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Reflections on Rereading: October

October 18, 2011

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Now that my meds have kicked in, I’m jumping back into blogging by sharing some general thoughts on my first fortnight of rereading. I have to admit that I was in a serious reading slump almost the whole time. :( I don’t think this had anything to do with my decision to only reread. I tend to cycle through reading highs and lows, and my September was very full as far as books go (I read forty-five), so a bit of burnout was to be expected. Not to mention life and health got a bit crazy there. That didn’t make it less frustrating! All in all, I only reread five books: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie (a Miss Marple), The Game by Laurie King, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers and The Return of the King. I am theoretically rereading Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh on audio, but I haven’t actually progressed past the second CD (distracted by podcasts at home and haven’t been able to go on my usual walks in the park with Thistle due to silly health issues), so I’m not counting it.

It’s immediately obvious that the Brits dominated, with four of the five, and even American Laurie King’s characters are primarily British. Also, all of the authors are white; this doesn’t surprise me, since my past reading (and thus what I’m drawing on for my rereading pool) was not nearly as diverse as it has been since last year. The genres were slightly more varied: two mysteries, two fantasy, and one classic. But none of these characteristics really result from rereading: they’re instead reflective of my comfort reading. After all, I was going through a slump, so I barely felt like reading at all. There was no way I could convince myself to pick up a book that would challenge me, or possibly have anything unhappy about it. I wanted the familiar and safe and cosy: the book equivalent of sweatpants. And I got it by turning to several of my very favourite authors, most of whom I’ve been reading for over a decade now (Laurie King is the newest; I didn’t start her Mary Russell series until 2006). As always, I noticed new things about each novel as I revisited it, but already having the general lay of the land made for a relaxing time.

I have to admit, this wasn’t how I had planned to spend this first part of my rereading project. And come November, I fully expect to be more adventurous (and diverse) with my choices. But you can’t really force reading, and were it not for having familiar, dependable choices, I probably wouldn’t have read anything at all. I read for many reasons, and part of the magic of books is that there is one for every need. And the magic of rereading is that you already know, from the very first page, that the book is the right one. :)

15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2011 3:01 pm

    “And the magic of rereading is that you already know, from the very first page, that the book is the right one. :)”

    I like that. So very true.

  2. October 18, 2011 3:35 pm

    I really need to designate some time for re-reads. I’ve never been a big re-reader mostly because there is just always something new to pique my interest! Think I’ll put this one into my reading plan for the next year (maybe even do a re-read before this year ends?). You’ve mentioned two that I want to re-read: Northanger Abbey and Sea of Poppies. Just put Sea of Poppies on my Kindle the other day and want to get to that soon!

  3. October 18, 2011 5:05 pm

    I have been considering listening to the whole Harry Pottery series for my winter commute, mostly because I am running out of audiobooks at the moment and that sounds like a fun series for my commute. I’ve read them already of course, but I’ve only re-read the first three, which leaves the last four ripe for a re-read. But then, as is always the case when considering a re-read — is that really how I want to spend my reading/listening time? Will I enjoy it enough, or would I rather be experiencing something new? Since, in this case, I am running out of audio (my library is limited and I haven’t fully explored the online library), it might be fine for the winter chilly commute, but I still hesitate.

  4. October 18, 2011 5:06 pm

    Harry PotteR, not “Pottery.” Although that might be a funny fanfic!

  5. October 18, 2011 5:55 pm

    I’ve only read one Tolkien (The Hobbit) and some Jane Austen. I keep seeing you mention Laurie King – I really need to give her a try.

    When did you start consciously being more diverse in your reading choices?

  6. October 18, 2011 7:00 pm

    I need to reread more. I am terrible for it… I have done better this year than others, but that is not saying a lot…

  7. October 18, 2011 7:06 pm

    Your rereads sound like perfect comfort reads to me! I’ve been pretty much just reading new books lately, but I’m thinking December might be the perfect time for returning to some old favorites.

  8. October 18, 2011 9:30 pm

    When I reread books, I tend to go towards the “sweatpants” books, too. Once I read a book that I know is going to be good, it makes it easier to move on to the ones that I’m more unsure about. It reminds me that there ARE rockin’ books out there, even if I have been coming across quite a few duds lately! :)

    I’m excited to see how your more adventurous rereads turn out. I know there are a lot of books I’ve dismissed as uninteresting or ho-hum before, but I wonder if I could find things to like about them in a reread. This is probably a question I will put off answering for a long time, haha.

  9. ana permalink
    October 18, 2011 11:28 pm

    Love the final sentence, Eva. Really resonated with me. You have a way with words indeed.

  10. October 19, 2011 9:07 am

    I like what you said about how when you re-read, you know a book will be exactly the right one for you at that time… But then I started to think about the “suck fairy”, and how one of the most heartbreaking things is when you revisit a previously loved book only to find that it is not nearly as wonderful as you once thought! I like to think my very favorite books will be safe from the suck fairy, but one can never be entirely certain… I guess the thing is that books don’t change, but we as people and readers do, and so in many ways, one can never actually read the same book twice!

  11. October 19, 2011 7:34 pm

    Lovely, Eva. I would like to make more time for rereading myself. I just have so many books on my TBR piles, both at home and at the library.

  12. October 20, 2011 1:38 pm

    I love your last sentence — that’s why I love rereading too! Welcome back to blogging. I’m glad you are finally feeling better again. May it last!

  13. October 21, 2011 6:22 am

    “After all, I was going through a slump, so I barely felt like reading at all.”

    “…and my September was very full as far as books go (I read forty-five),”

    I’m not saying a word…

  14. October 21, 2011 3:09 pm

    Re-reading just doesn’t get enough good press. It’s pretty amazing really.

  15. October 21, 2011 3:33 pm

    Sounds like your rereading project came along at just the right time.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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