On Rereading

I am going to throw out a couple of numbers. These numbers are just guesses, because Jurassic Parkthey involve things I never actually tracked, but I don’t think they are all that far off and are presented not as hard stats but just to give a general impression. So I think everyone should be OK with them.

Jurassic Park – 20

Small Gods – 12

Tom Sawyer – 10

Dragonflight -6

To Kill A Mockingbird -5

The Thrawn Trilogy – 5

The First Law – 3

God’s War -3

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell -2

This numbers represent, to the best of my guessing ability without a time machine to double check them, how many times I have read the books in question. Now Jurassic Park is an outlier for sure, it was the first adult novel I was given and in fifth grade it was as good as gold for me. I read it five or six times back to back and continued to reread it periodically right through high school. Likewise Tom Sawyer was a book I have held a copy of forever and I had to read To Kill A Mockingbird twice for classes.

Every other book listed is a title I have picked up in high school or later and then reread, for pleasure, several times since. I am a re-reader and I am not ashamed of this fact. If there was one thing that was ever going to derail my blogging it was the burning desire to go back to old favorites again. As I pushed through a growing pile of new releases and other new to me books my book shelves started singing my name. ‘Nathan,’ they called. ‘Nathan, we have all your old favorites’ right here!’

I have finally snapped. I refuse to refuse the siren call. I grabbed City of Stairs, very likely my favorite read of last year, and I pushed everything else back to read it.

And it was wonderful.

And I will most likely do it again.

Let that sink in. I reread a book less than a year after reading it the first time. For a person whose online persona is built entirely around being up to date on current reads this is not common. Especially as said person has watched his reading time cut in half or more by a change in jobs.

I understand why people don’t reread, I really do. I did not grow up in a family of re-readers. My mom and dad both read, but neither saw a purpose in buying a book that will only be read once (obviously our entire philosophy on reading was different from the start). They both figured that once you knew the story then what was the point? And as a person will a chronic need to know the ending (to the point of reading Wiki synopsis of books I have no plan on actually reading) I suppose I understand this.

Then of course is the blogger’s nightmare; a reread of an old book is one new book not getting read. And it isn’t just bloggers who feel this way. There are so many quality books out there, and the feeling of discovering something new and wonderful is such a great feeling, I really do understand the desire to keep looking for the next book love.

All of this, and a thousand other reasons why people don’t reread, I understand.

But I don’t actually get it.

When it came to City of Stairs I found myself thinking about it again during a recent Tough Travel’s topic. And I remembered how cool it was when they found a list of items in the Unmentionable Warehouse. And then I was trying to remember exactly how Sigrud took on the sea monster. And.. And… And……..

I was nose deep.

And yes, Shara was just as awesome. How did I forget the scene where she gets so angry that she…cooks. And not pancakes and fried eggs, no, Shara is too pissed for that. She goes gourmet fucking meal on those ingredients.

And yes, Sigrud was still something else. The man saves the day not once but twice and still sits in the background of Shara, that is something spectacular.

And little details were remembered, while other details missed the first time were found.

Most importantly I didn’t have one single thought that I was wasting my time. The story was just as fresh, even if I knew where it was going. I was enjoying reading this as much as any other book I have read this year. Which makes sense, because I enjoyed it as much as any book I read last year as well. Why would things be different this time?

Of course I have been doing a Discworld reread for some time now. And there have been a couple books, especially in the early days of the blog, that I had read once before and reread in order to drop a review. But for the most part I have resisted the call of the bookshelf and told myself that they would all be there when I finished blogging. That resistance is now broken. I refuse to deny myself one of life’s greatest pleasures.

A good story is always good, great prose always appreciated, and characters that become your friend never get old. Rereading great books should not be a guilty pleasure it should only be a pleasure. And if the old blog suffers a bit from it, so be it.

Hell, I may reread City of Stairs before the sequel hits.   Just because I can.

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