Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rereads

****I dedicate this post to my dear friend Kristen the Citrico Pusher.****


I don't dedicate it to Kristen because she's a Citrico Pusher, but I just thought I'd mention that she does seem to be rather a lush these days. Hehehe. In case anyone appreciates that in a friend from time to time. I know I do.

But no, I dedicate this post to Kristen because she's the one that kept saying "You don't REREAD!?" in tones of such anguish, shock, and pity (yes, and all this over IM - those emoticons are doing a fantastic job!) that I decided perhaps, truly, I was missing out on something after all.

You see, I'd admitted to her I didn't reread books. As a general rule. Actually, I admitted I usually didn't reread books. There are a few exceptions. I've reread The Color Purple by Alice Walker about three or four times. I've reread In the Land of Winter by Richard Grant almost every December for the last four years. As I child I reread all my A.A. Milne Pooh adventures so many times I could probably recite any section of it from memory.

There are probably less then a half dozen other books I've read twice. I mean, who has the time!? There are so many books out there I haven't had a chance to read the first time, why waste time rereading something I already managed to finish?

But then a couple things happened. My youngest son, who was homeschooled, loved literature but turned out to be a very late reader. Now, at 14, he can, I'm sure, outread most adults. But his late reading ended up to be a blessing in disguise because it meant that I read to him for many, many years. With my other kids, once we were past the picture book stage, I was mainly out of the loop. They all grabbed up their early readers and went off to some cubbyhole in the house to read by themselves. With William, we evolved past picture books, through early readers (which bored us both), and worked our way up through young adult and finally into many adult genres before he was confident enough to read independently. By the time he wanted to stop reading together, it had become such a regular pattern in our days that I was sad to see it end. Not only did I simply enjoy our time together but, along the way, getting back to my original point here, not only did I get to discover a lot of new books, I got to rediscover many, many old favorites. And I was quite surprised at a) how much I'd forgotten most of them and b) how different the stories were when read from a different age perspective.

The other thing that happened was that Kristen, Deb, Suzy and a few other friends, mainly bloggers and e-mail friends who are bibliophiles like myself, kept talking about this practice of reading beloved books a second, third time. Even a dozen times. I was becoming intrigued. And despite the screams and wails from all those other completely unread books on my shelves/tables/floor/desk - I picked up a book I'd already read, and reread it.

The title was Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I had only read it a few years ago, I was sure I would lose interest quickly since I obviously hadn't even had time to forget the plot yet. Not to mention spending those two years obsessively listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway musical of the same name. I was wrong. I had forgotten a lot of the details and a few major turn of events. I also discovered I had somehow missed several important themes that ran through the book. On first read I had only followed one theme, and not even a very interesting one. After finishing the book the first time, I was left with an ambiguous sort of love/hate relationship with it. I was intrigued by it, couldn't stop thinking about it, but I wasn't even sure if I liked it! After I finished rereading the book, I was blown away. I finally "got" it. I loved it.

So, I did it again. This time I assigned a book to William, something I had never done before. But I had a reason. The book was The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. A decade ago, our local conservative high school board refused to allow an English teacher use this title in an Honors English class for seniors. The fight over the book made the local paper. I was curious and decided to read the book myself and see what all the fuss was about. I feel so sorry for that English class for not being allowed to read Kingsolver because the book and the author immediately rocketed to my Top Ten Favorites list. So, when William became high school age this spring, I realized that as his teacher I could make The Bean Trees required reading. I did just because I could, still annoyed at that ban all these years later. (I've told you folks all this before, haven't I....)

I sweetened the pot by offering to read it to him. He declined. So I offered to read it along with him. He liked that idea. I'd read and leave a marker, he'd read up to the marker. The next day I'd read and move the marker, he would read up to the marker. Within a few days we needed two markers and we were fighting over the book. He loved it but again, back to my original point, I loved it. And discovered, again, I'd read the book through completely different eyes the second time around.

That's when I realized with equal parts excitement and dread (dread because that suddenly made my TBR (to-be-read) List miles longer in an instant, that all those already read books were actually still new books - I hadn't read them at this point in time, had I - waiting to be REREAD.

I think I've already mentioned, probably more then once, that what I'd really love to do with the rest of my summer is lay in my hammock under the big shady maples in our yard, drink cold drinks, and read from a never ending stack of books. I haven't bothered with the hammock, but I've done quite a bit of reading in the last week, mainly because it's been too hot to do anything else. What I've been reading, or rather REREADING, are the Harry Potter books. I've been saying I was going to reread them almost since the time I started them the first time. Now that I've finally gotten around to it, it's wonderful.

When I'm not reading lately, I'm compiling a quickly growing, mental list of books I want to reread, hopefully soon. The list is getting too long to actually read them all soon, but lists are fun to have even if one can't possibly manage everything on them.

Now, after an introduction far longer then I'd planned (but not a single one of you are surprised at, am I right?), here's a list of some books I'd like to reread this summer. I know I won't get to more then one or two of them, but they've all jumped in line, so what's a girl to do!

In no particular order:

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

His Dark Materials (a trilogy - The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis - I'd also like to read the rest of the Narnia series, which I have never read before.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Forests of the Heart by Charles DeLint

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (mainly to compare it to the movie)

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Of course along with that list, I have a bunch of not yet read books jostling for the next spot in line. Most vocally:

Nevada Barr's High Country, which is the second to last book in her Anna Pigeon series. Somehow I've fallen behind. I thought I had the book here but after tearing the bookshelves apart all last week, I finally gave up and bought it, perhaps rebought, yesterday.

Micah by Laurell Hamilton. She's also got another new one, Danse Macabre, which is still in hardcover. What's summer without at least one steamy vampire book, eh?

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason - don't know anything about it except a couple people were raving about it and I happened to find a used copy yesterday at the bookstore.

The Eighth by Katherine Neville (yes Kristen, I found it!)

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - picked it up in London and keep forgetting I have it even though the first chapters (which I read while standing in line for theatre tickets in Leicester Square - gawd, I love saying that!) were hard-to-put-down wonderful!

I also want to read the next in Ayelet Waldman's Mommy-Track Mystery series and Yasmine Calenorn's Chintz 'n China Mystery series - both series fast, fun and filled with likable characters.

Oh! And how could I forget! The next Sookie Stackhouse book from Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series. Oh, dear, this one might be second in line after High Country.

Whew. I guess that's enough for one sitting. As I've been typing, storm clouds have been rumbling dry lightning (not a good thing without rain!). The muggy air is getting decidedly hotter still. Sigh. And most unsettling of all, I can smell smoke again. The big fire I posted about a few days ago has been contained and the ridges and valleys that burned (over 1200 acres) looked like they'd even stopped smoking for the most part yesterday evening (it made them look cool and foggy - if only that was the case) although the helicopters were out there dumping water on them again this morning as soon as the sky was light enough for them. I'm hoping this smoke is simply a patch inside the bulldozer lines flaring up again. We do not need another fire. Knock on wood.

Okay, so what books are on your REREAD or TBR lists? Tell me in the comments section or post about it on your blog and let me know.

4 Comments:

Blogger kristen said...

i am delighted that you are rereading books. my sister (who shares the same taste in books as me) turned me on to His Dark Materials when i was living in petaluma. i loved them. and i'm thrilled that you found The Eight. i really hope you like it now that i've talked it up so much.

and thank you muchly for dedicating this post to me, the lush - giggle.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Lynx said...

If you liked "The Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett, you will be happy to know that he did pen a sequel (although in this day and age, I suppose I should say that he keyboarded it...). I just finished it last week, it is called "A Hat Full of Sky: The Further Adventures of Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men" and it is EXCELLENT (as always).
I am so glad that you have taken to the ReRead Road, only reading a book once (unless it is one that you didn't care for in the least) is like only talking to a friend once.
For years I would reread A Wrinkle in Time every spring, as a marker that winter was finally over. Just such an excellent book, even if I was only ten the first time I heard it and now am.... well past that age. Still speaks to me! But of course, I am a strong Bibliophile.....
Great to read this post, my daughter is checking out a book at this very moment that she said "I've read it before, but that was a long time ago, and I think you read things differently at a different age." I told her I just read a post on the very subject, so today is Serendipity everywhere!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Amyra said...

Okay, I posted my list on my new blog...

http://texasamyra.livejournal.com/

2:03 PM  
Blogger Deb R said...

I'm thrilled that you've caught the re-reading bug! :-)

8:23 PM  

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