Good Books, Bad Endings, and Why I Never Had a Genuine Relationship with Nancy Drew
Sometimes, finishing a good book feels similar to ending a tragic love affair. From the beginning, I know it’s going to end, but I dive in anyway believing the pleasure between the covers will be worth all the pain of separation later.
My obsession with a really good book is often like being in the throes of a passionate affair: I think about it all the time, I ignore responsibilities so I can spend time with it, and almost every conversation reminds me of it.
That’s not surprising. My relationships with books have often mirrored my relationships with people.
While I have a lot of acquaintances, I’ve found that when I truly need support I generally fall back on the same trusted few people again and again.Similarly, I fall back on the same book or a favorite author when I just want to escape with a good read.
A good read, to me, isn’t an implausible plot that is moved forward with simple sentences and a lot of action. Just as I prefer complex, yet genuine, people, I prefer complex stories that can make me believe the unbelievable.
In other words, content is more important than showmanship, and flawed characters are more interesting than heroes who always say and do the right thing.
That’s probably why, as a girl, I just could never relate to Nancy Drew. As a lifelong mystery lover, I don’t recall having much issue with the plots of her books, but I definitely remember having issues with Nancy herself. She was too one-dimensional, and I could never relate to a girl who had it all: good looks, a boyfriend, a chic wardrobe, and popularity.
As an awkward kid who struggled with getting through each day without too much turmoil, I don’t know what bothered me more – the ease with which she went through life or that her perfection was incredibly boring.
I still don’t do boring or predictable well. And because of that, I’ve been known to play the field with a lot of books. I’ve even developed a reputation for dumping many before I make it past the fifth chapter.
But at least those books didn’t suck me in before it was too late. There is absolutely nothing worse than a book that gets me all excited throughout only to fail to deliver at the very end. I don’t know if the authors just don’t plan well, get bored with the writing process, or have to meet a deadline, but they seem to be meeting their own needs rather than that of their reader.
I’ve been encountering more and more such books lately. They start off with a well-developed plot and characters that capture me completely through most of the pages. But then, they end quickly by tying up all the loose ends in a neat package that leaves me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.
Such books used to leave me doubting my own judgement. But not anymore. Just as we grow with both our successful and our failed relationships, I’ve come to believe we can also grow with each book we read no matter how it ends.
At least that’s what I’m telling myself as I find myself completely immersed in my latest book. And just as with the start of any relationship, I have high hopes that it will be both satisfying and leave me wanting more.