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.
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.