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