Lately, I have been thinking a lot about books.
I’ve been thinking about books for two reasons. First, because I’m slowly trying to get myself organized enough to write another book (and man, is it a scary thought!). And second, because of a conversation I recently had with a friend of mine.
One of my favourite authors – Diana Gabaldon – just published the eighth and latest novel in her Outlander series. I have been reading these books since I was a teenager, and I’ve been waiting with anticipation for this segment of the saga to hit bookstores.
My husband bought and gave me the book for my birthday, but instead of immediately cracking the cover and starting to read, I put it away carefully on a shelf.
When my friend asked why I was doing this, I casually explained that I was saving the book because I needed to go back and read the rest of the series again first. This surprised her, and she asked me if I often re-read books I’ve already finished.
That question surprised ME. Of course I do… Doesn’t everyone?
Before going further let me back up for a moment. I am a self-proclaimed literary connoisseur. I crave reading like I need oxygen, and I always have a book on the go. Whether it is a classic, a whodunit spy novel or the latest and hottest best seller, I’m interested.
With that being said, I’ve encountered so many books over the years that favourites have emerged. There are certain novels that touch me so deeply I need to read them again. And again. And again.
Today, I have a list of books that I pick up and re-read every calendar year. Certain books are read during specific seasons – like Wuthering Heights every Christmas – while other favourites I fit in whenever the mood strikes. Or, like in the case of the latest Diana Gabaldon novel, when a new book in a series is released.
After I explained my re-reading system to my friend (who I’m pretty sure thinks I’m a bit crazy now), we started talking about why the heck I even do this in the first place. And for me, it’s really quite simple. I take away something new from a book every time I read it.
I believe that people form opinions and make decisions throughout their lives based on what they know. And a person gradually learns more through life experience. So, what I think about a book like Wuthering Heights or Pride & Prejudice now might change in 10 years when I read it again. By that time, who knows what may have happened in my life to change my opinions on certain topics for better or worse – or both.
That’s the great thing about experiencing creative things like literature, film, art and music. They have meaning and can be perceived differently each time they are experienced. I may take away a completely different message than someone else after we both read the same book, but that’s the beautiful thing about the creative arts – they’re up for interpretation.