Samurai

Whitney Houston’s line in The Bodyguard – “two Samurai” – gave two former secret service agents the image of protective warriors.  Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai brought Helen deWitt’s saga to life, and one of my favorite reads is James Clavell’s Shogun.

Aside from the glamour and the drama, the samurai have a real place in Japanese history, and Caroline Leavitt neatly identifies their background, codes, and weapons in her factual children’s book Samurai.  The educational book offers accurate information, illustrations, and photographs – as well as an index and websites for further exploration – a good way to discover who the real warriors were.

Read a Review of Another Caroline Leavitt book:   Pictures of You

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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?