Seventeen writers revisit books they love
by Anne Fadiman
This year I’ve decided to make rereading a priority and so this essay collection was a perfect read to pick up. Just like any essay or short story collection, there are both strong and weak pieces. The book itself isn’t amazing, but the sentiment it shares is an important one. It’s another great reminder that I need to make time to reread books I love.
I wish there had been a few more essays that referenced books I know. I could identify with the piece on Pride and Prejudice and Brideshead Revisited, but not as much with a field guide one woman had grown to love. The sentiment is the same regardless of the book though. Sometimes you return to a beloved book and realize the story now seems childish or more problematic than you remember. Other times it makes you fall in love with the story all over again. No matter what happens, it deepens your relationship with the book.
“One of the strongest motivations for rereading is purely selfish: it helps you remember what you used to be like. Open an old paperback, spangled with marginalia in a handwriting you outgrew long ago, and memories will jump out with as much vigor as if you’d opened your old diary.”
“And there lay the essential differences between reading and rereading. The former had more velocity; the latter had more depth. The former shut out the world in order to focus on the story; the latter dragged in the world in order to assess the story. The former was more fun; the latter was more cynical. But what was remarkable about the latter was that it contained the former.
I’m planning on rereading at least one book each month this year. I wish I’d decided to do this early so I could have reread one in January, but oh well. Here are a few I’m hoping to get to this year.
The Hobbit – February
The Hunger Games – March
The Shadow of the Wind – April
Sense and Sensibility – May
Fahrenheit 451 – July
Catching Fire – August
Ender’s Game and Ender's Shadow – September