"In times of storm and tempest, of indecision and desolation,
a book already known and loved makes better reading than something new and untried. The meeting with remembered and well-loved passages is like the continual
greeting of old friends; nothing is so warming and companionable."
Elizabeth Goudge - The Bird in the Tree
Exactly my thoughts about the re-reading of much loved books! The main character in the book is making this statement as a real storm is raging outside his window, making sleep difficult... and a personal crisis is producing an equally raging storm within.
If I'm not feeling well or it seems as if the winds of adversity are blowing just a little too wild to keep within my comfort level then I often reach out for an old literally friend. Although I do the same in seasons of joy, too... as if wanting to share my joy with one I've walked with before.
Since I read my first Goudge book a few years ago, she has been a friend in adversity. I feel as if I can fall into her Stories, wrap them around me, and live in a different world. Which... if you read Goudge you will know... is interesting because all of her writing reflects joy as well as sorrow. But perhaps that is why she is the friend in adversity.
"Read Pilgrim's Inn first"... that is what my friends who introduced me to Goudge suggested. It is rare that a second novel of a trilogy would be such a suggestion but they were correct. I may have been sceptical at the time but as now a long time reader of her works I know... yes, Pilgrim's Inn (known as The Herb of Grace in England) is a wonderful introduction to a new friend.
My book friend Lanier's book club calls D. E. Stevenson "Goudge-Lite". I understand completely! I have favorite Stevenson books to return to when a mental vacation is required. Stevenson doesn't make me ponder as much as Goudge but also has a way of welcoming me into a world perhaps known only to writers of such quality.
I rarely reach for a new author if a pick-me-up is needed. No, it is at those times when life has made me a little ruffled around the edges that I need to know what to expect from a book, no surprises desired at that time.
Which may also be why I have used the same two devotional books for years. Long ago I purchased a leather bound copy of My Utmost For His Highest and a few years ago I
Only a true Bibliophile would understand that there are times when just having the books on my shelf brings true comfort, even if they are not being reread. For there are some stories I have read so many times, I can glance at the volumes on the shelf from my sofa or a soft chair and their presence brings comfort. They just have to be there, waiting, should I need to call upon them for a visit.
I have some books which appeal to me at various seasons of the year to reread. For instance, for some reason I prefer Gladys Taber in autumn and Jan Karon during the Holidays. Cold weather brings out my desire for long books while in summer I enjoy more nonfiction. I find classics such as Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice best enjoyed during long winter days.
I used to reread many of my Edith Schaeffer books at the beginning of the year and it never fails that come January, my thoughts lead me to that particular shelf. September was for so many years the beginning of school that I often have a desire to learn more in this month... to delve into books about history or the biography of great men and women who walked before me.
But then there is an entire different form of rereading, one that can occur all year round and in various moods. That is the rereading of books from my own childhood and youth or books I read to my children. My most favorite of all is The Wind in the Willows. But they include such titles as Anne of Green Gables, Girl of the Limberlost, and the Nancy Drew series.
Of course there will always be room for new friends in my life and on my bookshelves. All my old friends were new to me at one time. But lately I have preferred brewing a cup of tea and inviting an old friend to join me on the sofa.
Perhaps next it will be Henrietta from A City of Bells or Father Tim and his "dog as big as a Buick" from Mitford. Maybe I will visit the Yorkshire Dales and visit James Herriot's world again.
Now to stop writing and begin reading... This late season heat wave will soon be over and within weeks (hopefully) the cool days will return as the trees slip out of their fine greenery and thrill us with their colorful undergarments. I can see ahead the evenings of a cup of tea, a kitty, a throw... and an old literary friend.
Picture: Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, 2005 version