Rereading favourite books (PWF)

Rereading favourite books is a joy for many people. We not only reconnect with favourite authors and characters. In a way we also reconnect with younger ourselves. Many writers also think rereading favourite books is a necessity.

Enid Blyton once a famous children's writer

Enid Blyton once a famous children’s writer

These were among the points made during a session which I thoroughly enjoyed at the Perth Writers Festival (PWF) 2016. Authors Tracey Farr, Debra Adelaide and Peter Rose discussed ‘A Reader’s Life’ with Sarah McNeil.

Of the four, only Debra Adelaide said she grew up in a home with very few books. She said that her parents didn’t understand about reading. Her mother once told her to make her Christmas book last all through the holidays.

One can only imagine that instruction encouraged much rereading! But Debra Adelaide, an academic and author of twelve books, does not seem to have suffered from her apparent deprivation.

During the session, she told the audience,

‘It is not a luxury to reread. It is more like a compulsion. Rereading is always a new experience. Some books lay down the bones of our reading life.’

As a young person, children’s writer Tracey Farr kept a list of every book she read. Ten years ago, she began another list and continues the practice. She told a delicious story about her love for the famous children’s writer, Enid Blyton.

Tracey remembers exactly when it started. Enid Blyton’s book, A Story Party at Green Hedges (1949), begins with an invitation. Tracey  said she felt drawn in, special, when she read the opening words.

I’m going to give a story party with fourteen children. I know you can’t come. Here is the invitation.

Poet, memoirist, critic, novelist and editor Peter Rose rereads Shakespeare every year, among other things. As a child, he read  poetry as a child. He remembers binging on Patrick White, Iris Murdoch and Henry James. He rereads these authors. He says he is  a ‘magpie of a reader’.

Some points made about rereading favourite books

Debra Adelaide

Debra Adelaide spoke about rereading favourite books

Debra Adelaide spoke about rereading favourite books

  • Rereading is not a luxury. It is more like a compulsion.
  • Rereading is always a new experience
  • Will never read all the books on my list
  • Doesn’t read to escape. Reading is my life
  • Says imagination has a vital function in our lives.

 

 

 

 

Tracey Farr

Tracey Farr

Tracey Farr

  • Rereading lets you work out how a book is put together
  • A previously read book is like an old friend – a comfort
  • Books were treasures in her childhood home and she sometimes revisits them
  • Books with American spelling were taboo and she still doesn’t like that spelling
  • She read and reread all of her parents’ old books
  • Now reads mostly fiction, and some poetry

 

Peter Rose

Peter Rose

Peter Rose

  • People need the right parents if they are to read as youngsters.
  • It is liberating to discover that you don’t have to read a book to the end but can discard it
  • One of his all-time favourites is Patrick White’s The Aunt’s Story.

 

Finally, here’s the note I wrote to myself at the conclusion of the session:

These were what I would call ‘sensible’ writers. They have established their identities. They are mature, thoughtful people, who don’t need to impress. And they are SO impressive.

Is rereading one of your pleasures? Please share your thoughts in a comment.

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10 thoughts on “Rereading favourite books (PWF)

  1. Thank you for this insight, Maureen. It has only been in relatively recent times that I have been able to leave a book unfinished if it didn’t ‘grab’ me – application and perseverance were part of the philosophy in the age in which I was brought up – we were also exhorted to eat everything on our plates (“Remember the poor people in India/Africa etc …”). Re-reading books was a necessary part of the limited choice when I was very young. How very fortunate we are to have the extensive and fascinating choices available to us today! And hurrah for Writers’ Festivals and commentators!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Coral. As you well know, I don’t finish books if I don’t think they deserve my time. Somehow or somewhere I learned to be less hard on myself after a similar upbringing to yours. And mine was complicated by nuns who reinforced the home message. I too used to reread through sheer necessity when I was young – as a child and later. But someone told me that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. In other words, I didn’t have to seek perfection the whole time. I’m glad I internalised that message. Hurrah, indeed for Writers’Festivals and the wonderful choices that have to be made there.

  2. Maureen,
    It has always been my contact with the literary world,
    to open up your site first ,when you come up into my *In Box * !
    I am keen to enter into the current Peter Cowan .600 word Short Story
    My* forte * is Poetry,and where do you start from with Short Story writing ?
    Regards
    James Watson
    0 4098 5335

    • Hi, James, lovely to hear from you. I’m glad you read my blog. I suppose short story writing, like poetry, begins with an idea that you play with and explore until you are ready to write it. And then the rewriting, editing and more rewriting. Just as it is with poetry. In a way, there are lots of similarities between poems and short stories. There are some books about short story writing. You could look them up on Amazon and see if anything appeals to you. Good luck with the Peter Cowan 600 word short story competition.

  3. I attended the work shop with Tracey Farr, she is fabulous. I still read a book to the end even if I don’t enjoy it, hoping it will change. Never does though. My favourite childhood read was Paddington Bear x

    • Hi, Rae. I agree Tracey Farr is fabulous. Lucky you, attending a workshop with her. I didn’t get organised in time to book a workshop this year. Love the energy that comes afterwards. I gave up reading books to the end in my fifties. Decided time was too short. My book club friends sometimes don’t approve!

  4. Hello Maureen
    I am just reading Rosanne Dingli’s Death in Malta as a result of your review. I wanted to re-read your review thinking you might have archives. Is it possible for me to access it?
    I love the gorgeous book cover in this blog
    Stephanie

    • Hello, Stephanie, nice to hear from you. I’m not sure what happened to my archives. WordPress is close to a total mystery to me! I will try to sort it out tomorrow. Meanwhile, here is the link to the review. http://maureenhelen.com/death-in-malta-a-review/ You might have to control click to get it from here.

      I love that cover too. I was surprised I hadn’t ever heard of the book before but when I looked up Enid Blyton I discovered that there are many more books I didn’t know about.

      • Thanks Maureen
        don’t go to any extra effort to find the archives on my behalf. I just thought I probably missed the connection. Thank you for providing the link. Wasn’t it amazing and wonderful about Helen Garner! KEEP an eye on you trash email!
        Stephanie

        • Now we are back online, I hope to chase up the archives for myself, Stephanie. And I am intrigued about my spam. A clue?

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