Thursday, January 22, 2015
Reasons to Reread
I still remember sitting in my honors geography class in 9th grade, and my teacher Mr. Melessa being floored that so many of us, his bright smart honor students, reread books. "There are so many new books to read," he said. "Why would you waste time reading something you've already read?"
It's a good thing he was a geography teacher and not an English teacher.
Still, I've put a lot of thought into this question over the years. Because it's true, right now my to-read list on Goodreads has more books on it than my "read" list, which means if I focused singularly on getting through my to-read list it would take me at least five years (is that really how long I've been using Goodreads?) And of course it would actually take longer, because I add books to that to-read list almost daily, so there will never be a day when I get through them all. There will always be new ones to add.
So why would I waste my time reading something I've already read?
I'm sure everyone has a different reason for rereading a favorite book, but there are plenty of reasons. My most reread books tend to be religious or other non-fiction that I want to apply to my life. Application requires constant reminding, and so I revisit those books every now and then to inspire and rededicate myself to better living.
Sometimes I revisit books for sheer pleasure. It doesn't matter how many times I've read it before, Harry Potter never seems to get old.
And sometimes I revisit a book because I'm fascinated how every reread seems to reveal a completely new story, while still feeling like a comfortable old friend. For me, this is the case with Jane Austen.
For my virtual book club this past month, we decided to reread Pride and Prejudice. The first time I read this book (when I was in 6th grade) I was surprised at how funny it was, and I laughed my way through the whole book. When I reread it in high school I of course fawned all over Mr. Darcy and lamented how none of the boys I knew could ever possibly live up to him. When I reread it in college, I found myself super annoyed at Lizzie. What a stupid girl she was! How could she be so blind and prejudiced?
And with this most recent reread, I found myself really focusing on the various marriage relationships, especially the Bennetts and the Collinses. For a woman who was never married Austen sure understood relationships, especially the imperfect ones. This is the first time I've reread P&P since being married myself, and so I realized all the nuances in these relationships that I'd never really picked up on before. It was a great experience to reflect on what actually makes a marriage work and, even though Lizzie and Darcy are touted as being the perfect couple, Austen makes a great case in this book for finding contentment even when your partner is less than perfect. It's really quite deep stuff.
I'm getting excited already thinking about the next Austen book I want to reread (but it probably won't happen for a while, what with school starting up again this week).
So, are you a rereader? What are your reasons for rereading? What are your favorite books to reread?