Dearest Abandoned Books,
You sit there half-finished, perpetually split in half by old receipts or business cards stuck into your centers. God, I couldn’t even leave you with a proper bookmark. You sit there splayed out, your spines breaking with the passage of time. You sit there open and waiting for me to return to you.
I just left you there, and I’m sorry.
I know you might not believe me now, but many of you I opened with the best of intentions of finishing. For some of you, our relationship was purely obligatory. However, I must admit that for a good number of you, I turned to you just because I was bored and needed something new.
Whatever the reason for starting, I’m writing to you now to give you my reasons for stopping. Don’t worry, I know I don’t deserve your time anymore, but you need to understand. You need to understand why I left you, and then maybe we can all get some closure.
Years, maybe even just months, ago, I left you half finished. I left you voiceless and alone. I like to think of you all meeting up once a month for coffee, all of the books I’ve abandoned sitting around with styrofoam cups of Folgers and nibbling Lorna Dunes and discussing your inability to tell your story, your loss of me, and your loss of my attention.
Perhaps Lord of the Flies pipes up first to start the ramshackle support group. He introduces himself and begins to explain how he feels used, how his dog-eared pages don’t attract readers like they used to, and how he’s never been the same since I put him down. Then one of the memoirs will offer her story about how she feels I never really gave her a proper chance and how I couldn’t handle the truth she had to tell me.
Perhaps A Room of One’s Own will interrupt and say, “At least she doesn’t go around telling everyone that she finished you! We barely made it past page thirty and she tells everyone and their mom that we’ve gone all the way.” Pet Sematary and The Color Purple will nod their heads in commiseration.
Perhaps then, And the Mountains Echoed would offer his tale: “I think I was just too much for her. I said too much, too fast.” You, especially, I want you to know that it truly wasn’t you. Your truth, your characters simply hit me too deeply, too personally for me to continue on. There was that one night–you know the night–where you introduced that one character–you know who-that just was too much like me. I could have sworn he had my face, my gait, all my imperfections, and so you and I had to take a break. I meant to come back. I’m sure it is small comfort that you are always still at the top of my TBR list, but who wants to read about themselves? Who wants to become ripped open on the page like that when life already rips you open so much?
Then Jane Eyre will attempt to chime in about the multiple times I tried to pick her up, but ultimately just returned her to the library every time. However, that will be about the time of the meeting where everyone gets refills on coffee because no one cares what Jane Eyre has to say because she’s whiny and the worst.
To be fair, some of you were just not for me. No matter how many times I tried to fall for the bad boy, I’m never going to end up with you, On the Road. No matter how many people tell me you are one of their favorites, I just can’t see us getting along, Emma. Some of you were too young: Mortal Instruments, Matched, The Red Pyramid. Some of you were too old: Wuthering Heights, Henry III, Metamorphoses. Some of you were just simply, not my type: IQ84, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Death Comes to Pemberley. Some of you were just in the wrong pile at the wrong time.
Whatever the reason for us parting ways, I want you to know that it wasn’t you (except for you Jane Eyre, it was definitely you). I hope you aren’t insecure like so many are when they are discarded. Do not distress that you couldn’t be a Harry Potter; do not wonder that maybe if you just worked on your world building a bit more or added a little magic to some of your pages that I would come back to you. I hope you don’t look in the mirror and think that maybe, if you just had the money, someone could republish you with a new cover. Perhaps then I would be compelled to come back to you. Honestly, that’s never what I wanted for any of you.
So dearest abandoned books, I don’t want to end this letter with false hope. Don’t look to those success stories like The Hobbit and The Odyssey as a promise of reconciliation. Re-connection after departure is rare. I don’t want to make any more empty promises than I already have. I don’t want to tell you we will meet again or that one day I will hold you in my hands again. I don’t want to tell you that years down the road, we may finally click, and I will re-read and savor every last word of you from the beginning to the very end. I don’t want to lie to you.
However, I will end with the truth: someone, somewhere out there, loves you and deserves you far more than I ever will. The truth is that you have changed someone’s world with your words. The truth is that I am just a lowly reader with a short attention span. The truth is there are plenty of readers out there who will love you exactly how you currently are…word for word.
Lit & Love,
P.S. And the Mountains Echoed, what are you up to this summer? Call me.
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