The Literary Event Horizon

Space: The pretty frontier…

I’ve always had this thing but I’ve noticed it much more now that I’m in this hyper-reading feeding frenzy. I have a literary event horizon.

The event horizon is the imaginary border around a black hole; once you cross that line, you cannot escape the black hole’s gravitational pull. The end of a book also has a gravitational pull, but every book’s pull is a little bit different, and as our literary personalities have different amounts of, um, literary mass, our event horizons might be at different points.

Although we now have a reason for saying we got “sucked into a good book.”

All that being said, I have a literary event horizon. In fact, I have several. Do you?

There’s three types I’ve noticed that affect me:

The “I will finish this book” event horizon: Once I cross this threshold, I know I’ll finish the book one way or another. It used to be that I could read halfway, three-quarters way through a book, and I never knew if I’d actually finish it. In the last few years, Sundiver by David Brin and Shivering World by Kathy Tyers suffered that fate. I was enjoying the books well enough; I just never finished reading them. Lately, though, if I get fifty pages into a book, I know I’m going to reach the end. There’s been a few books that I didn’t finish. Some because they’re just so bad; others because I’m simply not in the mood for them. But if I get to page fifty, it’s a sure bet I’ve reached that event horizon that will suck me to the end of the book.

The “I will finish this book today” event horizon: Of course, the closer you plunge to the end of the book, the stronger the pull. Lately, it’s the last hundred pages of the book. If I start the day with a hundred pages or less left in the book, I must finish reading it that day. Of course, I don’t always get the chance to finish… and if I don’t, I’m frustrated.

The “I will finish reading this book in this sitting” event horizon: It used to be a paltry twenty pages; apparently the gravitational pull of the end of a book is getting stronger and stronger. Lately it’s been fifty or more pages. It’s a rare book that doesn’t hold me captive that last fifty pages. Thankfully, I usually hit that point right before bed, so at worst I miss a little bit of sleep. And really, who needs sleep?

Have you noticed these event horizons in your reading habits? How do you handle them? Are they movable depending how massive the novel is, or do you find your event horizons fairly movable? Where do you stand in the literary event horizon spectrum?

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