Sunday, December 4, 2011
Flipping through the New York Times Sunday "Book Review" this afternoon--an exercise in procrastination, I'll admit--I came across a piece by David Bowman, "Read It Again, Sam." He is discussing the rereading habits, particularly of famous authors. Coincidentally, I'd had a conversation after class with a couple of students. One said she never reread a book because she knew that meant that she might be reading something new at the time; her friend admitted that she had some favorite to which she returned again and again.
I understand both camps. I fall into both from time to time. As an English teacher, of course I read some works again and again as I teach them. I've never felt I was fair to rely on my memory from a year or more ago when I asked my students to come to class fresh from reading a text. My own reading at their scheduled pace also helps me understand the reading load I've assigned. As a result, I've read Macbeth and many other Shakespearean plans more times than I can count. To that, add To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, The Once and Future King, Cold Mountain, and even Paradise Lost--well, you get the point.
This self-discipline also leads me to change up my syllabus regularly to keep from tiring of books, short stories, plays, and poetry I love.
Today, though, I'm thinking that I may have missed some wonderful books that others find such pleasure that they return again and again. So rather than giving my own rereading list, I want to solicit lists of YOUR favorites. Since books are my favorite gift to buy this time of year (easy to wrap, too), this might be a good time to shake up my own list. I'll follow up in a week or so.