A Reader’s Lament

What do we call that feeling we get when we finish a really great book?

I’m talking about the sort of book that completely takes you away from wherever you are. The sort of book that makes your existence in the world disappear. The sort of book that makes you pissed off that you ever started reading it in the first place because now that you’re done with it you’ve got a hollow feeling deep inside you. I’m talking about the kind of book that leaves you with the same feeling that sinks into all us after attending either a christening or a funeral.

What do we call that feeling?

It’s not sadness. It’s not joy.

What is it?

I think perhaps it’s reluctance.

Reluctance to make ourselves reenter the real world. Reluctance to accept that our journey taken through someone else’s eyes has come to an end. Reluctance to move on.

That’s what that feeling is. And it’s a good feeling to have.

Books can take you anywhere. And by books, I’m including Hustler Magazine.

Last night I finished reading the fifth book in the Harry Potter series. I had just started reading the whole series about two-and-a-half weeks ago. I’ve seen all three of the movies thus far and was quite impressed with them, being immediately taken with the idea of this fantastic wizarding world existing right under the noses of those of us who aren’t witches or wizards.

But I’ll admit that I wasn’t ready to be as taken with the books as I was. I mean they’re supposed to be children’s books, if I’m not mistaken. I know that people of all ages have read them, which is good, but I half expected them to be much more juvinile. Sort of dumbed-down, if you will. They’re not.

J.K. Rowling has blown my mind. I’ve raced through these books faster than I did that copy of Hustler that my old pal Raymond Tan gave me in seventh grade. Albeit the end result was slightly different, but the content of both have left me feeling light headed.

I found that as I’d been reading the books, I had to keep going back to reread certain paragraphs. This has happened to me before, of course, when reading political science text books, or existential essays while in college, but that was because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was reading. In this case, I find that I’m so excited to find out what’s going to happen next, that I actually end up skipping large chunks of sentences and paragraphs so I can get to the next sentence and paragraph. I have to take a deep breath to calm myself and go back.

I don’t even want to think about what sort of geek this makes me, but to be honest, I don’t really care. But what I do realize now is why everyone was in such an uproar over these books. I now understand why people were waiting in line at midnight to buy the sixth book which came out not long ago.

I’ll be starting book six later this evening, which means I should be done with it by the weekend. Then I’ll find myself in an intolerable situation. It’ll be at least a year, if not two, before the seventh book comes out. At least if I wanted a new Hustler, I could find one of those every month, but two years? You’re killin’ me Rowling! Killin’ me.

So, there it is. I’ve said it. I’m officially addicted to Potter. I’m a Potterhead. I’m aching to get home so can get my hands on some more Potter. I think there will only be seven Potter books all together. But I can’t really express how badly I want to score an eighth of Potter.

The characters in these books are remarkable. You actually see them grow up and mature. Even the adults. Not only do they tell incredible stories, but they teach so much about human nature. There are few books out there that manage to stir the emotions in me that these books do. There were points where I wanted to cheer out loud and others where I had stop and laugh at myself cause my eyes were getting a little moist. (If you tell my friends I said that, though, I’ll kill you.) But the characters are continually evolving into these unbelievably complex people. It’s great for kids to read because it teaches them to recognize what might make certain people tick. There are undoubtedly factors in each and every one of our pasts that have had an indelible effect on who we are today, but how many of us take that into account when dealing with others? Few, I would say.

Anyway, not to ramble about these books, but if you haven’t read them, do it. I promise that you won’t be sorry. I was skeptical, but clearly I was wrong to be.

The appendix: A worthless part of a book as well as the human body.

A friend of mine just went to the hospital with stomach pains and what could turn out to be appendicitis. He’s not sure yet, they’re doing checks and such. There’s no mortal danger or anything, but it did get me thinking about this part of the human body. I mean it’s basically useless, right? Serves no purpose.

According to wikipedia.com, “hypothesized functions for the appendix include lymphatic, exocrine, endocrine, and neuromuscular. However, most physicians and scientists believe the appendix lacks significant function, and that it exists primarily as a vestigial remnant of the larger cellulose-digesting cecum found in our herbivorous ancestors.”

(See innards diagram here.)

So basically, we don’t need it, which is why so many people end up getting it removed without incident if problems occur. It’s funny, cause I’ve never really known what the appendix looks like. I sort of thought it might be like a liver or a kidney. Something big and meaty. Turns out it’s just a little tube about 10 centimeters long. But yet when that thing bursts, look out.

So I find it funny that the section of books containing additional information is also called an appendix. Is this because it shares the burden of uselessness with its brother, the anatomical appendix? I suppose if it were important it’d be called a kidney, or an anus, or something that serves an actual purpose. Like a liver. But I suppose that with the amount of alcoholics there are in literature, calling it a liver would ultimately cause more work than it’d be worth, what with all the transplants they’d have to do. Reprinting costs would be astronomical.

Alright, so I don’t really feel that a given book’s appendix is useless. I’ve read through an appendix here or there. And I also realize that appendix literally means an appendage. So the appendix of a book is something that is an extention of that book. Just like the anatomical appendix is an extension of the cecum which is part of the large intestine. Hence, appendix is a suitable name for both entities.

The real question now is this, would appendix make a good name for a child?

“Hey, there! These are my kids. Appendix Joseph, Colon Marie, and Anterior Superior Iliac Spine. Say hi, kids!”

Sounds good to me.