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To begin with you’re cautious. The cover is attractive enough, true. And you’ve heard some good reports from your friends. But you’re particular. You don’t want to waste your time on another no-hoper.

So you flirt a little. Flip through the pages. Pick it up and put it down again. Go over the synopsis one more time. Eventually, something tells you to persevere.

Now you’re a chapter in and you’re playing along. Not quite taking in the details, just trying to decide if it feels right. It’s not too late, you remind yourself, to slam it shut, start something new, or pull something old and familiar from the shelf.

Gradually, infatuation kicks in. You start to think you’ve found your perfect match. Isn’t this, in fact, the greatest book you have ever read?! You carry on in a happy haze, just the two of you. Long Sundays in bed. Lazy afternoons on the beach. The rest of the world blocked out. You sit together in easy silence and look at the sky and the grass and the trees like you’ve never seen them before.

Little things start to annoy you. This is inevitable. Small transgressions, imperfections, moments they bore you or make you roll your eyes. You notice they’re a little more scuffed around the edges than they used to be. You catch yourself passing bookshops and gawping at the shiny new titles in the window, thinking how they would feel in your hands...

Sometimes, you wonder how it will all end.

It has to end. 

That’s the deal. 

As the pages trickle by, the future turning to past in your fingertips, you try to keep this from your mind. But eventually, in a moment you didn’t quite plan - stood at a bus stop or walking on your lunch break or sat in a park in brilliant, mocking sunshine - your love affair stops.

It might have a shocking twist. It might fizzle out gently. You might be left full of rage, or grief.

Either way you have learned something, even if it takes a while to figure out what that is. In time, the sad, hollow feeling no one else can quite understand will be replaced with gratitude and memories that get richer with age. 

You put it down for the last time. 

And then you start something new.

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