Monday, January 6, 2014

On Rereading

When your "To Read" list is just about as long as your "Read" list, the prospect of rereading a book just for the pleasure of it is troubling.

On one hand, reading should be about enjoyment - you should read whatever you want to read when you want to read it. You should read the same book fifty times if it makes you happy. 

But on the other hand, reading is about exploration and discovery, accruing knowledge and gaining a new perspective. You should read as many books as you possibly can because the next book just might be the book - the one that changes your writing and mindset and makes you smarter.

Personally, I am stuck in the second camp. I have a very hard time rereading anything, even if I absolutely loved it. I am almost paranoid in my desire to read, and have read, everything. It's impossible, but that's what makes it desirable for me. I want to know everything there is to know about literature. This has proven to be very troublesome. For example, despite having an intense need to write, I am reluctant to write until I've read every novel ever written so that I may get my bearings and understand what has worked, what hasn't, and what's already been done. Yeah. It's a very stressful and silly position to be in, but I just can't shake it.

I was so adamant on not "wasting time" on rereading that when I moved last fall, I left a majority of the books I had already read at my parents'. That way, I wouldn't even be tempted to set aside the new maybe-not-so-good book for a familiar, comfortable favorite.

I think that the only time I've ever really reread a book was when I was assigned the same novel for class in two different years and was worried that I wouldn't pass the tests and complete the essays without a fresh read-over... (It seems so sad when I put it that way.)

But as I read more and get older and fill my head with more useless ephemera, I realize that the books, quotes, characters, settings, and phrases I once loved are slipping away. Slowly, ever-so-slightly, I am forgetting just why I like the things I like. I need to reread these works if I want to remain comfortable in my understanding of them, but, I know that this will just open another can of worms... I'll want to reread everything so that I may know everything all the time. Maybe I'm crazy.

Anyway, if I can ever convince myself to reread something, here's what I'd like to reread:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Blankets by Craig Thompson
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Most of them are sentimental, some are because I read them too young to fully understand. I guess there are fewer than I thought, so I guess that's encouraging. We'll see what happens.

1 comment:

  1. You know what makes this worse? Goodreads! You'll see a rating and not even remember the basic plot. Or, you'll read your own brief review and not recall feeling that way at all. I've re-read comments I wrote on other's reviews and not been able to fathom what made me so against their opinion. I think this is maybe why Goodreads also has that super-secret "take notes for yourself" area in the reviews.