A Bookish Lament: The Pain of Waiting

I finished reading A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir the other day. It’s the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and it’s excellent. I raced through it in two days and tormented myself into a state of such high excitement that I felt compelled to check when book 3 is coming out. And this is when my life was destroyed. Because the next book is due out in 2018.

Yes, 2018. As in 2 years from now.

Here are some things that will have happened by 2018: I will be 35; my daughter will have started actual school; we may well be living on the moon or something; I will most definitely have forgotten everything that happened in A Torch Against the Night. This is no reflection on the quality of Tahir’s writing, but, in fact, a sad indictment of my terrible memory for plot details, character names and lists of who actually survived the last book. I appreciate that it takes a long time to write a book; I respect that. But forcing me to wait so long (because, let’s be honest, ‘2018’ might mean ‘December 2018,’ which would be more than 2 years) is deeply distressing because of my comprehensive lack of patience.

Ahh, patience. I have often been told that it would be a good idea for me to acquire some of this mystical trait. When I told my dad I was applying for teacher training, his bemused response was, “but don’t you need patience and tolerance to be a teacher?” (Clearly not. I’ve been doing it 10 years, so, haha, dad.) It turns out that patience would be a far more useful skill in my reading life than in my professional one.

A Torch Against the Night isn’t even the only example of this torturously delayed gratification. I have been waiting a year for Gemina, the sequel to Illuminae, and the release date was recently put back a week so that it now comes out on the day I go on holiday and will thus be unable to read it until at least a week later. I was deeply excited to take delivery of my copy of Crooked Kingdom on the day of its release, having waited a year for it; a year in which, it turns out, I have forgotten about 75% of Six of Crows and had to secretly Google the plot to remind me who the bloody hell Kuwei is. My excuse is that I read a lot of books and, consequently, it is inhumane to expect me to actually remember anything from any of them.

Sadly, my lack of patience also means I am unable to wait until a full series is out before starting to read. I was lucky enough not to discover either The Raven Cycle or Jeff Vandermeer’s outstanding Southern Reach trilogy until they were out in full, so I could read whole series in the space of a few weeks. It would, however, be highly unrealistic to attempt this with any of the bookish franchises which are so widely discussed on Twitter, because of those annoying people who can’t help but spoil things. I hate those people.

My impatience doesn’t end with waiting for the next book in a series. The second I place an online book order, I start looking through the window for the delivery driver. This is not even an exaggeration. Even with pre-orders, which I know won’t arrive until the day of release, I check the status of my Amazon orders every day just to see if it might come early. The same applies to library reservations; I have been waiting for a copy of Hot Milk by Deborah Levy for approximately 7 thousand years and it is starting to make me lose my grip. Never mind the fact that I have a house full of books to read. I want that one.

I’ve always been like this. My mum would make me choose the books I wanted to take on family holidays weeks in advance (she’s one of those packing-3-weeks-before-departure types) and I’d spend the next fortnight sneaking the suitcase out from the cupboard to read my embargoed tomes. And let’s not even get into how often I impatiently whizz through the end of a book; not because I’m bored with it, but just because I can no longer wait to start the next one.

Do I need help? Does anyone else suffer in these terrible ways? While my chronic impatience is a source of great amusement to those around me, it is less fun when you’re actually living it. If all authors could just help me out by publishing a whole series at once, that would just be super.

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