We’ve all been there. You’ve just turned the last page on a 1,200-page novel you’ve spent an emotional eternity reading, and you feel both relieved and like you’ll never be able to read again. Whether you liked the book or not, it’s never easy moving on. You’ve come to count on this tome and these characters. Your neural pathways think in the syntax of the writer. When you think back on these days, all you’ll remember is that during your lunchbreak and on the subway in the morning and as you were falling asleep at night, you were reading that book. Idioms and phrases repeated throughout the novel seem like your whole life. If you asked someone what he was doing back in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment or told your kid someday he’d sit the Iron Throne or asked a coworker, “Who is John Galt?”–all these questions and comments would be salient and apropos, because everyone in the world knows what a terrible surprise the scouring of the Shire is.
But no. Life goes on. Moby-Dick is not the only book about fish in the sea.
Remember that it’s okay to read different books. Perhaps the best thing to do is to have a quick fling with a short story or two, just to prove to yourself that there are other characters out there. Find a used copy of The Old Man in the Sea, rent a hotel room, and spend an hour reminding yourself what it was like to be an irresponsible teenager with a book report due in the morning.
Talk to others. Go to your book club meeting. The people there can help you learn from what you’ve read and understand how it all came about, pointing out the signs from the beginning of the book which foreshadowed events in the end. By analyzing the things you might have missed, you will become a better reader for that next novel.
Equally important, however: don’t obsess over it. Don’t go online and read every single post anyone’s ever made about the book. Don’t fight with people on the Internet who don’t “get” the book like you do. If you loved the book, you’ll hate to see it being torn apart by the likes of these idiots, and if you hated it you’ll hate to see it being praised when it’s a lowlife, bottom-feeding, piece of shit. But even so, you have to let it go. You have to move on.
Whether you go and mingle with new releases at a brick-and-mortar store or browse through descriptions on an online site, just get out there. Find something new to read. There are a lot of words out there. They’re waiting.
“The End” is not the end.