Thursday, April 9, 2009

Do this at your own peril

I'm developing a theory about re-reading books you REALLY loved at a certain time in your life. I can condense it into one word. DON'T.

Okay. Maybe that's a little too dogmatic. But I have to say that whenever I re-read a book that I really, really connected with a long time ago, I'm invariably disappointed with it now, not counting THE SCARLET LETTER. Except I actually didn't like it the first time I read it (when I was seventeen). I had to grow up (and acquire better reading skills) to appreciate that one. So never mind.

I just re-read WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor, which I read for the first and only time when I was back in grad school with Lisa B. I was CRAZY for Flanners then. CRAZY. All I can say is . . . I wish I hadn't re-read WISE BLOOD. On the other hand, O'C's letters are truly delightful. And "Revelation" remains one of my favorite short stories in the history of the universe. If you ever take a literature class from me one day, I. Will. Make. You. Read. It. And I will force you to be happy that you did.

I'd be interested in hearing about a book you loved and why. Give me the title and your age (then, not now--unless you want to tell me how old you are today) and I will tell you not to re-read it, although I'll leave that up to you.

In other news. I've been crying all day. And the only reason I can give is that it's raining. So right now I want to personally thank all my English, Scottish and Welsh ancestors for getting their rears on a ship and making a big fat beeline for the New World, so I didn't have to grow up in this weather.

Perhaps a cupcake will help.


Kerry said...

cupcakes ALWAYS help.

Ashley Harward said...

Cupcakes ALWAYS help.

As for my favorites-

To Kill A Mockingbird, 11 yrs old, spoke in a southern accent for two days afterward.

Pride & Prejudice, 17 yrs old.

My Name is Asher Lev, 17 yrs old.

The Fountainhead, 18 yrs old.

East of Eden, 18 yrs old.

There's more, but those are my classics.

And don't stop writing. But don't write for being published. In fact, don't even force yourself to write everyday. Write if you want to, whenever you want to, whatever you want to. Fall back in love with writing. You have a talent so don't just let it go. In fact, write a story about a cupcake. Now, there's inspiration!

That's my advice, for what it's worth. :)

shelley said...

I don't re-read books. There are only a handful of exceptions (Secret Garden, Mara, Daughter of the Nile, and Harry Potter are the only three that come to mind.)
I'm not sure why - but I think it's because good books so often become entangled in a period of life, and re-reading them is like revisiting something old and passed, and has lost its original flavor...
I was always embarrassed of this fact when I worked at TKE.

Louise Plummer said...

I've read Pride and Prejudice several times and I always enjoy it. I read David Copperfield three times. But there are so many classics I haven't read yet that I feel I must still get to, most of them are Russian. And i've never read Don Quixote. I read the first book of Proust's and I don't think I'm going to tax myself any further with him.

I hadn't considered that I could still be living in the Netherlands, morose and melancholic. I wish I COULD cry. I just hide under a blanket. The sun will come out tomorrow. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

I read Gone with the Wind at least five times before I was twenty. But never since - and I don't think I ever will. My life now has enough drama of its own. I would never be able to leave Scarlet out in the turnip field. In my middle aged state, I just want a good, satisfying ending.

Lisa B. said...

I think Jane Austen may be an exception to the re-reading rule, which by and large I stand by, except for books I re-read frequently, which also stand up to re-reading, because, well, because (Underworld, Harriet the Spy, . . . there are others.).

However: I did re-read The Unbearable Lightness of Being and thought it was puerile, almost--whereas when I first read it it was the most moving thing ever written, practically. So there you have it. Further confession: I feel that the film version of this book is a greater work of art than the book itself.

Sara Z. said...

I read Wise Blood a couple of years ago and didn't understand a single word of it. Love FO's short stories and letters, though, too.

I hardly ever re-read books! Or see movies twice. It's a sickness.

candace said...

The Great Gatsby--17. Fell in love with the book, read it three times in one year (I think I was pretending that I was somebody's Daisy, and my Gatsby would one day throw parties for me--how ridiculous). Haven't read it since...but I feel like I "don't need it anymore." Whatever that means. I do like to pick it up and read my notes and the passages I highlighted.

p.s. I think crying is a perfectly fine thing to do today. But I'm telling you, if you want to smile, My Dough Girl beats out cupcakes any day!

Carolyn V. said...

I agree, cupcakes always help. And a hot cup of Chocolate.

I fell in love with Caddie Woodland. I was about...ten maybe? I'm over three times that now. *tear in corner of eye*

As a teen, I hated most books. It's true. I read Lord of the Flies in school, and it damaged me for many, many years. So sad.

K. Marie Criddle said...

Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce! Hands down, the book that shaped my childhood. I re-read it yearly.
Oh, and if you come out to Boston, there's a store called "Kick-A" (expand upon the A at your leisure) cupcakes and they TRULY live up to the name.

Emma said...

I probably did a book report every year in high school on The Color of Water, it was my absolute favorite book then and I enjoyed re-reading it.

I just finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and I know for a fact I won't be reading it again, it was good, but not that good.

I listened to Sea Biscuit on a road trip when I was 18 maybe 19, and liked it a lot. Re-read?

I went through a Robert Ludlum phase at age 19 and read all the Bourne books, but I'm pretty sure I won't read those again.