On Monday afternoon, I told my mother that I should probably try to finish The Ghost Brigade up pronto because I had a vague recollection that I had pre-ordered the last Sookie Stackhouse book and it was due out imminently. I think my exact words were, “If I don’t finish this book before the new one arrives, all bets are off.” Well, I woke up on Tuesday morning with a sore throat and an email in my inbox telling me Dead Ever After had been delivered to my kindle. A sick day AND the final installment of a series I fell in love with last spring? Sorry, Scalzi – I’ll get back to you Monday.
There was no way I wasn’t going to shirk all other duties in order to read the whole thing. I have one load of damp laundry and another that’s wrinkled in the dryer, not to mention a terrifyingly filthy kitchen to prove it.
And, God, was it glorious.
I mean, legitimately, it is one of the best days I’ve had in a while, and that was with the sort of sickness Tylenol doesn’t make much of a dent on. I didn’t answer the phone when it rang. I didn’t have even the faintest desire to check email. I just dove into those sweet, long-awaited and pages and didn’t come up for air until I was done. And I know my followers are bookworms who understand this kind of desperate page turning. It’s not about the book being the best one ever written – it’s about the rabid desire to know the fate of a character who has become a friend over the previous twelve novels.
It’s an obsession that is painful to ignore. If I’d had to stop to cook or write or even put on real pants, I would have been unreasonable, and most likely, completely enraged. I’ve been there before. It’s not pretty. In fact, I’ve been there before with Harris’ books, although since many of my newer readers might not have gone into the archives, they may not have stumbled upon my passionate rantings a year ago. They might not know that I managed to read about eight of the Sookie Stackhouse books during a week-long visit with my parents, utilizing the kindle app on my phone to make it look like I was doing something that conceivably could have been important. My parents know me pretty darn well though, so I probably wasn’t fooling them one bit, but still. I’m not sure they realized quite how late I stayed up every night, or why their child, who usually takes less than ten minutes to shower and get dressed, was suddenly taking forty-five minutes instead.
I haven’t changed that much since I lived under their roof though – at least not when it comes to reading. They raised me to love books, and if that sometimes meant chores didn’t get done in a timely manner, or I seemed distracted or antisocial, I think they chalked it up to the very best part of their parenting. I certainly do. I wouldn’t trade the part of me that obsesses over a good book for anything. I wouldn’t want to erase the hours we spent as family reading together, both aloud and to ourselves, and it gives me real pleasure to know that as my brother and I grew up and left home, it was something special we all still shared.
Sure, you wouldn’t catch my brother reading a bunch of books about a telepathic woman from Louisiana but he sure did marry the woman who got his sister hooked on them. And while my dad pokes a little fun at my mother and me for our love of genre fiction when he’d rather be reading Shakespeare analysis or biographies, he’s never once suggested we shouldn’t read whatever makes us happy. My mother sneaks her chapters in while drying her hair at the gym, and I get a perverse pleasure from sending both of my sisters-in-law books to read from brilliant, unfinished series just so I’ll have people to lament the wait with.
I love having this connection with my family, and now, with my readers – this mutual addiction of the unread word, and an unapologetic passion for the books we know and love. I adore the feeling of a long-awaited book sitting in my hands. I cherish unexpected titles I find when wandering through the library. And I definitely can’t keep from allowing myself to be head over heels for the books that encourage me to put the world aside for a day.
So thank you, Sookie, for being one of hundreds of characters I’ve encountered in my life that I can’t wait to know more about. It’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s been a damn good ride.
For more about Charlaine Harris, head over here.