Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On the rereading of books

A friend of ours was helping us unload a moving van a few years ago. After lugging a dozen or more book boxes in the house (with many more to come), he asked me why I had so many books. Didn't I know you could go to the library and borrow a book, read it and return it? Hehehe...I continue to smile when I think of the look on his face...and he was serious! Obviously he did not understand.

For one thing, my books are my old friends as well as new friends whose acquaintance I have yet to make. My old friends give me warmth and stability in a very chaotic world. The books I haven't read entice me with anticipation. Just knowing they are there...waiting for a rainy night with a cup of tea at my side and perhaps a scented candle on the coffee table (at least the illusion of peace). Knowing they are there to take me to another time and place, or perhaps receive the wisdom of another who has walked before me, or hand out the needed information of that moment. Libraries have their place, of course, but these books are mine.

One of the most pleasant ways I "get away from it all" during times of severe stress is by rereading favorite books. There is something about rereading a book that is so restful. When first reading, we are in unknown territory, we don't know where the book is going, we do know if we will agree with the author's advice, the mystery is so great that we must hurry to find out "whodunit", we have got to get that information and get it now! No, the first read may be enjoyable but it is not always...peaceful.

However, the reread can be pure joy. For one thing, I only reread books (unless for information) that I loved in the first reading. It is the nonfiction book by the author whose advice I took to heart. It is the work of fiction whose world I want to enter into again. Even though I know how it will end, I want to walk the path once more. There is nothing like seeing old friends on shelves, always available with "just what I need" for that moment in time.

There are a few books I reread every year, two of them are Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art (The Hidden Art of Homemaking in paperback) and her book titled What Is a Family. I have read L'Abri and her two books of letters a number of times. As for fiction, I have many friends I have revisited over the years but I think Catherine Marshall's Christy has been read and reread the most. It has been years since I pulled it off my shelf and read it, perhaps it would be good when we have a big snowfall (if we do this year) to curl up with a throw over me and a mug of hot chocolate and find myself on a mountain long ago.

I've been thinking of rereading for a couple of reasons. First, I've did a lot of rereading this year. I've forgotten most of the titles (one new year's resolution...to write down the list of all books read) but I remember times and places and the feeling of tension leaving me as I enter the pages of an old friend. Second, I've been rereading The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson, finishing it last night as I sipped chamomile tea for calm after a stressful day. As I reread it off and on these past couple of weeks, I realized again what a wonderful book it is.

I don't read books about motherhood at this stage of life. With one child well out of the nest and the other starting to fly, I'm entering another stage of life. However, The Mission of Motherhood is far more than about mothering, it is about living the Christian life. It is very "Edith Schaeffer-ish" and I highly recommend it to those who love Edith's books. (It is similar in title to another of Sally's books which is good but this one is great.)

I'd love to know what books other people reread and what leads you to pull a book off the shelf to read again. Perhaps I'll find some new friends to place on my shelves.


Kimberly said...

I love to reread books! I seem to reread seasonally: The Secret Garden in Spring,the Mitford Series in Fall, and Little Women in Winter, for example. I reread Jane Austen's books, and LM Montogomery's. I love rereading my various Victoria books.
I also reread Dee Henderson's books, especially the O'Malley series. I know, it's not classic literature, but they are enjoyable even though I know how the mysteries end! I've reread Randy Alcorn's, T. Davis Bunn's, and Ted Dekker's books more times than I can count. To me, a book isn't worth buying unless I've already read it and know I want to read it again.

Elizabeth said...

I too love books. I have so many. Reading for me is fun. I crave knownledge.

lady laura said...

I seem to re-read some books annually, most notably those by Elisabeth Elliot. Any will do, I love them all.

I also read Jane Austen's books time and time again, particularly Pride and Prejudice.

Lord of the Rings always make for a good re-read, especially in winter.

I also love Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art and What is a Family?, though I don't revisit them as often.

Strangely, there are some books that I loved that I am almost afraid to read again for fear I will not love them the same and the magic will be gone. They are usually books that struck me at a particular time, during a particular situation and they seem to be tied to that in my memory.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to read as many of L.M. Montgomery's books this year as I can. I read the Anne books many times when I was younger but haven't read the entire series in years. I'm really looking forward to it!
I've read the Emily trilogy also but again, it's been years. There are several others I've never read that I've found recently on Amazon. Should be fun!
As far as books to recommend....
I absolutely loved a book when I was a young adult called "Seventrees." I just checked and it's available used on Amazon. It's not a Christian book but as far as I remember it's "clean." It's a story about three generations of women-a grandmother (it starts when she's a girl), a mother, and a daughter. I wonder if I would still enjoy it? I think so...
Another book I remember loving was called "Tisha" about a young female teacher in the Alaskan wilderness. It's also available at Amazon. I wasn't a Christian when I read it but it seems to still be in print so maybe the library would have it. I don't remember any bad parts but it's been over 20 years since I've read it. When you mentioned "Christy" I thought of this book.
That's all I can think of for now. I love the Sally book you mentioned but I've only read it once.
Oh, two books by Susan Schaeffer (sp?) Macaulay are definite rereads-"For the Children's Sake" and "For the Family's Sake."
I used to read books about Tasha Tudor every year, especially in spring.
"An Island Garden" is great reading for spring! It's about Celia Thaxter's garden on an island off the east coast. Easy, quick read. If you like gardens, you will enjoy this book.
Alright, enough already! What a loaded question, lol!
Joanna :)

Brenda said...

Oh yes, I have read For the Children's Sake about a gazillion times (carefull the first couple of times and then skimmed particular sections after that). Also, For the Family's Sake, that reminded me a lot of her mom's writings.

I love reading what you all reread. Hope there will be more soon!

Brenda said...

I never thought of reading those books seasonally. What a great idea. I read a few of Randy Alcorn's fiction books and loved them. I especially liked this book about China. My husband had read a lot of T.Davis Bunn and Ted Dekker's books.

Hmmm...I'm beginning to remember more.

deb said...

Brenda, from reading your blog I think we are alike in many ways...well, except for liking cats. :) And...re-reading books. LOL! I do like to read but never to my knowledge have I re-read a book. My youngest daughter is much like you in that some books she has re-read at least a dozen times! No kidding! It's hard for me to fathom. But real book lovers are readers and re-readers! I'm glad you have a great hobby that you enjoy! My hobby is playing Scrabble over and over and increasing my word knowledge that way. So, I guess we are alike after all. Words and reading go hand in hand! :)

Brenda said...

Deb, my husband is the Scrabble player in our family. I think I was never good at it because I am not a good speller (you should see my posts before I do spellcheck and reread a couple of times).

Hehehe, I did have a dog as a child. Does that help?

Copper's Wife said...

I consider re-reading a really good book the same as visiting with an old friend. Some books lend themselves to being re-read merely for the pleasure of it. Others, however, give me new information with each reading. Books I re-read often are The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace (at least once every two years), Creating a Sensesational Home by Terry Willits (annually) and Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson every summer. I was just given a copy of The Mission of Motherhood for Christmas and I'm very much looking forward to startting it.

Sherry said...

I'm re-reading Madeleine L'Engle this year. I also like to re-read Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. And I agree that the two book sin particular that you mentioned by Edith Schaeffer are meant to be read over and over.

Islandsparrow said...

I have to comment for the first time on your blog - I love to reread books! You're right - the first time through can be a bit tense - wondering how things are going to turn out - rushing a bit to see how it will end. The second (or 3rd or 4th etc.) can be slow and leisurely - like taking a walk down a familiar path and noticing new things. I reread all the ones you've mentioned plus the Elizabeth Goudge books - I love her writing.


Jen Robinson said...

What a lovely post! I re-read Jane Austen and L. M. Montgomery, too. I also re-read D. E. Stevenson and Georgette Heyer, both excellent comfort reading. I liked what you said about books as your friends. I feel the same way. Sometimes I don't even re-read them, but I run my hand along their spines just to say "hi."