Frequently, when I finish a book I enjoyed, or a series of them, I suffer what feels to me like a depressive state. Dragged from that world, populated by characters I could rely on and places vividly expressed in my head, adjusting to the often mundane, gritty and imperfect world is a challenge.

It seems that it depends on how you view books. Are they a gateway to knowledge? Escapism? Easy entertainment? If I answer it for myself, it was immersion. Being somewhere else, someone else.

I was a kid always with my head in a book. My home was always safe, I was always loved and cared for. There were bullies, times of maladjustment and loneliness too, but not on-going ostracism to build this need for a book into something innate. This melancholia, present before I could even spell the word or describe it.

There’s two reasons I can see for it in my case. A book will never reject you. It can disappoint you, be unsatisfying but never specifically make you feel insufficient. Having read it can connect you to others, though I can probably count on one hand the close friends I remember discussing books, particularly formative books with.

The second is you can be the best version on yourself. You inhabit someone’s psyche, a moment in time. You can stand up to injustice, dare to take on the evil, hold someone who you feel deeply for when they cry, and yes, love a little. A great author can make you feel everything.

Their words can take you to places you want to go to but have never been without that cultural disconnect, the jet lag, the biting insects, or soggy socks and bone deep fatigue. There’s no work or cleaning or ablutions. No one needing anything from you.

Regardless of what drives you to disappear into a narrative world, the broken, flawed but very real life seems a disappointment. And the next book is unappealing for a time: it’s not the right world. You can’t know what is between those covers.

Short of waiting, and wallowing, the only answer I’ve found is time, letting the echoes of that previous novel fade before you can begin that new journey.

Until then, I’ll wait over here with my disappointment and personal grey cloud. Just until I am ready to start, all over again.

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