Re-read Any Good Books Lately?

October 2, 2014

Empowered by OTHERS plain spine poemI love to re-read books. Some books, such as Karen and With Love from Karen by Marie Killilea, I have read so many times that my copies have worn out, and I’ve had to replace them. You’ll note that the links I’ve given for these two books are to Amazon. I rarely link to Amazon any more, preferring to recommend independent booksellers, but the comments are fascinating to read for a person like me, as I felt I’d come to know the family through reading and re-reading the books. (The books are biographies of a girl growing up in the 1940s and 1950s dealing with cerebral palsy, written by her mother.)

The first time (of many) that I read Helene Hanff’s wonderful 84 Charing Cross Road and Duchess of Bloomsbury Street , I knew I had found a kindred spirit. She wrote, “My problem is that while other people are reading fifty books I’m reading one book fifty times. I only stop when at the bottom of page 20, say, I realize I can recite pages 21 and 22 from memory. Then I put the book away for a few years.” Yes. This link leads to a wonderful article about the books. I hope you’ll read it.

Did someone say “kindred spirit?” Yes, all the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery fall into the beloved re-reads category as well. So many books do.

I’m currently re-reading Julie Andrews’ autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years. So much of what she says resonates deeply with me, although our life experiences are very different. Her middle grade novels The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles and Mandy, along with one she wrote with her daughter, Emma, The Great American Mousical, generally live on my nightstand, because they are my go-to books that I like to have nearby.

Some people might think I am wasting time re-reading when I could be reading something new — after all, there are so many wonderful new books to discover. I assure you, I discover as many of the new ones as I can. But for me, not going back to dearly-loved or much-enjoyed already-read books would be like refusing to see a dear friend because he or she wasn’t someone new, for many of these books have become dear friends.

I have read scores of new-to-me books this year — andΒ  my list of those already shows a few re-reads. I read Cynthia Lord’s Half a Chance two or three times. I also re-read Jim McMullan’s Leaving China as soon as I had read it. (Come back here on October 17th for my post about that wonderful book.)

With each new book I open, there’s always the delicious possibility that this one will become one I will want to read again and again. Each new book holds the potential to become a friend, just as each new person I meet holds that potential.

What books have you read — or re-read — lately?

13 People reacted on this

  1. Wendy Maas’ middle grade novel “A Mango shaped Space” was a recent re-read. I read it once with my kids and now read it again for myself. A great reminder to soak up mentor texts, Beth.

    1. Thanks, Wendy! Good to characterize some of these as “mentor texts” as that’s certainly how I would see some of them, particularly Kate Messner’s series, as far as my writing goes, and Home and others as mentor texts for my life. (And thanks for the book recommendation.)

  2. Lovely blog post, Beth! I love the analogy you make in comparing re-reading books to seeing old friends. What a wonderful way to put it! I love to re-read books as I discover something new each and every time. I always find a gem of wisdom between the pages that I hadn’t noticed before.

    I greatly enjoyed “Home: A Memoir of My Early Years” by Julie Andrews. Like you, I found that so much of what she says resonates deeply for me although our lives could not be more different. It is a lovely read and a book I have returned to several times.

    I have been fortunate to be exposed to several wonderful author’s of children’s books through my work as a preschool teacher and private caregiver. One of my favorite authors is Chris Van Dusen. He writes in rhyme and it is my opinion that he does it well. I find his words to be rich and exciting. My personal favorites are “If I Built a Car” and “The Circus Ship.”

    1. Thanks, Kellie-Jeanne! It sounds as though we are kindred spirits in this re-reading thing. Thanks also for the tip to look for Chris Van Dusen’s books.

  3. I seldom re-read books. I just don’t have time. That said, there are children’s books I have found time to re-read including the Anne books and the Little House books. One of these days I’m going to stop writing reviews of new books and just re-visit some old friends. I have a long list of books I’d like to re-read.

    1. Oh, the Little House books! I have read each of them several times as well. (Oddly, I didn’t really get to know them until I was an adult.) Thanks, Rosi!

  4. I don’t often reread books as my reading time is so limited and I have a huge TBR stack of books. Like you, I do revisit Anne Shirley from time to time and I know all the Jane Austen books almost word for word. My books are definitely my friends. Recently I have had to get rid of many of my books and it was the hardest thing to give up my dearly beloved friends. I managed to find good homes for the special ones so I know I can visit them if I need to.

    1. I’m so glad you were able to find good homes for your special books — I certainly understand the wrenching feeling of having to give some books up. (I’m still kicking myself for giving away certain books when I was purging my shelves.) Thanks, Darlene!

  5. Thanks, Erik! I have no idea how you manage to read the huge number of books you read — no wonder you rarely have time to re-read! πŸ˜‰

  6. I have several favorites that I always keep in my book bag for school visits. It’s always fun to see that a book that I like sparks a light in a reader’s eye as well. Passing it on, as they say. Nice post Ms Stilborn!

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