Me: Wowzers. Finished! May read that last chapter again …
Rom-Com Friend: Yeah I did. Quite the book though, eh?
Me: Yeah! Wow. I’m just … you know … book aftermath.
RCF: Yup. I know. It took me a while to process the last bit. I thought about it a lot.
This is the conversation that took place seconds after I read the last page of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. My rom-com friend was the one who lent me the book after she finished it and, as a result, was there to help me process all the feels that came as a result of that beautiful story.
And then she was there for me as I entered that dreary time after you read the last page.
For the past several hours your head, heart and soul have been wrapped up in the words on those mass market pages, and when it’s complete you feel as though you’ve forgotten how to form coherent thoughts. You try to explain yourself or engage in discussion, and it just tumbles out in gibberish.
There’s an immense sadness that washes over you as you realize you’ll no longer be spending time with those characters, so you try to get back the feeling by skipping to the good bits from cover to cover. You skim through, stopping at those moments that made your heart leap, flying past the moments that made your heart sink. And then you reach the end again. But it can’t be the end. Not yet. So you read the last chapter again. Then you go back to the beginning because you’re now in that powerful position of knowing more than the characters. And you hold the book to your chest and let out a big sigh because it offered you the chance to be part of something. And now that something is over. And you feel spent. And a little empty. And the only thing you can do is to lay your head down and try to hold onto the fictional world you lost yourself in.
It’s a bittersweet time, the book hangover. On the one hand, you’re thankful to be at the other end of the drama, the pain and the roller coaster of feels. You remember when you were in the midst of those scenes that held your breath captive and all you could think was, Never again!
But on the other hand, you miss it.
You start thinking that maybe it wasn’t as heart-wrenching as you thought.
Maybe you could do it again.
And you reach for the next book in the series.