Whenever I finish one book, I often find myself with the delicious dilemma of choosing which one will be the next taken off my shelves. But my to-read list has grown longer than my to-do list. (Darn you, Goodreads!)
So, why would I reread books? Sometimes I want to slow the insatiable desire for new, better, more and hang out with the familiar. Like sitting with an old friend and reminiscing for a while.
Also, books change as we change. As we gain more life experiences and have more years on this planet, our perspective changes. I admit—I didn’t like Pride and Prejudice when I read it in high school. Now, it’s one of my favorites. (Though, I think I’d have to live a long, long time to change my original opinion of Moby Dick. *cough*)
There are some books I reread and realize that I missed the point the first time around. Maybe I was distracted by life’s little intrusions. Maybe I was skimming. (Note to self: Don’t skim! Why bother!?)
Here are seven books on my TBRR* list:
*To Be ReRead
All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot. My copy is yellowed and the cover is torn (see photo), but I’m not getting rid of it. As a country veterinarian in 1930s Yorkshire, Herriot’s patients ranged from dogs and cats to pigs and cows. He wove his animal tales (pun intended), while painting a beautiful portrait of the windswept moors and the hardy, hardworking farmers. I remember his stories as warm, but not sappy; insightful, but not preachy.
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. When I read this novel in college, I’d learned that the story shocked readers when it was published in 1899. I thought Kate Chopin was prescient, imagining what female marital infidelity would look like. But now I wonder: Was the book ahead of its time or was it shockingly contemporary? Just because it wasn’t discussed openly doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening. A good book to reread in this Snapchat, swipe left, share everything age we live in.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. There is practically a law that says you must read this book before you visit Savannah, Georgia. And so I did. And it was terrific. And to a large extent that is my memory of the plot. So when a friend read it and recounted the escapades of the Lady Chablis, the eccentric drag queen, I realized it’s time to be enamored all over again.
The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho. I can’t remember what happened to my copy. Maybe I loaned it to a friend or donated it in one of my intense yearly bookshelf purges. Two weeks ago, I was browsing at a stoop sale (the urban version of a yard sale) and my eyes landed on this book. I was about to walk away (do I really need another book!?!) when the seller handed it to me and said, “No charge.” It feels like the universe wants me to read this one again.
A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. This was my introduction to Bill Bryson’s writing, and now I’m a Bryson completist. His curmudgeonly, wry tone always leaves me in good spirits. It’s been at least 15 years since I last read this one, and I still have the book on my shelf.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Because I refused to read Go Set a Watchman.
The Getaway Car, by Ann Patchett. This slim volume of writing encouragement is only available as a Kindle Single, but it’s worth downloading the app, if you don’t already have it. (And it’s a reasonably priced $2.51 at last check). Lately I’ve needed a writerly pick-me-up. The long, sometimes soul-crunching process can make me question moving forward with a story. To that, Ann Patchett says:
“Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.”
Do you reread books? Which ones?
Coming next time: an interview with Bethany Ball, author of What to Do About the Solomons!
BEFORE YOU GO
- This fall, I’ll be teaching my most popular class at The Loft Literary Center called Back to Basics: Creative Writing Techniques, starting September 20.
I’ll let you know when registration opens.
2. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be moving over to WordPress.org in the next month or two. The move requires all of you to resubscribe over at the new URL. So frustrating, but I don’t know a way to transfer subscriptions. (If you do, please let me know!) I want to keep you informed about the move and the new writing courses I’m developing. I’ve started a newsletter. I’d love it if you’d sign up. As a thank-you, I’m offering my short editing checklist. This is one of the checklists I use when editing fiction writing. Thanks so much for your support!
Have a great weekend, everyone!