Thursday, September 29, 2005

Re rereads

Survey: how many times have you read War and Peace? Ummm, none.

Forget War and Peace. People are sharing their guilty pleasure books at Culture Vulture — the embarassing books they turn to time and again.

I don't often reread books. (Fairy tales don't count.) Too many books, not enough time.

However, I do find myself rereading children's books. They're so short! — the pay-off in comfort is worth every minute.
A Little Princess — Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Gammage Cup — Carol Kendall
The Chronicles of Narnia — C.S. Lewis
The Little Prince — Antoine de St-Exupery

There's the books I read as a teenager that I later reread critically in university, and perhaps again to satisfy a curiosity or discuss with friends. In this category, 1984, among others.

Other books I dip into (I couldn't begin to list these) to retrieve favourite bits, to flesh out current ideas that somehow make that text relevant (the narrative of life), as a kind of research, or as a refresher to a sequel. But cover to cover, rarely.

I don't really want to reread books (so little time), though sometimes I feel I owe it to my more mature self to better understand some so-called classics.

Yet, for the sheer, if inexplicable, fascination I have with them, I have reread some books countless times:
The Fifth Child — Doris Lessing
The First Century after Beatrice — Amin Maalouf
The Razor's Edge — W. Somerset Maugham
Titus Groan (but not the rest of the Gormenghast trilogy) — Mervyn Peake

Short story:
The Nine Billion Names of God — Arthur C. Clarke

But I don't feel any shame about these.

The only book I've reread (certainly 4 times, if not more), and of which I've owned several copies, having to replace the ones I gave to friends, and that I might not openly confess to: Shibumi, by Trevanian.

Oh! and Michael Moorcock's The Warhound and the World's Pain. I love that book!


Anonymous said...

I've read War and Peace two and a half times. The half was actually the first time through -- I discovered pretty quickly that the chapters were either about war or peace, never both, so I skipped all the war chapters, got to the end, and realized I had missed the whole point. Reread it for pennance, then once more for fun. It's a magnificent piece of work, if you ever find yourself in the mood for something enormous (have you finished Don Q, speaking of which? ;)

The book I've read the most number of times is Pride and Prejudice. I lost count of how many, but I know I've read it at least three times aloud to other people.

I hardly reread anymore. No time. I have recently been returning to some childhood favorites as well, but I tell myself it's story-structure research for the YA novel...

Isabella K said...

Sheesh! I've confessed to 2 embarrassments, people (count 'em — 1, 2; that's 2!)! And what do I get in return! Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion!/! Oh, the shame! How can you show your faces around here?!

(And no, I haven't finished DQ yet. I think I'm going to go reread The Warhound and the World's Pain now.)

I swear, this may be the last time I tell you anything! (Ya, right — you wish...)

Anonymous said...

OK, I thought about it and rambled about it, made myself a cup of tea, tucked Devyn into bed and then, it occurred to me: there is one book!

It follows your comment.

It's pretty long, so I'll just direct you:

Suzanne said...

Okay, you want embarrassing? I've read "Sybil" about 10 times! Nothing like a good ol' multiple personality disorder tale to warm the soul.

Anonymous said...

Amin Maalouf Website -
Biography, books, audio and video interviews, maps, ...
Have a nice visit !