I was listening to an essay by Tor's Jo Walton from her collection What Makes This Book So Great. she writes about why she re-reads certain books and it got me thinking about the same thing. Problem is, I don't really like to re-read books. I get it the first time and move on. Most of the time.
For example. Did the obligatory re-reading of Lord of the Rings when the movie was about to come out. It went ok. Liked some of the parts that didn't end up in the movie. Was not disappointed by the Treebeards, of course. Or the first appearance of Viggo-- I mean, Strider. Passed on The Hobbit, though. I'm past my High Fantasy reading skills. Read it for the first time when it came out and I don't think it will ever have the same feel for me again. Well, except for the barrel escape scene. I can do that again. Maybe.
And that is it, the reason I revisit old stories. There are moments in them that I remember and want to meet with again. Rarely is it the writing. Or the whole of the story. And again, there are exceptions. Asimov's cyborg detective remains an inspiration for how to blend genres and still manage to say something important. Rowling is also someone I can listen to again (re-reading for those of us who prefer the audio versions). It was several listenings before I stopped getting teary at Neville's meager ten points for Gryffyndor in the first book. Or my cheering when the Weasley twins decide they have had enough school. No, wait. When McGonagall tells Peeves it goes the other way.
I also recently went back into Zelazny's world of Amber and its Nine Princes. I was a little disappointed. Why? Because it's a period piece. It is more obviously written by a man than Asimov's books are, for example.
I am more likely to reread revisions. What? How many ways have we seen Red Riding Hood? I can read more of those. Or Sleeping Beauty? Re-telling is the better term. Revealing elements of the world of he original story or connecting the past with the present in a new way. That is what excites me. Bringing the world into a different perspective. Rowling does that. Zelazny did that. Asimov does that. Even Tolkein did that.
So, what brings you back to old favorites? How do you know your heart will still skip a beat when the story gets to THAT particular part? Which covers show how comfortable you have become in your relationship?
I hardly ever re-read anything. I just don't have the time. I always have a stack of books I have not yet read. I have made the statement, however, if someone gave me a couple of absolutely free reading days under the proviso that I re-read something, I would choose Cold Mountain. It was such a powerful story and the writing is gorgeous. I have also re-read a couple of Barbara Kingsolver books. She is awesome. As you might have guessed, I'm not a fantasy gal.
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