I've made several promises to myself about things I'll do better in the new year, but one of the more unusual commitments I've made is: I will try to reread one book a week in 2015.
I realized I wanted to try this after I made my 50 Works of Art That Have Shaped Me list this summer:
50 Works, PT 1
50 Works, PT 2
50 Works, PT 3
50 Works, PT 4
50 Works, PT 5
Revisiting these works, just briefly so I could summarize them, felt good. I could re-read the poems on this list easily enough, but when I remembered novels I'd loved, I felt drawn to them all over again. But I couldn't stop to reread them cover to cover--not when there are so many books I'd never given chance!
This challenge makes me a little uneasy. To put it bluntly, I'm afraid I'll get bored.
I am used to reading at least one new book every week. I take in a lot of new information all the time, and books are the least of it. I have a dumb phone, kinda, but I also use the Internet all day long. I love blog posts and podcasts and newfseeds and RTs, as I am sure all the kids say these days. (Ping me later, cool cats! Ahhhh I don't know what I am talking about!)
I want new, current information. Constantly.
The problem is, I have been noticing that I forget some of what I have read. Well, first go the finer details--exactly what was a character wearing? Or what was the direct quote? Minor stuff, right? ...Then timelines for stories get blurry, and then, oh my God, I don't even remember what happened in the end!
I do want news stories as they unfold, and I don't want to reread trend pieces in the Altantic from five years ago or whatever.
But novels are forever. (Poetry too. AND COMICS.) I don't want breaking news from fiction--I was gorgeous language and breathing characters and some insight into this messy humanity. I want to remember every line that made me fall in love. I want to keep it fresh and not forget.
And so. The first book I am (re)reading this year is Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, perhaps my all-time favorite book. It's been more than three years since I read it, and while I loved every moment I spent with it then, I cannot believe how much I'd forgotten!
Now I can take my time. Because I've read this through once, I'm not distracted by the suspense of What's going to happen next? How will this end?!
I can savor the language, and read more as a writer. I can ask, How does this book work? What was the author intending, laying out for me?
Like this passage, from Chapter 1, which I'd forgotten. It's the blueprint for the whole novel--it's the message in a nutshell! Here is our narrator, Eva Luna, describing the childhood her mother gave her:
She manufactured the substance of her own dreams, and from those materials constructed a world for me. Words are free, she used to say, and she appropriated them; they were all hers. She sowed in my mind the idea that reality is not only what we see on the surface; it has a magical dimension as well and, if we so desire, it is legitimate to enhance it and color it to make our journey through life less terrifying.
Rereading feels good. It feels like coming home, like returning.