The pile of books on my nightstand is an avalanche waiting to happen; novels, histories and memoirs threatening to engulf me at any moment in a flutter of paper and ink. Dozens more wait on a nearby bookshelf. And then there are the recommendations: my daughter’s new favorite, an author friend’s latest manuscript, the newspaper pick of the week, Amazon’s ‘if you liked this…’ Over 200,000 new books are published each year in the US alone. It’s a wonder I ever found time to scribble out Paraglide. So is there really any time to revisit my old faves? How can I justify rereading that novel I devoured ten years ago? Any time spent on the old means one less chance to discover a new classic.
I’ve never treated books like that old movie I’m content to watch again and again. I can list on one hand the titles I’ve read more than once. One of the greatest joys of reading (and of writing!) is the delicious anticipation, the pleasure of discovering what a character will do next. That joy is tempered a bit when you’ve already covered the ground.
Yet many people don’t share this opinion. A fan of the Hunger Games has been rereading the series every month in preparation for the movie version. The well worn pages of an old girlfriend’s D.H. Lawrence novel attested to its enduring allure. A good friend goes from THE END to chapter one as though she were on a circular conveyor belt, proclaiming she sees something new each go around.
Am I missing something here? I admit enjoying The Lord of the Rings just as much fifteen years after I first cracked open the pages back in Myrtle G. Schumann Elementary, but how many of those can there be? What do you think? Why or why wouldn’t you reread a book? How long do you wait? What old favorites deserve a new look? I can think of dozens of the top of my head. The only problem is the nightstand. That tower of books is already looking a bit unsteady.