It occurred to me, last night, as I began reading a new book sometime after midnight, that each book I devour is like a new lover. I opened the front cover of The Breakers by Mary Ann Taylor-Hall with my mind still back in the volume I had just finished, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I found myself reluctant to delve into this new story, as though I could somehow betray the previous story. I read only a few pages before watching TV instead. Later in the evening, I finished the first chapter. By the morning, I felt pretty interested in starting Chapter Two.
I did the same thing when I started Uglies, and the book before that, and the book before that. Each first page is like an introduction to a stranger. Will I like them? Are they what I am looking for right now? Nervousness gives way to interest and curiosity, in the same way you go from shaking hands and saying hello to flirting and handing out your number. The further into the book you delve, assuming it is a book that you liked enough to keep reading, the more involved you become. The story is like another world that you are living in.
Then, there are suddenly more pages on the left-hand side than there are on the right. You are nearing the end. You can't just stop reading (unless it is a notorious freezer book). You have to know what happens. But, the more you read. the closer you are to saying goodbye.
Maybe this is why series books do so well. They are the long-term relationships of bibliophiles. I usually only read one novel at a time (though I may have multiple nonfiction books open). In that way, I am a serial monogamist. I am not sure what that says about the times in life that I have read two or three novels at once, or people who are always reading two or three novels at once. I'll let you decide how far this metaphor can go. I will tell you that, pre-marriage, I dated the same way I read. Books and boys, one right after the other. Never two at a time. Though some men wanted to read my novel at the same time as someone else's. It is a good thing books don't have feelings.