As a child, I thought rereading books was a H*U*G*E waste of time. I devoured books, especially Enid Blytons, and later, Roald Dahls. I read the odd Richmal Crompton, went on to the classics – loved Five Children and It, pushed myself through others, left still others incomplete.
But one thing I rarely did was reread. I did not have the time. Too many books, too little time, I kept telling myself.
Then, at some stage, I realised that reading was not really a race. It was okay if I did not read every single good book in the world. At times, the comfort of a well-loved book was preferable to a foray into unknown territory, so I reread my Malory Towers and my Roald Dahls. I was growing older, so I read and reread Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart and Dick Francis and Madeleine Brent. And eventually, I made my peace with “wasting” time rereading books I loved.
Now, rereading a book is a new experience. Recently, I reread four books because I was too lazy to go to the library and get more books for myself. I reread The Goldsmith’s Daughter by Tanya Landman, The Moneylender’s Daughter by V.A. Richardson, Dragonfly by Julia Golding and Chocolat by Joanne Harris.
The Goldsmith’s Daughter was everything I expected it to be. I loved it as much as I did the first time. It held me, made me cry, moved me, and made me search for more books by Tanya Landman.
The Moneylender’s Daughter puzzled me. I could not read it–and that’s what makes me realise, yet again, just how subjective reading – and therefore publishing – is. I reread my review of the book and was struck by how much I enjoyed it the first time. I was gripped by it, the world came alive. But this time …? I skipped larger and larger sections, and then I left the book incomplete.
Dragonfly was exactly the opposite. The first time I read it, sure, I enjoyed it, but it was not something that kept me hooked. This time, I read, cried, and felt my heart melt. It touched me.
And that’s what really made me write this post. When we read and review books, so much depends on our moods. Perhaps that’s why I never put up negative reviews. If I don’t like a book, I don’t write about it. Rereading is such a joy. The comfort, the anticipation, the encounter with characters we know intimately. And yet, for me, it is not without a sense of guilt. Why am I not reading something new? And the whole conversation about rereading begins in my head all over again.