It’s no surprise to anyone who has known me for longer than an hour (maybe less) that I love to read. Most of my evenings, in the two hours of time between when Rachel heads to bed and when I do, are spent reading. It’s not unusual for me to read over 100 books in any given year.
One book that I finished recently is Maryanne Wolf’s Reader, Come Home. In it, Wolf writes about what reading does for the brain and the important part reading plays in the development of empathy, attention, and critical thinking skills. At one point in the book, Wolf gives herself a sort of informal test by re-reading one of her favorite novels in order to see whether her enjoyment and comprehension have been impacted by years of interaction with digital media. What she found was that the initial re-reading was slow going, working brain muscle that hadn’t been used in awhile, but that the end result was incredibly rewarding.
I have often found re-reading to be a rewarding experience, though occasionally I find that a book I had remembered fondly turns out to have aged poorly. Earlier this year, I re-read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, a book that I have spent several decades referring to as one of my favorite childhood reads, though I hadn’t actually re-read the book since childhood. I was surprised, then, and a bit disconcerted, to discover that this childhood classic is one I can no longer list among my favorites.
Reading (or re-reading) these two books has made me curious about what I might discover upon re-reading other favorites. And so, I am beginning a project that I’m rather unoriginally referring to as The Great Re-Read. Over the next year, I will be slowly working my way through books that I count among my favorites, including some that I revisit every year (The Lord of the Rings; Lonesome Dove) and others that I haven’t read in a decade or more (Les Miserables; A Tale of Two Cities). Each post will reflect on the book itself, as well as those thoughts and feelings I associate with a specific book compared to my thoughts and feelings after revisiting said book.
I don’t have much of an agenda for this project other than revisiting these books and reflecting on the experience, though I do hope to discover themes that draw me to certain stories over others or to discover something new/rediscover something old about myself in coming back to these favorites again.
I am currently in the middle of my annual revisiting of Lonesome Dove, as well as re-reading Frank Herbert’s Dune for a book club and The Children of Men by P.D. James just for fun. As I finish these books, those posts will be the beginning of The Great Re-Read. Should I finish them before 2018 ends, we’ll just get started a little early (or chalk it up to years of following the church calendar).
I hope you enjoy this project as much as I hope to enjoy it myself. Should you live in Abilene and want to jump in on certain books, I’m always up for hosting a book club to discuss any and all of the books that I read or simply meeting up for a conversation over coffee.