When I was thinking of the subject I wanted to chat about today, I almost passed it by as I thought I had just written about it recently. Then, when checking my archives, I was surprised to find it had been quite awhile ago (almost half a year...unbelievable!). Tempus really is fugiting. So during today's Sunday Afternoon Tea, I'd like to "re-visit the re-reading" of favorite books.
For me, re-reading favorite books is like putting on my favorite flannel housecoat or talking to an old friend, it is a lovely and comfortable experience. I know what is coming but the joy is in getting there. There are times I don't want surprises, I just want to return to a pleasant experience. Real life doesn't allow you to return...books draw us back over and over. Books are God's way of apologizing for our finiteness. :)
A couple of days ago, I found myself staring at the bookshelves in my living room, looking at some favorite volumes as they sat in their familiar places on the shelves. I made a mental list of those I'd like to re-read. As the mental list became too long, I took pen to paper and started writing down favorite titles. It soon became apparent that I'd have to prioritize what was most important...either that or give up reading anything new...which wasn't an option.
I already have a few books to re-read on my Summer Reading Challenge list, those being the Time books starting with A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine Le'Engle. I think I'm going to re-read a few of the Mitford books, a couple James Harriot books...especially All Creatures Great and Small, and perhaps Christy this autumn. It may be a good time to re-read a few of my favorite classics. Hmmm...autumn and Wuthering Heights?
There are favorite authors whose books I enjoy returning to quite often. If you have never read anything by W. Phillip Keller...do so! Although best known for his A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, I have actually never read it. I loved his autobiography called Wonder O' the Wind; A Common Man's Quest For God, and his Strength of Soul: The Sacred Use of Time. However, there was nothing of written by him (which I read) that I didn't enjoy. I was so sad to hear of his passing in the late 90's because I felt I knew him, although he did live a very long and fruitful life. I expect many of his books are available used at Amazon.
Other nonfiction authors that I pull out and re-read over and over...Edith and Francis Schaeffer, Elisabeth Elliot, C. S. Lewis, Emily Barnes, Alexandra Stoddard, Elizabeth George, Phillip Yancey...just to name a few. I know for every author listed, there are dozens I've forgotten!
These are the authors I return to at this stage of life. As a young wife and mother, my dog eared books were quite often about childrearing and family living. There have been seasons of life where I've preferred the deeper works of the Desert Fathers (and...um....mothers) for there is much to be learned from them, even by Protestants. There are times the best books are only the old books, written by authors at least a hundred years ago. Of course, there are also the newer books that are so enjoyable and lovely that I begin re-reading them immediately.
Then there are the "take me away from it all" books with the beautiful pictures as well as prose...all my Victoria magazine books, my tea party books, my decorating books, my gardening books, my cookbooks...you get the idea. I find myself quite often heading for my bookshelves (or the tall stack of coffee table size books that I have tucked between a bookshelf and a wall) and just randomly picking one of these books up...or two...or three... as I prop myself up with a fluffy pillow and retreat into the pages of a well worn favorite. In the long run, they are less harmful than Prozac and less fattening than candy.
Although one would certainly find my most re-read books often have chocolate smudges and coffee or tea stains. :)