New Book Anxiety, The sheer irrational behaviour of my brain.

A Book hangover: When you finish a book so devastatingly powerful, or so perfectly wonderful that you’re left with the story echoing in your head for days. Many a book reader is familiar with this, & we get so invested in these fictional worlds that authors craft that we’re left with a physical ache when that beautiful universe is taken away from us. I can’t count the number of books I’ve reached the final chapter of & urged in my head to just keep going, so invested I am in its characters & setting… I never want to leave them. However, the reason I get this way has often bugged me. It’s not just the inevitable sense of loss I get when a story is ripped away from me (okay, that sounds a bit dramatic, but sometimes it feels that way), it’s something slightly more frustrating than that, something which I’ve started to call New Book Anxiety.

I’m an anxious person by nature. I feel anxious meeting new people, I feel anxious around customers. I even feel anxious around people I already know quite often, which leads to inane babbling & bad jokes. It seems though; I even suffer from anxiety when I’m faced with the prospect of meeting new FICTIONAL people. Is that crazy? I thought so, but it seems some of my Twitter friends support this hypothesis, & they encouraged me to write a little blog post about it. Recently, I started Filth by Irvine Welsh, which is the first non-children’s fiction I’ve read in years (I read a lot of Popular Science, but that doesn’t count)… It took me about a full week of carrying it in my bag before I plucked up the courage to actually start reading. Of course, I’m now well stuck in & fully enjoying it, but there’s something that made me hesitant for days before I finally opened it & let myself get absorbed. Having spent some time thinking, I’ve decided it boils down to the fact that I’m not a fast reader. It seems like a shocking thing for a Bookseller to say, but I can’t help it – I just don’t read dozens of books a month, & I never have, & I think that’s what makes me get so nervous about the idea of starting a new novel. I know I’ll be investing some serious time into it, & what if I just don’t like it? It’s happened before, & I know I’m loathed to give up halfway through a book (because then this stupid bad story has beaten me), but why spend a fortnight reading something that I’m not enjoying? I do my best to pick books that I’ve got a fairly good feeling about, & that my gut instincts tell me I’ll enjoy, because I know I’ll be putting so much of my time, & inevitably my heart into these characters & their lives. It’s emotionally & mentally exhausting to become as deeply entrenched in these worlds & adventures as many of us do, & I think that leads me to the trepidation I always get when faced with a new novel. I feel it physically, as genuine hesitation in my stomach, & for the first few days of reading it, I often struggle to connect to the characters immediately, & only once a few chapters have passed & the story has really started to gain momentum do I start to feel an attachment with them. Mind you, once I do, I often become hopelessly invested in their lives, so I suppose I make up for my nervousness with the depth of my connections later in the story.

I’m not overly convinced much f this post made any sense, or that I’m not just a little bit unhinged in thinking like this… But I had to get it out of me. Well, I didn’t have to, I suppose. I thought people might agree with me, or find it interesting or something. I’m probably wrong!

Thanks for reading.

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2 responses to “New Book Anxiety, The sheer irrational behaviour of my brain.

  1. I think I should be endlessly grateful that I am a fast reader (and, I guess, that I love meeting new people, books, whatever). But then I am often left feeling that I don’t have much of an emotional connection to much of the stuff that I read. I may be very widely read but I do fail on the ‘deeply read’ part.
    A colleague reminded me the other day that there are two types of readers – those who read for the plot (me) and those who need to read for the language. I’m plot all the way and can end up feeling a bit shallow….

    • I adore a good plot, but because I hate abandoning a book, a bad plot is the stuff of nightmares. Even mediocre! The problem is though, I constantly feel behind other booksellers with my reading… And I’ve read a book, loved it, & suddenly there are 7 out!!

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