I had an interesting conversation the other day about re-reading books. The person I was chatting with said they didn’t like going back to old books because their to-read list was full to bursting. I understand completely. I keep a list of every book I buy (yes, I’m THAT guy) and easily have 200 books that I own but not yet read. Somehow, as much as I cross off, the list grows faster than it shrinks…
And yet I love re-reading favourites. I’m about to begin my annual revisit of the Jane Austen cannon (her 6 better known novels, although I do own all the others) and am really looking forward to it. Each time I start, I always learn more about the characters, or understand a different level of the story. It depends on my personal situations, where I’m reading, what level of insanity I’ve reached – new perceptions that offer new insight. The stories don’t change, but as I do I pull different ideas out of them.
It’s exactly like catching up with a best friend you haven’t seen in awhile. At first there’s the comfortable sense of familiarity, where you know what to expect and figure there won’t be too many surprises, but three hours (and coffees) into the conversation, you pick up on a new habit they’ve developped or certain nuances you’d never noticed before. When you’re in a bad mood, they’re there to cheer you up (because it’s your favourite book for a reason. The cute guy, the great ending, the cathartic weeping?), they never let you down and they never disappoint you.
Are you a re-reader? What’s your go-to book for revisiting a story?