“Don’t worry! We’re going to buy a giant package of disposable plates, and throw them out after every meal. We don’t need to be doing dishes on top of packing and moving!”
This recent conversation came to mind when I started thinking about the topic of re-reading books. Books can be a lot like dishes, when you think about it. Some of them are as valuable as fine china. Others can be compared to disposable picnic ware: handy, even desirable, in a certain context, for a limited time. But not something you can wash, and dry, and use over and over again.
The Books You Read Again
The best books are worth re-reading. In fact, they are usually books which improve on the second perusal. A really great book (and a really good one, too, for that matter), will stand a lot of wear.
I recently re-read a series which I loved as a child, and probably read a dozen or more times when I was younger. I hadn’t looked at it for a while, though, and I had rather the same curiosity one feels in revisiting an old neighbourhood after having been away for many years. Only of course here it was I, and not the neighbourhood, who might have changed.
But after all, the books stood the test. Yes, the little details of the lives of six- and seven-year-old heroines did not have quite the all-absorbing importance they had held when I was the same age as they were. But I realized that all the hidden ability of the author was visible in a way I had never noticed before. The skillful composition of a really great book for young children is some of the most challenging and praiseworthy writing you will ever come across. It is far easier to write impressively with words of four or five syllables, than to come directly to your meaning with simple words for children. And this author had done it!
Good and Great Books Are Timeless!
It was so delightful to come back to the books I had loved unreasoningly when I was first forming my standards for literature, and to find that I could still respect them—nay, that I respected them more after having had experience of a much wider field.
And you will find that many, many of the really good and great books are like this. They are masterpieces, and the fact that they efface their own glory is a double credit to their merit. We do not notice how well written they are because they are so well written. They are like the painting which we do not think about, because we are absorbed in studying its subject. But every line, and tint, and shadow would hold true if we examined it under a magnifying glass.
So, if you are having trouble finding new books to read, don’t give up on your search. But why not, in the meantime, pull out some of those dog-eared old volumes of your childhood, with the covers loved off them, and the pages worn by eager hands? They were your favorites back then. Why shouldn’t they turn out to be your favorites right now?
We would all enjoy hearing about your success in the art of re-reading. What are the titles of your childhood favorites? Why did you love them when you were young? Why do you continue to love them now?
Don’t forget that re-reading isn’t just for adults! At Sheep Among Wolves Publishing we feel strongly that parents should be familiar with the books their children read. This involvement in your children’s lives can take a significant commitment of time and energy. Don’t forget that good and great books are meant to be re-read! Your hungry bookworms can come back for seconds . . . and thirds . . . and fourths, if the books they read are good and great.
For a further discussion of the roles of parents and books, see our previous post:
- Good Books From Open Library
- Good Books From Book Review Sites