Call me a pessimist, but ever since I wrote my piece “On Dating Books”, I knew this post would be inevitable. I just didn’t know that I would come to write it so soon. Then again, neither did I expect to have to let go of a series I’ve loved for so long. *shrug* Now, the way I see it, there are four types of bookish break-ups—all four of which happen after having read the book/books to completion and maybe even falling in love. (If you’re looking for break-ups that occur during the date i.e. as one is reading a book, you’d best check out Sharanya Sharma’s “On Breaking up With a Book”.)
First Type of Breakup: “Oh, Well …”
You needed something comfortable but still shiny and new, something you’d flirted with once before, so you grab something fun with a cover that doesn’t offend your sensibilities or, more truthfully, wouldn’t offend the eyes of your fellow book daters, and treat it to the day at the beach. Turns out, it was much more fun watching frat bros behave obnoxiously than read the book. After your eyes strayed from the book for the thirtieth time, you figure your date isn’t really trying either. Huh. It seemed fun the first time around.
Oh, well. You weren’t looking for anything serious anyway. Besides, this is one way to weed out your library, whether we’re talking your physical shelves, or your “faves” shelf on Goodreads.
Second Type of Breakup: “What. Is. Wrong. With. Me.”
This is the one where you and the book have been set-up by your friend. By all accounts, you should have loved this one. You and your friend are pretty much one soul in two different bodies, so why is this book so damned hard to contemplate?! You read it, you are bored or uncomfortable, you try to re-read the pages you’ve marked, and you’re bored or uncomfortable all over again. The words “WHY ARE YOU THE WAY YOU ARE” bubble up your throat, but you’re not sure if you are addressing the book or yourself.
Third Type of Breakup: “Um?”
Your first reading of the book was satisfactory—fun, even—but the re-read is not just boring, it is downright annoying. How could you have possibly been so forgiving of your date’s flaws?
Every word makes you want to disrespect the Goddess Saraswati and drop-kick the book out of your life. For me, this came in the form of a childhood favourite: Ruskin Bond’s A Season of Ghosts. I am haunted (ha-ha) by the disappointment I felt after re-reading this one. Breaking up with books that you feel a sense of nostalgia for is pretty confusing.
Fourth Type of Breakup: “It’s Not Me, It’s You!”
I feel like this scenario most often happens while reading a series. Series are hard to commit to, so it must follow that you’ve given this long-term relationship quite some thought. You’ve made pro/con lists and you’ve stayed up at night worrying about fictional people and also worrying that you worry too much about fictional people. After a while though, you realise that the things you hate about the series are casting a shadow on the things you adore about the series. You start to resent the newer stories for changing your views on the older ones and, ultimately, you realize that you no longer look forward to the next big adventure.
You keep the old books, the ones that loved and thrilled you, but it is time to drink something strong and move on.
This is pretty much what I feel about Harry Potter now. I will always love those seven books and what the fandom has done with them, but this is where Potter and I part ways. Which is fine, I mean, Rowling’s given me loads and she’s, well, loaded, so I guess we’ll both be just fine.
Are there any once loved books that you’ve had to dump?