Books and reading,  Life: bits and pieces

Last conversations, last greetings, last books: a strange New Year’s message

This is a ‘Strange New Year message’ because it’s all about ‘lasts’. Usually, as a new year rolls in, we are caught up in thinking about everything new and shiny: new year plans, resolutions, a new calendar on the wall…

And I’ve been doing all that too, of course. I’ve set my goal for 2019: to have a completed and edited manuscript of my first novel, and be well and truly on the path to approaching agents and publishers to gauge interest in the story.

For this post, though, I want to write about ‘last’ things.

How do we know when its the last time we do something, see something, speak to someone?

I ask this because last night, I called to wish Happy New Year to an elderly person in my life. After I had hung up the phone, I began to wonder if this was to be the last New Year greeting I would exchange with that person, who is not in the best of health and approaching the grand age of 90.

Would knowing that it was the last time I wished her a Happy New Year, change the way I did so? Or the way I act before or afterward? Probably. But of course I don’t know, and generally speaking, we never do. Which is, perhaps, for the best.

That got me thinking about other ‘lasts.’

The last time I might kiss someone hello, or goodbye.

The last breakfast I might eat.

The last coffee I enjoy.

The last swim ( I’m writing this post after 20 laps at my beautiful local pool, and it’s mid summer here in Australia, so swimming is definitely on my agenda right now)

The last piece of beautiful music I hear.

The last book I read.

Disappearing down that particular rabbit hole has me reflecting on what I would choose, if I knew that a book was to be my last one ever…and I truly don’t know the answer! Would I choose to re- read a well loved favourite, perhaps one I hadn’t read in a while? Or would I elect to tackle one of the many, many books on my ‘to be read’ list?

Even thinking about that incites a little bubble of panic. I always say, only partly joking, ‘So many books, so little time’. But of course I never really think that I won’t actually have enough time to read all the books I want to. Despite being perfectly aware of the reality that we all leave this life some day, I have never truly considered the fact that there will be a last book. So, which one would I choose?

Which book would you choose for your last book ever? Let me know in the comments.

And, Happy New Year to you and yours.

All about books, reading, writing - and history.


  • Whispering Gums

    I enjoyed this post, because this issue of lasts is one I thought about around a decade or so ago when my ma-in-law was alive. She died in 2011 on her 97th birthday.

    I remember when she suddenly stopped reading – that is, I suddenly realised that she’d read her last book, but hadn’t known it at the time. And then I thought about the other last – the last piece of handwork she did, the last film she went to see, the last walk she could go on independently etc. Most of these happen, but you only know them in retrospect. But, of course, almost from the moment we are born these lasts start happening don’t they? Your last breastfeed at you mother’s breast, you last time in a nappy/diaper (well until you go back into them – hmmm!), and so on. Life is a strange thing.

    If I could choose my last book it would probably be a Jane Austen – but it would depend a bit on my mood.

  • Denise Newton

    Life is, indeed, a strange thing. Circles and spirals.

    Not sure I’d choose a Jane Austen as my last book…though I do enjoy them.

    I just hope to be able to get through more of my ‘To be read’ list before I need to make that definitive choice.

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