mercredi 5 octobre 2011

On Rereading

I've always loved to reread books. When I was growing up, I was a huge rereader, but more out of necessity than by choice. I only had so many books at home and I had read them all, so when I wanted to read, I had to pick up one of the books that was available. No Internet to download a free e-book from, no library within walking or even biking distance from our house. I would usually get a box full of books for Christmas and my birthday, but they wouldn't last very long...

Now that I'm older and new books are just a click away (or a short walk to the library or bookstore), I still find myself picking up books I've read before, flipping through them and becoming so engrossed that I find myself reading the whole thing over again. That's one of the main reasons I love owning books rather than borrowing them from the library: having easy access to the exact copies that you have read before. In fact, whenever I see a used book that has the exact cover of the first edition I read, I have to have it. It just brings back so many memories and somehow makes the read even more pleasurable. Rereading is also the reason why I have such a hard time getting rid of books once I've finished them: but what if I want to reread it one day?

I used to feel guilty about rereading books and would try to stop myself, telling myself that I had about 50 (or more!) unread books waiting for me on another shelf. But now I've decided that there are no rules when it comes to reading. Since I read for pleasure, and so I read what I feel like reading, WHEN I feel like reading it. And so, this year, I've reread the entire His Dark Materials trilogy, some poems of Shel Silverstein's, and La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes. And I got SO much more out of each book than I did the first time around! I think it's probably because of the way I've changed over the years - matured, I suppose. And all of the other books I've read between the first reading and the rereading add to my experience as well: they've become part of my cultural baggage, and they help me understand references I hadn't gotten before.

I found this quote on the Chien de lisard website*, and I think it describes rereading perfectly:

« Un bon livre est celui qu'on retrouve toujours plein après l'avoir vidé. »

(Jacques Deval)

And recently I read, on Eva's "Striped Armchair" blog, the following line: "I will always choose something old over something new: the sense of history, of 'living' just seems greater." Exactly.

*Chien de lisard is the name of a bookclub created by the Quebec City Libraries, and they have a beautiful manifesto... see the sidebar!

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