Reading and Rereading

I think I told y’all that my brothers aren’t big readers. In fact, I don’t think the Butcher had ever read a book before he moved in with me. But then he got a copy of The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test and he started into it. And one day, after a month or two, I noticed that his bookmark was earlier in the book than it had been. And then, one day, I caught him as he was coming to the end of the book. He got to the last page, finished, and then–and I am not even exaggerating–turned right to the first page and began reading again.

“What are you doing?!”

“Reading my book.”

“Yeah, but you finished it.”

“For like the fourth time.”

“You’ve read it four times in a loop?!”

“I’m still enjoying it.”

I have loved some books in my day, and I have known a lot of people who love books, but I have never ever other than my brother, met anyone who just kept reading and reading the same book as long as it remained pleasurable to him.

For years, I thought it was weird.

But what a crucial skill this is for writing a book! To be able to go over and over and over the same material and tease out all pleasure from it.

I don’t know. Lately it strikes me that I’m having to learn what was intuitive to him.

6 thoughts on “Reading and Rereading

  1. I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” every year. I’ve done this since I first read it when I was 16 – so this year will be 20 years I’ve been reading it.

  2. I’ve never finished a book and started to read it again immediately, but I do that with albums a lot. And I know bunches of other people who do. I’m not sure what the difference is, for me, especially because if I enjoy a book I often “hear” it as I’m reading.

  3. I do it mostly with books whose characters are so vivid I’m loathe to part with them.
    Tom Sawyer
    Girl of the limberlost
    Harry potter
    And now I’m on the third straight read thru of Martin’s ASOIAF.

    Of course I always have multiple books going so that I can match my reading to suit my mood.

  4. I can’t read books twice. I have tried, I just can’t.

    When I try, I find myself just skimming and skipping ahead. For better or worse (and sometimes it’s for better, others for worse) I tend towards goal oriented. I read a book, in large part, to finish it. Once it’s done, meh…

    Same with movies. I love to show OTHERS movies that I’ve enjoyed, but to sit down an re-watch one by myself; just can’t quite bring myself to do it. I might put on one as background noise while I’m doing housework or something, but you can’t really put a book in the background ;)

  5. I’ve been trying to ditch my book-buying habit this year by shopping in our own library, and I’ve rediscovered some wonderful books all over again (and again). We don’t keep anything we don’t intend to read again someday, but it’s fun to see the process working.

    I don’t think I’ve ever immediately reread a book, though. That is some good writin’ AND some devoted readin’, right there.

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