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So, when I was trying to come up with a topic for this post, I ran up against a brick wall of writer’s block. Well, not writer’s block, exactly, since I didn’t have any problem writing things. More like topic block. I drew a complete and total blank, so like any true representative of my generation, I turned to the internets for help. One of my fellow Bombshells suggested that I write about rereading books.

My knee-jerk reaction is that I don’t have the time or inclination to reread books right now. Which is entirely true. But her suggestion did get me thinking about all the times I’ve reread books in the past. Sometimes, it’s been a wonderful experience; sometimes, it’s been the exact opposite.

For years, I read and reread and re-reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I had to read The Hobbit for school in sixth grade, and I fell in love with it. After my father saw me rereading it (possibly for the umpteenth time), he gave me his LotR trilogy from the 60s. They were in good shape when I got them, but now, the covers are tattered, slightly torn, and possibly waterlogged. (What? I like to read in the tub, and sometimes I drop a book.) I’m not quite sure where I fell off my habit of reading them every year or so, but I still have nothing but fond memories of those books, and they definitely still have a home on my shelf.

Anne BishopI’ve also enjoyed rereading a few fantasy series, especially the Black Jewels books by Anne Bishop and the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer. Yes, yes, I know. Judge away. Trust me, I judge myself, but sometimes, you just need fluff. And when I was finishing grad school, that fluff came in the form of sparkly vampires and heartsick werewolves. You try spending your one free day per week with your head shoved in Early Modern history books for 10 hours and see how much literature you can handle. Those books are comfortable and easy; there’s nothing wrong with that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have such good luck with the Chronicles of Narnia. I adored those books growing up. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was my absolute most favorite book for many, many years. When my junior high drama department put on the stage version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I played Lucy (though I really wanted to be the White Queen). But when I tried to go back and read the books as an adult, I felt like I was being smacked in the head with the allegory stick. It’s not that I didn’t know the allegory was there—believe me, my ultra-conservative Christian school probably wouldn’t have agreed to put it out, otherwise—but I guess I could gloss over it more easily or didn’t have enough reading experience to recognize just how blatant it was. This makes me kind of afraid to go back and read all of the fabulous Madeline L’Engle books that I loved as a kid because I probably loved them even more than the Narnia books. I don’t know if I could take Meg and Charles Wallace being diminished in my memories, even if the memories of them are getting a bit fuzzy.

I guess my conclusion is that rereading books is a pretty mixed bag. Sometimes, you get a mental break or that warm, fuzzy feeling from revisiting old favorites. Sometimes, you get beaten over the head with the allegory stick and have some of your most cherished memories ruined. And you never really know which you’ll get until you sit down and crack the pages open.

LacyLacy is occasionally witty, sometimes charming, and frequently clever. She’s a runner, cook, reader, wine drinker, and book reviewer. http://bookshelfbombshells.com/staff/lleblanc/

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2 Comments

  1. For years, I reread the Blood Opera Sequence by Tanith Lee and it got to the point where I felt like I had memorized the words or maybe it was just major deja vu. I still love those books and The Claidi Journals, same author. The Dune Series by Frank Herbert was also a reread but I typically stopped after Children of Dune because Leto was such a windbag in God Emperor. His speeches just dragged me down…and slowed my reading!

  2. I used to re-read books, a lot, especially in my teens and 20′s. I bet I’ve read The Hobbit and LOTR probably 5-6 times at least, among others.

    Then, one day it dawned on me that there’s just so many books I haven’t read yet that I want to read that there’s no way I’ll ever even make a decent dent in them if I kept re-reading old favorites. I made up my mind at that point to never re-read a book again, and I’ve pretty much stuck to it. There’s a couple I have re-read because I thought I missed something the first time around after reading a review or participating in a book group, but that’s about it.

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