Fictional Seperation Anxiety?

I have always been a slow reader.

Ever since my first grade school book reading contest I knew that I would never be a world-champion speed reader. In fact I read so slowly that I have trouble following subtitles on foreign films.

I was reading a good book the other day and I noticed that I was nearing the middle of the novel. After a few minutes spent trying to recount the books I have read I realized that I have trouble remembering which books I actually finished. Thinking about that fact a possible reason came to me: Finishing books makes me depressed.

I am especially empathetic to the characters in stories I read. This causes me to become attached to the people and places I read about and I am able to visualize the events which unfold page after page. Not only do I relate to the characters and imagine being in the places they see but I consider the outcome of their decisions while at my daily routine. I put myself in their veritable shoes and think about what I would do in the described situations.

Once I have read the ending I have much less to think about. Most stories end with a conclusive event. Something happens to the characters which either kills them or solves their problem. They reach their goal, achieve their quest, acquire their treasure, win their lover, destroy their enemy, or save their world. I am left with the memory of the story but the closure has also ended my imagined companionship.

Thus I put the book down and leave the hero in mid-peril so that I can imagine what he (or she) will do to escape. It gives me a sense of contiuum and reassurance that I am not alone in the unknown. I am not the only one whose future is uncertain… just because the hero’s future has been written doesn’t mean I have to read it.