

There’s one book in my library which I have read twice, and recommended to probably fifty people. But there’s something I haven’t told those fifty people. A small qualifier to my statement that I’ve “read the book.”

I haven’t been able to read the last few pages. The book moved me, very deeply moved me. When I first read it, it got to me (masculine disguise language for you-know-what) multiple times. I felt like I couldn’t handle whatever she was going to say at the end. She had me in her heart, or I had her in mine, and she wasn’t even a scientifically “real” person. But she was and is real. Hannah Coulter is real.

Am I crazy? Maybe this reveals an unwillingness to accept reality and the different stages of life, like the aging of children, the death of grandparents. I’ll ‘fess up to that.

Maybe I’m a coward, unwilling to forgo the guidance of the author, saying, “Hold my hand a little longer, won’t you?”

Lewis said, “We read to know we’re not alone.” And we’re not, but we can feel like it when we read, “The End.” Then it’s back to our own story, which is shaped by the one we just finished. We are all we have ever read, and more. Not alone, but sometimes lonely.

I know the end is never really an end, but that we’re left to our own imagined ever-afters.

I need to grow up and finish reading Hannah Coulter. I need to go to her deathbed and hear her last words. Maybe, as with Jacob, there’s an arms-crossed blessing to be had. But I think I’ll remain convinced that finishing a wonderful book, or a fantastic series, is one of the happiest sad things we do.

Do you do this? Or, do you have any other reading quirks? I’ll read your comments to (hopefully) know I’m not alone.

(Image above: Joel Courtney –he of Super 8– in a still from The Dragon’s Tooth book trailer.)


54 Comments

  1. Chris

    Well, the sequel is coming out September 11, so maybe if you read like, a few words a day, then you can just continue the story. And then when we’re at Hutchmoot I’ll ask, “Have you read The Drowned Vaults?”……

  2. Becca

    It changes my pretty-much everything to know that there are people somewhere out in the world who love stories this much.

  3. Jay

    I have definitely deliberately slowed my reading in order to not finish a book. My highest praise when recommending a book to someone is, “I couldn’t read it slow enough.” The last book that fell in that category for me was Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. Man, I loved that story. My reading slow down may stem from my odd quirk of never re-reading something I have already read. Whether it is because there is too much out there new to conquer or some other deep psychological reason that I refuse to decipher, I will not go back and read a book a second time. That means when I am done reading a book there is a certain finality to the experience. Enough of this comment section analysis! Know that you are not alone!

  4. Melissa O

    While I finish books, I will often drag out the ones I’m willing to let go for quite a while. You have me beat on this particular drag session though! My bigger characteristic is that I drag out reading series probably longer than anyone I know. AND, I often don’t read the last book in any series I love until I can’t stand not knowing anymore. I like to know that there’s “one left” that holds that for-the-first-time magic in it, unspoiled.

    I have also not read – and plan not to read – the last books in series that I have heard really disappointed other readers or spoiled a series altogether. I prefer not knowing how it ends and keeping my enchantment than finishing.

    Series of course aren’t the only types of books I do this with. I have never read the last Jane Austen. I don’t suppose I will ever be able to close the last page on the last C.S. Lewis I ever read. I never want to see the last Madeleine L’engle title I haven’t read. Somehow, these authors are still out there – alive and speaking – if there’s a book I haven’t touched. When I’ve read the last of all they had to say, it feels like they’ve died all over again. I know that sounds morbid, but I’ve experienced it and don’t like it. As long as there are untouched words, I can see them still walking out there somewhere. I have not learned all they have yet to teach – they are living mentors.

  5. Hannah S.

    Oh my goodness. You MUST finish Hannah Coulter. It’s so wonderful. And following on that, go read Jayber Crow. It’s better. Really.

    My mom’s comment on finishing HC– “I miss her! There are times when I want to call her up and talk about my day, but then I remember that I can’t.”

    I do this with books, too. On a less refined level, I refused for years to read Rilla of Ingleside, because Walter dies. I think it’s time I moved on from that, so I suppose I’ll read it eventually.

  6. James Witmer

    I relate very strongly to the feeling of loss at the end of a series or even a great book.

    But I cannot bear not to finish them.

    And I love to re-read good stories, but the more they move me, the longer I need before I can come back to them, and it’s rare that the ending affects me the same way a second time, no matter how moved I am by re-reading the story.

    Must be something unique about grieving the loss that first time?

    I especially appreciate you putting a name to that loss – loneliness. That’s exactly it. I’m not the friend I wish I was to my actual, human friends, yet I somehow have the capacity to genuinely miss raising a glass or tramping the woods with Edmund Pevensie.

  7. Chris Whitler

    I don’t put off finishing a book for this reason. I have reading seasons where I devour books and then reading deserts where I do not read. I’m currently in a desert and I don’t know what brings this on other than busy-ness.

    I do remember being actually depressed to finish “The Lord of the Rings”. When Sam says his final thing I put the book down and was officially in mourning. I didn’t read again until Byzantium by Steven Lawhead caught my eye. Aedan’s quest cured my broken heart.

  8. KJ

    I have to get to the end – I can’t stand not knowing. But that doesn’t mean I read fast. My quirk is reading by sounding everything in my head, playing the movie in my mind, having it all “come to life”. Pete once ‘fessed up to this so I know I’m not alone.

  9. Jess

    YES. In fact, I did that with The Dragon’s Tooth itself. Which is why I laughed at this post (so-called coincidences always strike my funny bone). Although I admit I have never actually put off reading the ending so long that I don’t read the ending at all. But my heart always aches unbearably when I’m done. Yes, Chris W, I was in depression for two weeks after LOTR. And many other books. Being a pathetic human being sometimes has its disadvantages. 😉

  10. The One True Stickman

    Putting off the ending is something I have never, ever done before and am not typically sympathetic to. (Sorry.) I typically become engrossed in a book for hours at a time, reading late into the night, etc., and at the expense of many other things, rather than not know what happens next.

    However, I have lately found it necessary to severely diet my reading of Fiddler’s Green right now, only reading for what time I can afford on my lunch break. This is partly practical (preventing me from becoming – temporarily – an absentee husband/father), but partly a coping mechanism because I’m scared of where Pete’s taking me and have no idea where/how Fin is going to end up.

    I also put off reading Fiddler’s Green for months because it took my brain that long to recover from Fiddler’s Gun. Why does great fiction make my mind explode inside and take forever to sort out again? Can we fix that so I can get on with what comes next already?

  11. The One True Stickman

    Oh, and yes, I also know the loneliness. (Jess, Chris, James etc.) It’s been too long since I’ve read LotR so I don’t recall that, but I had the same feeling after finally completing the Harry Potter series last summer. It’s like I m in denial that my suspension of disbelief must end and that world I was in is now fading away.

  12. Laura Peterson

    Man, I love this place. And this post. And these comments.

    Sam (and everybody else), I confess I find myself more often in the opposite camp–racing to finish a book to find out what happens. I can think of so many stories (Little Women and Peace Like a River come to mind right off the bat) with last lines or paragraphs that seem to me to be the perfect ending. They draw out the tears that have been lurking in the corners of my eyes or put a smile of relief on my face, realizing that we have come safely to the end. Some of my favorite moments in reading are just after finishing a good story, when I can sit for a few moments and turn the book over in my hands and think about the journey we’ve just completed together. I think I need that wrapped-up, whole experience, especially when I’m welcoming the story as a bit of an escape from my very open-ended life. But yes, it is a happy-sad feeling, especially with longer books or series. I needed several days to recover from finishing Harry Potter, and I suspect I should block out a chunk of time dedicated to AP’s Wingfeather Saga as well. James W., I liked what you said about have a different experience the second time you read a story. I think that’s very true.

    Hannah S. – Oh, do give Rilla a chance! She’s delightful, and the chapters about Walter do make me cry, but they’re good and thankful tears.

    (Note: as I typed “My favorite moment in reading” in the paragraph above here, a voice came into my head with those same words. It was Hector, the teacher in Alan Bennet’s play “The History Boys,” and the whole quote is this, I think: “The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” It’s a good scene.)

  13. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I sort of relate to this but not with books. I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a TV show I loved after it was off the air and I raced through the series only to put off watching the final couple of episodes for months. I just couldn’t bear for it to be over, and as long as those unwatched episodes remained it wasn’t really over for me.

    I mostly finish books, though, unless they are boring.

  14. Eowyn

    I read The Dragon’s Tooth not long ago and really enjoyed it (anyone else notice the Treasure Island parellels?). Funny how Rabbit Roomers always end up reading the same books. Naturally, because we’re cool. Anyway.

    Another Human Bean. Hmm…is this a subtle reference to the beans, eggs and crumpets of the Drones Club?

    Very few books affect me enough anymore that I want to delay finishing (the last I can think of was probably AP’s latest Wingfeather installment, though Andrew Klavan’s Homelander’s series counts as well). If it’s a really long book, I probably won’t worry about whipping through it, but if it’s short, I drag it out. However, I have yet to bring myself to read Curtain, by Agatha Christie. The bald, round Belgian detective with the odd mustache will live on in my mind. At least…until the movie comes out this fall – which might force me to read it.

  15. Carl

    I know what you are saying, and then, I don’t. For me, it all depends on the book. As contrasting examples of this, it took me a year to read- no, digest- Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in bit-sized portions. And I think this was not by accident. If I were to race through a book such as that, it just wouldn’t feel right. On the other hand, I was a late-comer to Harry Potter and read the entire series in a couple of months, one right after the other. Man, was that a glorious whirlwind!

  16. RonH

    N. D. Wilson is fantastic. The “100 Cupboards” trilogy is brilliant. Few juvie fiction (???) authors have the grasp of Story that Wilson does. (Them Peterson boys are doing just fine too, BTW…)

    I’ve never been able to finish the Hornblower series by C. S. Forester. I first read (almost all of) it as a teenager. I’ve reread most of those books again as an adult. But I can’t read the last one because then it will all be… over.

  17. Zack

    Haha! I do this too. For the same reasons you have, I think. I have never articulated them and I’m glad you did.

    I feel as if my favorite books are friends who really understand me: the way I think, the way I talk to myself, and the kinds of things I like to think and talk about. They help me to be myself. So closing the book seems like ending the friendship. Or ending the exploration of my true self.

    On the other hand, opening the book to finish is a little like picking up the phone to have a deep, meaningful conversation with that friend. I know it’s going to be good, but I don’t always feel I have the energy to go there after a long day.

    This clashes with my experience, that the deep and meaningful relationships are the ones that revive and inspire me.

    I’m currently on pause between books 4 and 5 of Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed the middle so much, I’m struggling between a doubt that the ending will be as good, and a guilt that to move on is a something of a betrayal. Together these are enough to keep me empty-handed.

  18. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    I did laugh out loud at the cord cutting like a minor celebrity at the opening of a new human.

    So many books, so little time.

  19. Leighton

    Yes, Sam. You are a coward. You need to learn how to end books. Trust me, once you do, you’ll lose all semblance of sanity for a blessed 2 hours following the end. Once you finish a great book, it’s hard to identify what’s real and what isn’t for a while. Which is why I read.

  20. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Thanks, everyone, for piping up. I appreciate all your comments. Except for Ron Block.

    Chris Local- Yes. But, confession: I finished TDT a couple of days after I wrote this.

    Becca Wonderduck- Are you saying I’m fat?

    Jay- I love that. “I couldn’t read it slow enough.” Perfect.

    Melissa O’Muigooness- What a “drag.” <---compliment. I really feel that way about some series I have read. To know there are more Patrick O’Brian books, more Wodehouse and Lewis, more Berry, is a real pleasure. I love what you said about them still being alive, with something fresh to say to you, as long as there’s something untouched. Wonderful. Hannah Coulter- I am serious that it’s only a few pages left in Hannah. I’ve read Jayber Crow several times, and am actually doing it again right now. I agree! I love them. James "Vato" Witmer- I can really relate to that. We don’t only read books. It really is an experience. And a shared one. And I almost always finish a book right away. Only sometimes I don’t. Chris Whitler- It’s powerful to finish something like LoTR, for sure. I’m there, every time. I almost feel so loyal to those characters that it fuels a powerful misgiving about the films. Perhaps unfairly. KJ- Your quirk is a quirk? I thought everyone did that. 🙂 Jess- I haven’t ever put one off like Hannah Coulter, and I did finish The Dragon’s Tooth pretty quick. But it sometimes happens. 🙂 The One True and Only True Stickman -I do that with “those” kind of books, but Hannah Coulter isn’t a “race to the end” kind of thing. It’s like leaving a friend’s porch, not finding out what happens in a mystery, or a quest. Per ASP’s books: I have to do that with some books, too. And that’s kind of what I’m talking about. Hannah Coulter was a very slow read for me, in a sense. I did the same thing. I took it in chunks. Because it was so emotionally powerful/overwhelming. Laura “Coolness” Peterson- My experience is usually like that s well. That seems most healthy. I love everything you said, but that quote is especially interesting. That is just so very true. I haven’t seen the play, but that’s wonderful. Thanks for sharing it. Amy @ My Friend Amy @ My Friend Amy My Friend- It’s tough. I hate/love finishing a series on TV the same way. I just know they are going to ruin it (like Lost) and I’m afraid. I always want to be comforted that they have an ending planned. The show that worries me (in a manner of speaking, I’m not actually worried) is Downton Abbey. Please, have an ending planned! Eowynning- Not an intentional reference to PGW. But it’s possibly subconscious? Pip pip, tally ho, what what? Carl- Ditto. I did the exact same thing with the Potter series (including the exact timing). I enjoyed the “glorious whirlwind” as well. RonH- NDW is nails. I know the feeling. Have you read any Patrick O’Brian? If not, you might want to start and not finish those too. Zack the Eggo Maniac- Good. I’m not a weirdo, a singer-songwriter in a folk-cello band does this too. Wait.... I love the phone analogy. It’s apt. You must go on, of course, into Mordor and the end of everything. Ron "Friend Request" Blocked- I didn’t finish reading your comment. Leighton- Okey dokey, artichokie. I will bend all my will toward learning to master this incredible ability.

  21. Eowyn

    Well, you are related after all. 😀 Guess it sort of seeped into the old lemon, what? Wodehouse is one author you don’t have to worry about running out of – how many were there – seventy some? I read somewhere he was still writing when he died – at 92.

    Toodle pip, old chap.

  22. Caleb Morris

    Sam –

    What a cool post. It just so happens that I’m reading Dragon’s Tooth right now, only about ten minutes at a pop because I really don’t want it to end. I find that happening with all Wilson’s books though. He’s surely one of the finest fiction writers of our time (non-fiction too, Tilt-A-Whirl being great stuff).

    I get pretty goofy with stories and tend to get attached to characters. Antigone was my favorite in Dragon’s Tooth from pretty much the get-go.

    And yes, do finish Hannah Coulter. I did that one on audiobook after (Pete, I think) posted a link to a free download here last year. I took tons of quotes down. I won’t get into it here, but one of the concepts I learned from that book has turned out to be one of the most important concepts I’ve ever come across in life.

    Amen to what Ron said: So many books, so little time.

    -Caleb

  23. anna

    i think i just choked at “friend request”…

    i’m one of Those People who *love* spoilers (i have been known to google before i read a book, just to make sure i’m not inesting valuable emotional energy in a character who dies, not that i’m speaking from experience, tomorrowwhenthewarbegan…). i do read fast, but there are some books that i slow down my reading to enjoy the words, rather than to savour the plot (that’s a significant distinction in my head). although sometimes, if the book is really tense, i’ll read it fast so i can reread it slowly. i reread books. sometimes frequently. i’m probably close to having read the narnia series a hundred times. seriously.

  24. Donna S

    I wish I could think of a witty post for this thread just so I could get a wittier response from Sam.

  25. Jon Slone

    I don’t get to read that much because I’m always writing. I’m 3 and a half years (419 pages) into my first novel….so much fun!

    Now, S.D., I will do this,…I’m in a section of the story that I’m so excited about because its the first time where good meets evil….the scene is going to be epic and I’m so excited about that that I’m hesitating and doing everything but writing it.

    I also stretch out my broccoli Casserole as long as I can, eating the peas and the turkey first……thats gotta be related.

    I think you’re cool for this bit of weird that you just shared with us.

  26. Jen

    I can think of a few books I’ve done this with. I read the whole last third of Fiddler’s Green in one sitting (something I don’t do often) but then delayed the last few pages because I didn’t want it to end. And I was legit sad to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because it felt like leaving friends behind. Right now, though it’s not a story, I’m stretching Pilgrim at Tinker Creek just because so much of it is too meaningful to rush through.

    Procrastinating the end to shorten the in-between wait makes perfect sense. When said Harry Potter book came out, I spent much of the year re-reading the whole series just so I wouldn’t have a gap. 🙂

    “grand opening of a new human”… haha!

  27. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Eowynning- I think there are nearly 100 novels. A wondrous thought, what!

    Caleb Philip Morris- Smoking! I agree, Antigone was a good character. I also have the audiobook for Hannah Coulter, a pretty good performance of a great book. It’s cool to hear you speak of its impact. Funny how a man in Kentucky can write such a book and it can do such a thing with its own life. Amazing.

    Anna-na-na-na-na-na-na Livefortoday- 100! You have me beat. But I’m gaining on you. I can’t believe you actually performed the role of spoiler for me in a post where I said I hate spoilers and in a comment where you say you like spoilers. This means war.

    Donna S Kwestions- The amount of pressure you have placed on me is like that of a thing, previously not under pressure, which is now under a lot of pressure. Sorry to speak in such heavy metaphors. I’m kind of a deep intellekchooull.

    Jon Slone Dept How Can I Direct Your Cash, I Mean Call?- OK, these name things are getting out of hand.

    Peas in broccoli casserole? Turkey! I’m outraged. But I like the comparison. Savoring. But Jon, how can you write very much without reading very much? That is like marathoning without eating, yes? No? But, good luck with the novel. What a job that is!

    Jen Early, CSA- One sitting! That is incredible. You must read like the veritable wind (which is not illiterate). I read the HP books faster than about anything I’ve ever read. Was sad for the end as well! I didn’t know what to read after that. I think I read a historical biography, because everything in the YA/fantasy section looked boring and I knew it wasn’t fair to compare. Cornfeshunn: I am trying to read “Pilgrim…” for about the tenth time. It just never feels right. I think I’m too rushed in life right now. Too much to do. I need it on audiobook for my car! That’s where I do a lot of reading/listening.

  28. Jon Slone

    S.D.

    Can’t say I get the, ‘How Can I Direct Your Cash’ line.

    And unless you’re just messing with me, the peas and turkey aren’t in the B. Casserole…..they’re NEXT to it on the plate, Goobergrits!

    And yes, I am weird because I don’t read much but I write all the time. Though, I did pick up the 1200 page Count of Monte Cristo and read 400 pages in one sitting and was so inspired to write, I think I added 30 new pages to my novel and a ‘dope’ preface!

    I, like you, am holding off on the ending….though in my case, I think thats roughly 800 pages.

  29. Jon Slone

    One more thought for S.D.

    I have never written anything harder than this novel. I broke my main character’s arm in the opening chapter and it was miraculously healed by the 3rd chapter. I’m constantly forgeting what’s in his pockets and what color his shirt is or did he have jeans on or sweats. Keeping up with everything 100 chapters in and right at 100,000 words……its crazy fun beyond discription and yet the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m sure many Rabbit Roomers can understand where I’m coming from.

    Any similar snags on your end?

  30. Jen

    Thanks Sam… I wish I was that incredible. I have to be up early, alone, and completely engrossed in the book to read like that. (and those “morning people” poems you read at Hutchmoot? That’s me.) But when the right book comes along and I can find that time, I love it!

    Pilgrim is hard. There’s just too much to take in, and it’s hard to make the proper time to devote to it. But I vowed at the beginning of the year to try to stay on one book at a time, and by golly, I’m going to finish it!
    Really. Eventually.

    I really need to give audio books a try. I drive a lot.

  31. anna

    sorry! however, i will rest easy knowing that the tomorrow when the war began series is (as far as i know) not terribly well-known outside of australia, and therefore the likelihood that you’ll read it is low. besides, there’s a war. so, you know, getting through a war with no one dying would be amazing. (i almost said a complete work of fiction, and caught myself and went why, yes. yes it is… obviously i’m another one who enters fully into the world of the written word…)

    on the other hand – the semi-spoilers here for hannah coulter have not prevented me from wanting to find it at the library… (can’t quite commit to buying it if she – oh, wait… never mind… 😉 )

  32. Heather R

    I get this. I usually pace myself through a great book by reading just a chapter (unless it’s written by Tolkien, then maybe less than a chapter), closing the book with a sigh, and living with that part of the story for a little while before moving on to find out what happens next. And there is definitely a lonely feeling when it is over.

  33. Michelle S

    I just happen to be reading Hannah Coulter right now. A friend let me borrow it because I hadn’t yet read anything by Wendell Berry. It has been absolutely wonderful and I look forward to reading more from Wendell. It has not even been 1 week and I am only 20 pages from the end.

    And that is my problem with good books. I am drawn so deep into them that I read them too, too quickly. And faster than I can realize how much of a treasure I have in my hands, the story is coming to a close. But at the same time, I’ve become so attached to the characters that it is hard to let them go. They become so real to me…maybe even a part of me. I am grateful that at the very least I can revisit the story again someday and hopefully reap new rewards from the journey.

  34. SarahN

    I am very similar. I make books last. But when I read the final paragraphs, I read them in a rush, all at once, like tearing off a Band-Aid. Then I’m sad, just for a moment, like I wasted it. But without fail, in the next instant I’m re-reading it–the last bit–again and again, usually at least three or four times before I at last close the book. If it’s a really great ending, I read it out loud the last time.

  35. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Jon Slone- “John’s Loan.” I can sympathize, sir. I can’t remember what’s in my own pocketses, let alone my characters. I get about it being hard. Writing is one of the hardest wonderful things I’ve ever done. P. Yancey talks about that here: http://www.sdsmith.net/2009/07/23/self-expression-vs-connection/

    Jen- There’s a reason I could write those “morning” poems, because I am so with you. (Funny thing is, I wrote those early on the morning of that talk. Ironic!) I will keep after Pilgrim, if for nothing else, to honor John Wayne. Audiobooks are/can be wonderful things. There’s nothing like being read to by a phenomenal reader. I love it.

    Anna- I see what you mean! Actually, I was thinking you were referring to a different series. End of hostilities! Peace in our time. 🙂

    Heather R- That sounds great. I love to do that if I can. Do you have kids!?!?

    Michelle S- Well said. I am with you. It’s amazing how powerful a story can be in us. Hannah Coulter. Maybe when I get done with anther reread of J.Crow, I’ll come back to her again. What a wonder.

    SarahN- That is seriously savoring it. I read about a guy (a pastor, I think) who, after finishing each Harry Potter book, read them backwards from end to beginning, just to savor them that way. Then back forwards again. Kind of crazy, but he literally knows them back to front and front to back. I like your idea about reading it out loud. That’s something I never did, but with kids, I’m starting to see how special that can be.

  36. Jon Slone

    S.D.

    I watched that vid that you posted for me.

    Mr. P. Yancey said, ‘Outlining a story equals writer’s avoidance. That we spend so much time preparing to write, researching to write…..doing everything BUT writing.’ Man, safe to say, I’ve been guilty of W.A. a few times.

    Come on S.D., admit it, you’re about to rename your hut: Writer’s Avoidance.

  37. Bethany

    I have as yet not finished reading the Lord of the Rings. I stopped at the scouring of the shire because I had already seen the movie and I couldn’t bear to see Frodo and everyone leave again. This way they never have. I totally identify with this!

  38. Molly

    Oh-I read and re-read. And re-read. I, like many of the others, race to the end. These are my friends, my constant companions. My favorites I have read upwards of twenty times. – BTW Hannah-Rilla is on that list. As an Army wife and one who has lost a dear friend in the conflict, it is a great comfort to know that we are just the end of a long line of families who have grieved in war. It is a wonderful book. And I cry every time.

    Also Leighton …. “Once you finish a great book, it’s hard to identify what’s real and what isn’t for a while. Which is why I read.” You said it much better than me …

    Thanks for the confession S.D.

  39. Ashley Elizabeth

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. A newly graduated AE terrified to jump into the real world. And scene.

    I was terrified that Rowling was going to kill Dumbledore. He was my favorite and I just knew he’d provide some guidance for what I should do now that college was out of the way. I read to the almost end and looked up at my mother in tears. I remember telling her I didn’t want to live in a world where Dumbledore didn’t exist.

    I’m still convinced had I simply not read that chapter, he wouldn’t have died.

  40. Chinwe

    Gilead. Oh how I wanted to keep hearing Reverend Ames’ voice. Every single time I closed that book, it felt like I was waking up from a sweet dream and I didn’t want it to end. What a sweet ending it was though!

  41. Loren Warnemuende

    I loved the topic of this post so much that it’s taken me a day to find the time to sit down and really savor it 🙂 . It’s nice to know there are so many out there who have the kind of relationship with books that I do.

    I finish most books, but there are definitely times I regret the loss, and other times I’ve been so hit by a book I’ve reread it immediately. And other ones I’ve read and come back to over and over in different seasons of life–it’s like catching up with an old friend and discovering all kinds of new things. Just did that with LOtR, which is forgiven for the tears it causes by ending because it has so many lovely appendices that bring the characters to life all over again. Appendices and epilogues are my dearest friends. I want to know everything that happened to my friends after their story “ended.” I (sort of) forgave The Dragon’s Tooth for whizzing by so quickly because it had an epilogue.

    And confession, because I’m in such good company…. I haven’t finished Hannah Coulter. I started well, but somehow I dribbled off. Someday….

  42. Loren Warnemuende

    LOL, Becca!

    So will we finish all those books and essays when we get to Heaven?

  43. Loren Warnemuende

    Laura P, thanks for posting that article. I love the author’s concept there. It reminds me, though, there is one Story which has an ending to satisfy all endings and I can’t wait to experience that. Of course, though, come to think of it. That ending will really only be the beginning!

  44. RonH

    S.D.: My father has been trying to get me started on Patrick O’Brian’s work for years, but the space it takes up on his shelf is so intimidating… I have three little boys. Who has that kind of time??

    It’s a good thing I don’t have to worry about not finishing the Wingfeather Saga…

  45. Zack

    SD: Your one-line description of the ending gives me the chills and a sense of commission. I’ll have to start again. Tomorrow.

  46. Peter B

    Sam, you’re a hoot. I can’t wait to meet you in person (hoot at ‘moot).

    But yes, like everyone else, this latecomer feels the same loss at the end. I usually can’t hold off though, so I’m stuck looking for the next one.

    Eagerly awaiting my own serving of fricasseed moniker du jour…

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