You know those scenes in the movies where a bomb has just gone off? The ones where everything is distorted and off balance?
Well, that’s where I am. The world around me has just exploded and I am disorientated. I am blinking to clear my vision. Dust cakes my eyelids, my mouth is a sandpit. The ringing in my ears messes with everything. I sway back and forth desperately, wiping at my eyes, trying to find my family. I want to move, I want to get out of this puddle only to realise the puddle is my legs and the only thing moving is the bell tolling in my head.
That’s what John Green did to me. I picked up a slim blue book, The Fault in Our Stars, on Sunday morning. I emerged a few hours later in the above-mentioned state. Bastard.
Emma Donoghue has done a similar thing to me. She, unlike John didn’t just destroy my Sunday, she destroyed an entire holiday. They only thing I could utter for days after reading Room was Fuck. And I sounded like Keanu Reeves when I said it. There have been other books that have caused similar reactions; The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbach, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Rock Orchard by Paula Wall, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, my first Harry Potter, and Tussen Stasies by Irma Joubert.
I am always furious with an author for making me feel like this. I hate it, because for weeks afterwards I can’t read and I certainly can’t write. Because what do you read after a book that just ripped your guts out and handed them back to you? What do you write after reading a book that is so well thought out, so well-written, so beautiful and epic in its scope? What do you do when your world tilts and you can’t get it back up?
The first thing I do is wallow in it. I wallow for days if need be. I reread passages. I look up random facts about the author. I look at other books they have written, but I pass. Nothing can compare. Not yet anyway. And then slowly I will start writing again. I’ll pick up another book, but I know I’ll be left wanting. It’s like Heroin. Once you’ve had it in your system you’re changed forever. (But this is a good kind of heroin, I don’t know much about the other kind. Apologies to any to needle enthusiast I might have offended.)
So I’ll rather say I feel like those hyenas in Lion King. Where the one goes: Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa and the other one says: Do it again. Do it again. Do it again. Because I want to feel like that again. I want to find another book that changes my world, or better yet I want to write a book that changes your world.
Feel free to leave a reading suggestion in the comments below. I’m desperate. Again.
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by Mia Botha
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