One of the most satisfying things for me is to finish a book just as my bus pulls up to the corner where I get off on my way home from work. I’m not entirely sure why it is so satisfying but I suspect it has something to do with not being left hanging to finish a page or two later in the evening or more likely, on the bus ride the next morning at which point I encounter an unsatisfying book experience — finishing a book too far from my destination to want to sit and stare out the window into the dark or else immediately begin a new book without the one I just finished having time to sink in. Today’s moment of reading satisfaction happened with Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark a beautiful book that I will write about in a few days after it has finished working its way through my reading brain.

My good feeling over the perfect timing of finishing the book has me thinking over what other things about the reading experience I find so very satisfying.

  • Being close to finishing a book. When I have reached the final 50 pages or so I find myself beginning to anticipate the ending. Not that I am in a hurry to be done and move on, but for the “finding out how it ends” even if the end isn’t really an end. Some books get me worked up near the end more than others. You know, the ones where you find yourself wondering, “how could this possibly end?” and you hope it will be good but fear it will be bad because everything you have already read leaves you wondering “how could this possibly end?”
  • Looking forward to starting a new book. Oh the anticipation! Sometimes I drag it out a little longer just for the pleasure of it.
  • Starting a new book. I love this feeling so much that even if I have five or six books on the go, I sometimes start a new book just because. Even in my life I enjoy beginnings much more than endings. It’s the feeling of learning a new setting, new characters, new story, figuring it all out and putting it all together. I like feeling a little unmoored as I get my bearings at the beginning of the book.
  • A note about the type. I so love it when books include a note about the font used. I can’t tell one type from another but that doesn’t stop me from loving the note on it. These notes don’t often appear anymore which is too bad.
  • Book piles and full bookshelves. I love being surrounded by books. They are such a comfort to me just having them around. I haven’t had to move in a long time, but before our current house Bookman and I owned a townhouse. The realtor told us that we had to box up most of our books to make the house less cluttered and more attractive to prospective buyers. Books aren’t clutter! But we did it and stacked the boxes in the the garage. It’s a good thing the housing market was brisk at that time and it only took two weeks to sell the place because not having books everywhere made Bookman and I both really stressed out. One of the first things we did when we moved into our new house was open a box of books. We immediately felt so much better.
  • That old book smell. Yes, I know it is a bad smell because it means mold and all that, but gosh, when I walk into a used bookstore and inhale — I think that’s what heaven must smell like.
  • Lists. I love making reading lists! I love reading the reading lists of other people. To be sure, the “100 Best books ever” kinds of lists make me nutty but I love reading them too and then arguing with them, sputtering in indignation, “how could you forget my favorite books?!” I also love crossing things off lists. The lists never seem to get shorter though.

I am sure as soon as I post this I will think of other things to add to the list, but it’s a good start. What satisfying thing would you add?