In The Last Chapter, by David Hettinger, a young woman leans over a book in a pose of engagement and relaxation. She is not distracted by the artist who paints her or by the lovely view outside the nearby windows. She is nearing the end of a good book but she is taking the time to savor every page. For those of us who enjoy reading, getting to the last chapter of a good book can be a very thrilling experience. Many people experience strong emotions from sheer joy to deep sorrow. It is common to feel a sense of loss, since the characters with whom you have identified and loved for a week or a month, must be left behind. I am sure many of us have wished that books we love would continue on—have had wild fantasies of contacting an authors and commissioning a series. It is equally common to feel a sense of achievement or accomplishment.
An acquaintance of mine has always felt compelled to read the last chapter of a book first, which is like landing on the top of a mountain without having climbed it. He felt the value of the book could be determined by the last few pages which he would skim in the library upon opening the cover. If the pages titillated, he would take the book home, if not, he would put it back and read no further. What a terrible curse! It seemed to me this was a somewhat pathological expression of his inability to wait for any outcome or to face a future filled with unknowns. But what would life be like if we simply skipped to the end? I couldn’t help but reflect on myself and how I tend to rush towards my goals, rather than enjoy the process. Most people are guilty of it—running from point A to point B, from Monday to Friday, from the start of a new career to their next big promotion. It’s so easy to forget that the meat of our days does matter.
This summer, take a page out of The Last Chapter and slow yourself down with a good book. There are some great reads about the Lowcountry if you have an interest in Charleston and the surrounding area. Dorothea Benton Frank is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve books set in the Lowcountry including Folly Beach, Lowcountry Summer, The Land of Mango Sunsets, Isle of Palms, Plantation and Sullivan’s Island. She is also a Lowcountry native. Many people feel that her first book, Sullivan’s Island, is her best. Frank’s books are great beach reads—entertaining and fun—and a great introduction to the islands surrounding Charleston. Visit her website here.Pat Conroy is a southern author who was born in Atlanta, GA and attended The Citadel in Charleston. You can visit his website here. Two of his books, Beach Music and South of Broad, are set in the Lowcountry. Beach Music has come to me with the highest recommendations. You might want to find a good quiet spot, like the model in Hettinger’s The Last Chapter to really get into this one.