I’m a book sampling slut. Between novel recommendations on Twitter, discounted books on BookBub, and the discovery of new authors, I’m faced on a daily basis with dozens of books I should read, read, read!
Having limited time on my hands, there are only so many books I’m willing and able to read to completion. So what’s a book nerd to do? Sample. I look inside, I peek at excerpts, I download samples to my iPad with a frequency that’s enthusiastic, unwise, and possibly pathological.
And like a saavy speed-dater, I’ve gotten my book sampling down to an imperfect art: I often know by a few paragraphs, if not a few sentences, whether a book is for me. I almost never read a full excerpt anymore; before I hit page three I often know whether something’s going to end up on my TBR list or not.
This is unfair, and I’m likely missing some very good books this way. But with my voracious habits, I’m not sure how else to survive this reading life.
I recently realized the books I continue reading do something different in my head: they open up a tiny space that wasn’t there before. When I read something that really grabs me, it’s like a room is suddenly carved out in my brain with the door slightly ajar. Even when I walk away from that excerpt, the room is still there in my head, filled with the whispers of unanswered questions: What’s in that room? What worlds and objects can be seen? Who are the people who live there? And, above all: what happens?
Those whispered murmurs can continue for weeks, even months. I know; for the past few days I haven’t been able to get the opening of Graham Joyce’s Dark Sister out of my head—so much I tracked it down in my library system this morning, even though I really should be reading a classic for my book club, or that other library book, or one of the dozen ebooks on my iPad.
But Dark Sister? It whispers to me.
This is what good books do. They change you. They put something in your head that wasn’t there before. And even when you read the book, when almost all the questions are answered, that space is still there. The door may be closed, but the room remains—there’s always a little light underneath, waiting for you to open it again.