The Dog Ear: Reading can be emotional
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 00:09
While I was aimlessly looking at various social media websites one day, an image caught my attention. It was a simple black background containing the sentence, “That moment you finish a book, look around, and realize that everyone else is carrying on with their lives as though you didn’t just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback.” Given the amount of books I have read and my tendency to read semi-depressing novels, I liked that sentence a lot and could relate to it. It made me think about how everyone reacts after they finish reading a book, depending on the emotions the book evokes in the reader.
What especially struck me in that quote were the words “emotional trauma.” I like books that make me feel something. The more a book can make me cry, chances are, I’ll love it more just for that (ahem, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green). I tend to really delve into a novel, temporarily adopting the emotions of the characters as my own feelings, so timing is everything when it comes to finishing a book. If I know a book is going to lead me down a river of tears, I’ll finish it at night before I go to bed. While it sounds depressing (and yes, it can be), the night is an ideal time to allow yourself to hop on an emotional roller coaster. The paperback can tear at your heart, and no one will be around to watch you. That’s when the real feelings come alive, if you let them.
Location can greatly affect how you experience a book. If you’re surrounded by people, you may guard your emotions and not allow yourself to truly empathize with the characters. Not everyone is a fellow book lover that will believe your drastic change in behavior is caused by the novel you just finished. They might just think you’re crazy. Sadness isn’t the only side effect of reading either. Author killed off your favorite character? Bam. Anger and resentment with a side of loss. The book makes you relate to a past relationship? Cue the tears and the urge to punch something. Is the book really funny? Laughing in public to yourself might draw some attention. If you are traveling somewhere and you finish the book while in transit, how the book made you feel can carry on throughout the day and subsequently ruin it. At night, you can reflect on the pages you just turned and then pass out, ready to face the morning in a better mood.
The type of book also affects what you do post-read. If you finish an exhilarating mystery novel, you don’t want to simply go to class afterwards. You want to contemplate the book, and think about what you saw coming and what you didn’t. Maybe you pieced the mystery together yourself and want to relish in that satisfaction for a little while. If a book makes you think, ruminate on those thoughts and let them sink in. After all, authors write not just for themselves but for their readers. Their job is complete when the reader takes the time to enjoy what they crafted and care enough to appreciate their words.