Friday, August 19, 2016

Why would I read a book twice? For a lot of good reasons.

I'm definitely a reader. I'm that person who has a book (sometimes two) everywhere I go. I read in every spare second that I have, not just in the waiting room at the doctor's office. I can't help it. Some books are so good that it's worth ignoring the real world for a little while. (Well, maybe a long while.) In fact, there are some books so good that I've read them twice. There are a variety of reasons to read the same book more than once, but none so powerful as for sheer enjoyment. It's like watching your favorite movie more than once, or watching those comfortable Friends or Seinfeld repeats that are always on TV.

But there are other reasons too. Some books are so masterfully written that I just want to appreciate them again, reading over my favorite parts with a new kind of awareness. I enjoy the words in a completely different way when I already know the outcome of the story. (Imagine that.) Some books are worth reading again because they have lessons worth understanding, and sometimes understanding means re-reading and re-evaluating what you thought about parts of the book and why you felt that way. And sometimes you re-read a book not even because of what the book was about or because you love the characters (maybe even miss them), but because it evokes a sense of nostalgia in you that you feel compelled to recreate. I liken this to how I sometimes listen to a certain song or album, not because the song is necessarily any good, but because there's a memory or a part of my life when I heard that song a lot, and maybe I miss those people or that feeling or that moment.

I wonder what books other people have read twice, and for what reason. I've listed some of the books I've read twice below. Feel free to leave a comment about any books you've read twice! I'd love to hear about it.

--The Martian: I read this book twice in a row. Literally, when I read the last page, I went back to the beginning, and I read it again. I love Mark Wattney. I wish he was a real person. He is brutally honest, he is hilarious, he is intelligent, he is a survivor, and he converts all of his math and scientific equations into pirate ninjas to make the sciencey stuff a little more understandable to people of average intelligence. And speaking of the sciencey stuff? It's based in the real world and on actual science theories about traveling in space and living on Mars. This book is a perfect marriage of hilarity, levity, and awesome science. I've recommended this book to every person I know. Even if you've seen the movie, read the book. The movie does a great job of hitting Wattney's tone and demeanor, but there are so many moments that didn't make the movie that you're going to want to read about if you love his character. When I finished the book, I missed having Wattney's sardonic accounts of his daily, deadly life. I wasn't ready for his character's story to end, so I read it again.

--The Amityville Horror: Simple: it scared the hell of of me when I was a kid. I like having the hell scared out of me. Why? My mother asks me the same question every time I go see a scary movie. I don't have an answer for either of you. (By the way, it doesn't matter if any or all of this story is true. Read it like fiction if you really want to enjoy it.)

A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Obviously these two titles don't have much to do with each other. One's a fairy tale (sort of) and the other is science fiction. However, what these two books have in common for me is that I read each them when I was a kid and found them really hard to understand. When I first read them, I just skipped over the hard parts (physics for AWiT, and advanced vocabulary for TLWatW), and although I liked the characters and sort of liked the books, I didn't actually understand what happened or what they were about. So in college I set out not just to re-read them, but to understand them. And I'm glad that I did, because I ended up greatly enjoying both of them, and since each was a series, I added several more awesome books to my library.

The House Across the Cove: The first time  read this book, I read it in under a day (and not because it's short). It's because the story totally enthralled me in a way that I don't think any other book has, and I couldn't put the book down until I knew what happened. The story alternates between a girl and a boy, she from the right side of the tracks and he from the wrong, who meet over a summer at the lake. They are brought together by the strange happenings at the titular house on the other side of the lake, despite their best attempts to hate each other. Their curiosity not only leads them into each other's arms, but also puts them smack in the middle of a dangerous mystery. What's not to like? Romance. Mystery. Danger. Suspense. It has a little bit of everything.

Deadenders: I re-read this book like I re-watch movies. I quoted along as I read, and re-read some passages a few times before moving on. It's not just that the story is masterfully crafted; the writing is beautiful too. I have several highlighted parts that I like to re-read sometimes, just because. Kind of a bummer: re-reading this one reminded me that there are a lot of editing and grammatical errors that I'd forgotten about, but I'm willing to look past that.

The book I really want to read twice, but I don't know if I can: Life As We Knew It. I would place this on my top ten list of favorite books of all time. Explaining why is difficult, because the story itself is not especially exciting (and no, that doesn't mean it's boring). What I mean is that this is the kind of book where it's less about what happens (first this, then this, the end) and more about how the characters interact with each other because of what's happened. Pfeffer does a brilliant job of painting a picture of how a family would react to the world falling apart (without zombies), and how a family breaks apart and reforms as a totally different, and not necessarily better, version of itself. The family struggles with exactly what you would expect them to. That doesn't make the story boring. It makes the story relateable. It makes the story real. And that's what Pfeffer has done; she's created something so real that I don't know if I can face the heartbreak and desperation again. It's almost like watching my own family break apart under the stress of a hostile world. I don't know that I want to think about that all over again. But Pfeffer has done such a masterful job of making her story real, that I might not be able to resist.

--Other books I'm thinking about re-reading: Blindness, The Three, and It.

How about you? What books have you read more than once, or would like to read again?

1 comment:

  1. Definitely going to check these out!