Currently Reading: Nothing. Really. (But not for long. Give me about one hour... I have two waiting on my desk.) :)
It is true. I am currently not reading anything, unless you count my Mary Jane's Farm magazine, which has already gotten me excited about growing some vegetables on the balcony this spring.. even though it is only the beginning of January and I have some waiting to do. Sigh.
There are several reasons why I have not started a new book lately: someone checked out the book at the library I wanted, I had to wait for a book I ordered through Inter-Library Loan, but most of all: I am homesick.
Homesick for David Copperfield. I finished it about three days ago and although I loved it (or perhaps because I loved it so), it lingers with me still. At work on Thursday, while shelving books, I thought about a certain scene in the novel and smiled, thinking of going home to read more. That's when it hit me: I finished it. It was over. There was nothing more of it. I literally almost cried while shelving orange dots in the Children's Spanish section on a Thursday afternoon because of the stark realization that 741 pages had not been enough and I wanted more.
Several weeks ago, during an impromptu little meeting with some other literary-minded individuals, someone stated the mark of a good book is that "when it is over, you are left with a sense of emptiness." I was struck by this comment, because through all of my literary wanderings, I have always found this to be true. The best books- the ones I reread and cherish the most- are the ones that have left me with the dull ache of leaving home and missing the ones I love when I have finished them.
I have experienced this before- I'm sure you all have. There is a certain book that, as you read it, becomes different from others you have read. You get so wrapped up into the plot, the characters, the scenery, that you start to feel as though it is real and you are a part of it. You stop merely reading- you start living within the page. You ignore everything else around you while you are reading, while your thoughts remain on nothing else when you are not. This heightened form of reading is beautiful and unique; it is the reason why I read. Yet it always ends with a feeling of emptiness, a sense of letdown as you close the book and return it to the shelf, for your journey is over and you must say farewell to the characters you have observed and spoken with.
Thus am I left with a feeling of homesickness for Yarmouth, Mr. Peggotty's boat, Mr. Wickfield's house, and all of the fascinating characters I have had the privilege of knowing this past month. It is with a heavy sigh I return the book to the library, although I have no doubt I will visit it occasionally as I walk through the stacks. Nor am I the only one who sets David Copperfield aside with a heavy heart. In the preface to David Copperfield, Mr. Dickens wrote "It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years' imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever." Don't you love that sentence? In these words, one feels his own triumph mingling with reluctance and regret. How much harder it must be for the writer than the reader to let go of a book; I do not envy him that feeling. (How I wish there was a recording of his voice- I imagine it deep, melodic, and exquisitely rapturous. A man who writes like that could have no other voice, in my opinion.)
Yet unlike real trips or meetings and partings, those in the book world are always able to be relived. I can return to a myriad of places and revisit literary friends throughout my entire life. No doubt I will cross the threshold into David Copperfield again. And I have many other social calls to make in the literary world, with new introductions as well as joyful reunions. While the homesickness does leave eventually, the impact of a good book never does. For that, I am forever grateful.