On rereading

Kerry over at 49th Shelf looks at the comfort value of rereading beloved books — an endeavour I heartily support — with a listicle of titles you might consider going back to. I have mostly gotten to do this with kids’ books, because as the boys aged, I ended up reading each of them certain classics (the EB White trifecta of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Trumpet of the Swan; the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull; the Silverwing books by Ken Oppel; The Hobbit by Whatshisface McOxford; The Harry Potter books by noted TERF-supporter JK Rowling, etc.), but I seldom have the time or energy to reread anything but the more adult Tolkien works over and over (I have read the Silmarillion about 5 times, and the main trilogy probably 7 or 8 times) because it is my nerdly brain comfort food. That said, the times I have tried to reread beloved books from my past I have often been disappointed. Books I thought were mind-blowing as a teen turn out on reconsideration to be facile or poorly-written or even toxic in content — all considerations I was not worried about back then. Other times the book just leaves me cold, as though it were recommended by someone I had nothing in common with. So I am a little gun-shy about spending time rereading when there’s so much I haven’t read once. How’s this for a pessimist mantra: I’d rather be disappointed with something new than ruin the memory of something I enjoyed once-upon-a-time but won’t again. Now, poetry? That’s another matter entirely. I reread poetry books all the time. Sometimes because I didn’t get the first time through (Geoffrey Hill) and sometimes because the taste of the words in the mouth is like having a second cookie (Carl Phillips).

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