Someone told me the other day that he has never reread a book. The idea jarred me. I serially reread my most favorite novels and find enjoyment in each experience. I love reading and experiencing new stories and discovering new authors. However, I find intense enjoyment in rediscovering a piece of work that I already love and can’t help but feel it is vital to revisit works.
I find that long series, such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, need revisiting in order to fully appreciate the scope of the text. The tiny clues and hints implanted early in the story that come to fruition towards the conclusions are amazing to rediscover. I find it invigorating and inspiring. (Like in Harry Potter, reread Chamber of Secrets and then reread The Half-Blood Prince: the connections between the two are thrilling!)
But I find works that stand alone are often the most wonderful to revisit. They exist in a tiny bubble. The story ends and the characters’ goals or transformations are accomplished in one book. So the connections from beginning to end are not hard to miss. My favorite in this regard is The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
I’ve read this novel at least four times and continue to be amazed by it. The characters are fleshed out to the point of seeming to pop off the page and the landscape is described with tangible detail. The scope of the storyline and content is almost hard to believe especially since the reader still can relate to it and not be overwhelmed.
Even so, all that can be experienced in one read. What brings me back to the novel is how it seems to move beneath my hands. It doesn’t continually change, I continually change and bring those fresh experiences with me into every reading. I imagine a pack of experiences strapped to my back as I ascend the treacherous mountain that is the novel. Each trip I pack better and better items that help me to interpret the words and plot with new perspective. But what is really amazing is finding a new path to the top every time.
I first read it in high school and was blown away by the sheer scope of the story. And the connections between the family members. With each subsequent read, I’ve related my relationships with my sisters more and more to the relationships in the story. I’ve also become more attached to the feminist undertones of the work and its comments on race relations. As I become more aware of the continuing hardships of minorities in the world, the novel speaks even louder to me.
Like every trip, it leaves impressions on me. I discover more and understand more than I had at the previous reading. Not only about the text but about myself as well. I believe that its vital the people reread because of this process of self discovery. Reading opens your mind and heart to other worlds and other people. Gives you new perspective; makes you think. Sounds like a bad song from the Reading Rainbow, but hell, you get to dive into someone else’s mind and come out changed.
But I must relate this to writing. Since naturally, my experiences with what I read directly correlates to my writing.
I think its important to realize that a novel (and a poem) is alive. That when you write it doesn’t just sit on the paper but enters another person. And, so, is shaped by their own perspectives and experiences. I realized that I shouldn’t worry so much about trying to create an amazing piece of work but should focus on being honest and real. If I create scenarios and characters that are honest in how they are then I’ll have created something long lasting or maybe, if I dare to say it, rereadable.