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Read It Again, Sam

 As this year comes to an end, you may be looking back at those books you read; maybe you’ll consider reading them again?

In his essay for the New York Times Book Review – Read It Again, Sam –  David Bowman identifies famous authors who reread books – for inspiration, for motivation, to identify a structure to follow, to discover nuances, or just in awe of great writing…

“The biographer and novelist Edmund White {notes}: ‘I reread in order to remind myself how good you have to be in order to be any good at all.’ “

Stephen King regularly rereads The Lord of the Flies and The Lord of the Rings; Helen DeWitt (The Last Samurai) started her rereads with The Nancy Drew Series; Patti Smith, winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction rereads An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, reasoning that rereading is a necessity, echoing a familiar complaint of mine:

“…I get so absorbed that upon finishing I don’t remember anything…”

 I shy away from rereading most books, preferring to move on to the next adventure.  If I do reread a book, I may understand more or “build impressions.”  I may even remember more as I finish reading a second time, but I agree with French literary theorist Roland Barthes in The Pleasure of the Text:

“…{rereading may cause pleasure}, but not my bliss: bliss may come only with the absolutely new…”

Do you have books you regularly reread?

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2 thoughts on “Read It Again, Sam

  1. When I was a child I probably reread Alice in Wonderland once a year. I also regularly reread The Wizard of Oz. In recent years I have done a different kind of rereading, reading again books I first read 20 to 40 years ago (yes, I’m that old). It is a very revealing experience. Sometimes I find a book speaks to me now which did not then: The Iliad. Sometimes a book I once admired now seems flat and obvious: Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. Who we are and where we are really affects how we read and reread a book.

    • I agree; a book changes flavors with individual perspectives; time, place, and experience certainly affect how we receive a book.

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