Dilemma: to reread or not to reread?

At the moment, I’m going through a rough patch of indecision and bafflement. My first problem is this:

Should I reread books I’ve already read for 20 before 20?

I have books I’m anticipating reading for the first time, and books I’m longing to read again for a myriad of reasons. I just got a load of new books from garage-saling, and books I bought in the beginning of summer I still haven’t touched.

“The truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more.”

― Gabriel Zaid, So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance

I love buying books, too. I adore the feeling of perusing a shelf at a bookstore, yard sale, rummage sale, flea market, anywhere for something fascinating or inspiring. Sometimes I just intend to own the book, without thinking of whether I will read it or not. Maybe I won’t, but the story will always be waiting for me if I choose to.

“With each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”

– Nick Hornby

I bought Lord of the Flies, The Odyssey, The Purgatorio, War and Peace and a small book of old poetry, along with some more current books, like Everfound  and TimeRiders. Books of all shapes and sizes. I have two summer reading books for school as well (which, of course, have to take priority). I also want to read some books I dug up in my house, like Alice in Wonderland and The Winter of Our Discontent. I filled out my Harry Potter collection, so now I have all but number 5; I have the seventh book left to read.

“An unread book is just a block of paper.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

(there are surprisingly a lot more negative quotes about leaving books unread.)

Which leads me to the other side of my dilemma. I have but one HP book left! I am sad to see it end, but I also want it to end grandly – and that won’t happen because I forget a lot from the previous books. I rushed in my passionate haste to finish them – and while I enjoyed the books thoroughly, I forget some good stuff! I want to relive it all again so I can be perfectly ready for the end of the series.

“An unread book does nobody any good. Stories happen in the mind of a reader, not among symbols printed on a page.”
― Brandon Mull

I also want to reread other favorites of mine, like Catcher in the Rye and Peter Pan, and other books I just plain forget, like Postcards from a Dead Girl (I believe I remember liking that book, or maybe it’s just my curiosity). I can’t remember if I ruled that rereads didn’t count in my 300-book-quest, but I might have to overrule that. My English teacher last year compared rereading a novel to replaying a song – you wouldn’t listen to a song just once if you liked it; you’d replay it! It is the same with books: if you like a book, or didn’t quite grasp it, there is no harm in rereading it!

I wouldn’t have chided rereading if she had not said that to my class – because I’ve reread books happily by myself before – but it’s just a matter of whether I feel that rereading a book on my 20 before 20 list would hinder my momentum.

I think that rereading books is essential to fully enjoying them and understanding them, and is totally not something wrong to do, so I will say this: no matter how much it appears that I’m cutting corners on my 20 before 20 list, I will reread as I please. A book is a book, no matter how many times read, so everything I read novel-wise counts.

* * *

Now I will leave you with a quote, that I found in my search for relevant quotes, that I thoroughly agree with! (I’ve never had coffee, but they got the non-dairy creamer right!)

 “You should date a girl who reads.

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

How romantic…

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

― Rosemarie Urquico

One thought on “Dilemma: to reread or not to reread?

  1. THAT QUOTE. My my my, I got goosebumps. I really liked this post, and I think rereading should definitely count in your 20 before 20. Because when you reread, it’s completely different from the first time. You know what’s going to happen, but you savor the words more. The plot becomes background noise. So it’s almost like it’s a different book! :)

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