Sunday Subway Readings: When should you re-read a book?


Eight years ago, I was taking a summer course downtown Toronto.  One day after class, I stopped at a local bookstore.  The Book Thief (Zusak, 2005) was a book that sat on every bookstore’s MUST READ table and I usually ignored it. It was a BIG book!  For whatever reason, I think it was rain that was keeping me from walking the twenty minutes to my apartment, I grabbed the book and sat down in one of the store’s comfortable seats. The Book Thief (Mark Zusak)It wasn’t until I arrived at page 100, that I realized I had fallen into the pages of a story that would grab my heart and soul.  I placed the book back on the table, went to the bank, and returned back to the store to purchase a copy of the book.  All work I had planned to do that weekend was pushed aside as I spent time with Death, the narrator, the book thief and all the people who lived and died in her world, a small town outside Munich, Germany.

I LOVED this book the first time I read it.  I could not stop.  It was unlike anything I had read before.   There were times when I was completely breathless.  My heart almost burst at the end.  I could not stop recommending the book.  I continue to recommend it to people who have never read it before.  Recently, I recommended it to one of my friends, who ended up recommending it to her book club (which I have since joined).  Who doesn’t love talking about what they’ve read?

I still appreciate the story but the magic of the first time is no longer in the second reading.  I knew where everything was going even though I couldn’t remember the minute details.  The writing is still beautiful.  And yes, I would still recommend The Book Thief.  Everyone else in the group read it for the first time and were completely engaged in the story.  However, I could not finish it.  I was looking for my memory of the first time and couldn’t find it.

This experience makes me re-think rereading books.  I used to be a voracious re-reader when I was a child but now I tend to read forward.  What does that mean?  I try to read new books (something I haven’t read before or I re-read because I have no memory of the book).  The Catcher inthe Rye (J.D. Salinger)Hence why I will re-read Catcher in the Rye (Salinger, 1951).  I read it over twenty years ago.  But mostly, I want to re-read because it was mentioned so many times in The Fourteenth Goldfish (Holm, 2014).  This re-reading is also based on a character who kept saying he didn’t like the book but in the re-reading discovered it was actually a good story.

Interestingly enough, my book club has chosen Code Name Verity (Wein, 2012) as the next book club read.  Another book I’ve read before.

Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)

What do I do?  Should I re-read or trust my memories?

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