Why We Skip the Middle

By Jourdan Lobban •

After becoming frustratingly bored reading my latest book, my commitment was no more. Instead of powering through the dry spell, my fingers practiced the ultimate sin, which skipping through the book. 

And instead of reading for the plot, I was fishing for the romance sections that matched my expectations for the novel. My brain only scanned for the lines that would give me instant gratification. By the time I came to the end of the book, with the love story back on track and the emotions on high, my instant gratification had reached its peak. Almost immediately did it come crashing to the earth. This well-crafted piece of literature being the third book of the Delirium Trilogy, Requiem, by Lauren Oliver was not given the love, cherishment, and patience that every book needs when being read thoroughly. It did not help that I had read the first sequel back in early high school. Tying my satisfaction of the book’s plot to a specific [romantic] outcome is not only disrespectful to the author, editors, publishing team, and every other person who worked their asses off in bringing this book to the shelves. It is also missing the very mission of stories, which is reflecting the intricate parts of life as a whole while recognizing the individual value of all of them. 

My enjoying the book could have been sweeter if I had been patient and more appreciative of the parts I deemed “boring”. Much like life, everyone at some point feels the overwhelming urge to skip where they are and dive into the better parts. The problem is, life must be lived in all of its measures equally. It is a story, with its exposition, rising action, climax, fallouts, endings as well as new beginnings. Our brains are programmed into believing that certain outcomes are better than others. Therefore, speeding through the “bad” ones and into the “better” ones becomes our life goal. This type of thinking leads to intentional dissatisfaction with anything that does not fit our standards for the narratives of our lives. Moments are wasted and forgotten, and in our relating what has happened, there isn’t much for being added to the conversation. Nothing may be uploaded to Instagram or is retweeted because of the fear that those moments are not legendary or trendy enough. If it does not fit the mold of fashion, love, and other goals communicated through hashtags, than it is hidden beneath the crevices of our consciousness. Just think of the countless stories of straws up people’s noses during a night out, dates gone comically wrong, and boring days spent in peaceful rain untold because of the unconscious pressure of skipping to the good parts of our lives. 

It is after reading what I had thought was the “good” part of the novel when I realized that the story in its entirety (as a novel and trilogy) is the good part. Between the quiet beginnings, dry spaces between action scenes, shots of blossoming first love, unexpected love triangles, betrayals, and strength born out of deaths that which drove the plot into new beginnings, there is no rational reason for skipping any section of this novel. Reading the novel in its fullest is one thing. Leaving the book for a person who can finish it appreciatively is another. However, only searching for the parts that live up to superficial standards will not bring true contentment as a reader and person. Life cannot be lived that way. Experiencing both the valleys, peaks, and plains is what makes the journey of living a timelessly colorful experience. Literature is only a reflection of that. 

I’m making it my mission to do two things. First, read Requiem for its wholeness as a literary journey, not its isolated events and the feelings they evoke in me. Second, live my life the way I will be reading Requiem.

Jourdan Lobban aims to live life in all of its rising tides and calm waters, with some books, and writing journals.

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