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{Reader’s Life} How to prolong a book after it’s over.

How to prolong a book after it's over | Caroline Donahue Book Dr.

Sometimes it’s really hard to let go when a book ends.

I should know. I’m the queen of trying to stay inside a book once it ends. Any good story ending is cause for heartbreak – I openly cried at the breakfast table the day after my fiancé and I watched the series finale of Downton Abbey. How dare they end that show!

So what are we to do when we finish a book that we’re not ready to leave?

I have a few techniques to keep the love going and to stay connected. Not all books are as enduring physical objects as the manuscript pictured here, that I thoroughly ogled recently in New York at the Morgan Library, so we have to make our own fun to keep the story going.

Here are 5 ways to keep a book alive after you finish it:

  1. Embody your favorite character. This is for the more theatrical of you out there, but I have been known to whip out the garter belts and hook my tights to them for weeks after a read of Henry and June. Wearing skirts and garter belts and riding around on bicycles and writing in my journal while wearing a kimono keeps me in that world indefinitely. Eventually I am much encouraged to stop complaining of my weak constitution and pining for Paris so I move on, but it’s lovely while it lasts. For any book, try wearing an outfit your main character would love, cooking her go-to recipe, reading her favorite book, or trying a new makeup look- try this youtube channel for those historical fiction lovers our there!
  2. Choose your own soundtrack. I love this one. When I really love a book and can’t let it go I find myself making up what the soundtrack of the movie would be. Make a Spotify playlist and throw on any songs that feel like they belong on the soundtrack. Then listen to it while going about your day. If you’ve done step 1 as well, this will be doubly impactful.
  3. Read the book in its original language or in translation. Some of my very favorite books were written in translation. Since I already know the story, it makes it a little easier to go back and read the original. A great one that’s been translated from English into multitudes of other languages- Harry Potter. If you miss Harry, why not try him in French or Italian or Spanish? I have a copy of The Elegance of the Hedgehog in French and can’t wait until my skills are good enough to read that one the way it was written. That would be such a proud moment.
  4. Plan an adventure. Bonus points if you can take an actual trip related to a book you’ve recently read, but leaving your city probably isn’t even necessary. Was the character in your book fascinated with art? Then try going to see paintings from a similar period in history at a local museum. Loved a book that featured food as a major character? Try a restaurant you’ve never been to before and imagine the characters from the book joining you. Another surefire way to get into the spirit of a book outside its cover is to search for buildings or architectural tours in your city that feature details from the period when your book occurred. See what those times and spaces might have been like and check out new buildings to boot. Whenever I’ve read Jane Austen or something featuring grand old houses, I don’t despair that I’m not in England (well I do, let’s be honest) because I can go to the Huntington Library, which basically looks like Pemberly or at least the Bingley’s house. Sitting out on that lawn, I feel like I’m right inside her novels. Look for something that relates to your book in your area, and you’ll likely find a favorite new hangout. And for the truly dedicated, plan a trip to visit the locations of your book. There may even be enough people who loved it that there’s a dedicated tour waiting for you.
  5. Learn a new skill. Whether you love detective novels, romance novels, classic literature, or any other sort of book, the one you loved dearly probably featured a character with skills you don’t currently have. My love of crime fiction has lead me to attend forensics seminars given in Los Angeles and I was absolutely fascinated. Is your character a knitter? Try your hand at making a scarf. The weirder or more obscure the hobby the better- it will give you that much more visceral an experience of the book. What about snowshoeing? Block printing? Smoking fish? Think about how your character spent his or her time and then find a friend or class who can help you try it yourself.

I hope this inspires you to hold onto the world of the books you’ve loved. I know I have been heartbroken to put one back on the shelf and haven’t wanted to give up that world. Now you can keep it going for a bit longer.

Have you ever figured out ways to stay in a book’s world longer than when you were reading it? I’d love to hear about it! Please share your adventures in the comments below… Let’s all stay in love with our reading together.

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