Monday, May 7, 2018

Rereading Books

I don't know if everyone was like this, but when I was younger I reread books a lot. True that when you're in school, you have access to the school's library that (for every non-fictional person I've come across) ends up being an endless supply of reading material all at your fingertips. But I also owned less books and read books at home for, well, a great percentage of my free time. It was like I jumped from picture books straight to Little House on the Prairie (on reflection, it seems that I simply didn't acquire new books in that stage when you're transitioning out of picture books into chapter books). So, in a sense, those were the only books that I owned for a bit.

That meant that I read them again and again. I also got Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and Black Beauty around that same age of about ten to eleven years old--and I read those first two again and again, too. In middle school? It was The Chronicles of Narnia. Somewhere in the middle school to high school transition, it was The Lord of the Rings. Jane Eyre also turned into my steady companion, a book that I need to read every few years just because I've let it become so much a part of me.

Books that I've read more recently, though? (And by recently, I mean in the past probably ten years.) I don't read through them a second time, even if I've enjoyed them. (Okay, I just did reread Veronica Roth's Carve the Mark to prepare for the sequel [which I strangely am having a hard time getting into despite how much I enjoyed the first book], but that was unusual. And I'm not counting books that I read for a second time during college, like Beowulf or Ceremony.) Why not? I guess the more you read, the more aware you are of books that you have not read. So it starts to feel like you can't waste time in rereading something when there are so many things you need to read for the first time.

But still, that's different.

I can sit back and read passages of Twilight or any of Narnia in my head even though it's probably been years since I opened up the pages of either of them. I can repeat exact sentences and lines of dialogue and remember descriptions. And I think, is it because I remembered things better when I was younger? I mean, maybe that's part of it, but not all--I remember the old books so well because I read them again and again. That puts things into a different fabric in your mind. So much of what we read now is only temporary; we filter it in and out and make no effort to memorize it because we know we can look it all up again with the click of a button. But I miss being able to recall everything about an author's style simply because I could call to mind the very sentences and paragraphs they formed.

There are so many of the old books that I'm craving to read again. It's like they're old friends that I've abandoned in favor of fleeting flings. Jane and Frodo and Shasta, I miss you all. And yet--if, because of the rereading I did years ago, I can picture in my head passages from your stories, is that really so different from picking up the old pages again?

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