Awhile back, I finished reading a book that left me wrecked for any book that might follow it. It doesn’t matter what the book was; I want to talk about this liminal moment. I have a term for it: book freefall — I’m out of the just-finished book’s universe, and I don’t know what to do with myself. I want more, I can’t have it, and I don’t know where to go next.
Often I’ll know, even before finishing it, that the current book will leave me bereft. I will do what I know many people do: slow down to delay that last page, to keep that pinch of final pages from thinning too quickly. And every so often, I’ll find myself in a book freefall so precipitous, so massive, that there seems to be absolutely no book that could possibly follow the one I just finished. In those cases, I know I can’t really do anything other than give myself over to a binge rewatch of some old favorite TV show; let a few days or weeks go by; allow the next book (or books) to quietly, slowly, choose me.
Now, this particular book freefall was unusual because of how utterly unexpected it was. Although I found the just-finished book extremely engaging, entertaining, and demanding, I did not at any point suspect it would leave me reeling as it did. I have no idea why. Its impact truly caught me by surprise.