Ok – I hope I am not about to reveal myself as a literary weirdo but does anyone else have an aversion to pausing reading and putting a book down in the middle of a chapter? Does anyone else feel guilty and a bit naff? To me it almost feels like you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone and you suddenly turn and walk away while they’re in mid sentence. You know … a bit rude. Or is this just me and my strange brain? Yeah – it’s probably that.
I have no idea how this little tic (as I like to call it) of mine developed. The why? Well I might have a small clue there and it’s all personality related. As a human I like order and balance. I don’t like mess and I’m not a fan of leaving things half finished. So perhaps I see stepping away mid chapter as an example of just that – disorder, imbalance and messiness. The minute I do, I feel a compulsive pull back to the book to end things properly.
But there are layers to this. It’s not a blanket hard and fast rule so to speak. Some chapters are constructed as a whole with no breaks other than by paragraph. These are the ones that cause the most issues. But some chapters contain sub parts, breaks for a change of scenery, event or perspective. If this happens I don’t mind so much if I pause because it feels appropriate and acceptable. I’m being given permission by the author. If we go back to the conversation example, it would be like moving to talk to someone else during a natural lull. A polite ‘I’m just going to pop over and see Bob’ followed by a discreet nod of ‘sure no worries’ from your companion.
Now this, as an issue or something to be aware of, might be a total non-starter if the author has kept the chapters in their book short. I can’t tell you how happy I am when I open a book and see nice tidy medium to short length chapters. My delight is childlike almost to the point of clapping my hands in glee especially if this is a book that I have a real interest in.
Now I know what you’re now thinking. Does that mean that she would discard a book for the sole reason that it has long chapters? Absolutely and most certainly not. It might mean that I will give the plot synopsis a second read and skim a chapter or two to try and get a more of a feel for the writing. If the story was still grabbing me then long chapters be damned, I’ll give the book a go. I will just have to manage my reading sessions and expectations accordingly.
I have also found that managing long chapters on an e-reader is harder than when reading with a traditional physical book … at least for me it is. Trying to put into words why is quite difficult. I think the fact that you can flip through individual paper pages gives a better sense of where you are in the book and on the smaller scale, the chapter. It allows a greater sense of place within the whole. Sorry if that sounds pompous or over the top. It’s the best explanation that I have been able to come up with thus far.
Anyway I hope this hasn’t sent anyone running for the hills or diving behind their couch or hiding under their blankets. I assure you that I am perfectly normal, well where most things are concerned. I just happen to not like pausing in the middle of chapters. What can I say? I’m sure I’m not the only one with funny little reading habits. If you have some drop in and share them in the comments. I would love to hear about them!
(Header Image: Negative Space)