I know the old saying about so many books and so little time.
Still, I read some of my favorites again from time to time. I justify spending all that time in territory where I’ve already traveled by following a strict rule when starting new books: if the author’s voice or the story’s flow doesn’t pull me in pretty quickly, I find something else to read.
Now, don’t go thinking I re-read books constantly. Whdunits just aren’t as much fun if you know who done it. And I’m not to the point yet where I can’t remember who done it.
But books that are crafted particularly well are fair game for another visit.
I’ve read Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast and Flannery O’Conner’s stories “Good Country People” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” no telling how many times. One summer I re-read Gore Vidal’s American Chronicle series of novels [Burr (1775-1840), Lincoln (1861-1865), 1876 (1875-1877), Empire (1898-1906), Hollywood (1917-1923), Washington, D.C. (1937-1952) and The Golden Age (1939-2000)]. And Daniel Silva’s brilliant Gabriel Allon spy novels, all sixteen of them lined up on my shelf, will get another visit if I live long enough.
If you’re a re-reader I have a suggestion. Think of a novel you read years ago that you really liked, one of the all-time best books that ever came your way. Read it again and see if it holds up.
I tried that with two books.
Earthly Powers, a novel by Anthony Burgess, blew me away years ago. And when I read it again it blew me away again.
I wasn’t as fortunate with the next one. I liked Inside, Outside, by Herman Wouk -whose The Winds of War, War and Remembrance are two of my favorite reads – but on second reading Inside, Outside didn’t work as well.
My friend Mary Beth Blankenship told me once that she’s re-read Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford so often that her husband Larry asks her every so often if it isn’t time to pull it out again.
Now, fess up. Do you re-read? Which books? Are there any that you’ve re-read more than once?