There's nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes with finishing a book that you've been reading for a very long time. It's like a weight off your shoulders. You can feel good at having accomplished something, that it's a job well done. Sure, maybe you didn't understand it but you can now say "Oh yeah, I read that."
Such was my feeling this afternoon. In 2012, my brother gave me the only thing I asked for for my birthday: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. It was big and beautiful with its bright red and yellow cover. It had a premise that sounded genuinely interesting to me, and the fact that it was written by the woman whose works profoundly shaped my childhood was just like a bonus.
So I started to read. And then after about 150 pages, I stopped. I got distracted by newer books. I had school and work and there the book sat on my shelf. There were just so many characters and the plot felt so slow and I was having trouble keeping track of things. Then I started to feel embarrassed. Had YA rotted my brain somehow? Was I no longer capable of reading 'adult books' like the ones I so passionately studied as an undergraduate.
No. I refused to let that be true. A few weeks ago, I gave myself a clean slate and started over from the beginning and finally, today, I finished it. All in all, it was a heavy book in the metaphorical sense. I liked how there was no hero, how everyone was broken in their own way, how reading about this town Rowling thought up was kind of like having a bruise and poking it even though you know it will hurt, but you still want to see if maybe this time it won't. I won't say I loved it - I thought it was an okay story, not my usual taste but well written - but I loved seeing a writer I like do something so different. It does make me even more interested in her second life now as Robert Galbraith, but rather than buy that book and have it potentially sit on my shelf unread for another year, I think I'll just wait and get it from the library someday when I'm ready.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
*EDIT - JK Rowling just gave a fantastic answer to a great question regarding this book on Goodreads about writing gritty characters/situaitons which I can really appreciate now that I finished the novel. Check it out here!*