The Unregulated REREAD Challenge - Thread One
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Welcome to the 2017 Unregulated REREAD Challenge. This idea emerged from a conversation I had with a professor of Literature at the University of Washington. She described an assignment she gave her class, to write about a work they have read before, then to reread it, and then to write about it again. I believe she encouraged them to consider, in their first writing effort, such questions as why they felt drawn to reread the work and what they remember about their reaction to it the first time they read it. For their second writing effort, she encouraged them to consider the impact of the work on them given their current location along their lifeline, and any surprises they encountered in their reread. Otherwise, the exercise was intentionally loose.
For this challenge, no writing is required. I DO invite you to consider writing a sentence or two or ten before you embark on your reread, and I also invite any amount of reflection upon completion of your reread. However, you may write and share as little as "I reread this." Hence, unregulated. Also unbounded, lax, unfettered, open-minded, and nonjudgmental.
Your motivation for participation may be anything. Perhaps there is a book you reread almost every year. Perhaps there is a book that you've long thought of as one of your all-time favorite reads, but you realize it's been decades since you read it. Or a book you read in school that you want to read without that evaluative layer imposed upon your experience. Whatever your motivation, and whatever your rereading experience, feel free to share as much or as little as you wish on this thread. I will maintain the thread throughout the year and I'll try to create occasional community-building or shared-love-of-reading moments. I'll also track the totality of our rereads and represent them in a post near the top of each new thread.
Occasionally, I'm likely to post random images of kittens or nature. (Truth in advertising, that.)
My own rereading plans are not yet established. Historically, I have not been an avid re-reader because, well, there are so many books and there is so little time. But I have found the occasional reread to be rewarding.
Here are some possibilities for me:
The Color Purple by Alice Walker -- I read this when it was first released and I remember being blown away by it. Had LT existed, I think I would have given it five stars. Now, 35 years later, it's time for a revisit.
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison -- Similarly, I read this in 1981 while spending a few months in Krakow, Poland. I remember loving it but I don't have much memory of it and would like to experience it again.
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver -- I reread The Bean Trees last year and would like to reread the second in Kingsolver's "Turtle" duet.
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok -- I read this in school. I don't remember it at all.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith -- I believe I underappreciated this when I first read it.
Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie -- Alexie is one of the authors for Mark's American Author Challenge. I have read a few of his works and remember enjoying this one perhaps the most.
Thanks for setting this up, Ellen! Some of the works I'm thinking of re-visiting:
Dubliners by James Joyce - "The Dead" is the only story I have any sort of memory of, and even that's a bit fuzzy. But I always claim to love this collection of stories....
My Traitor's Heart by Rian Malan - About apartheid South Africa. I remember loving it when I read it for a seminar on political violence in college, but I don't think I actually read the whole thing.
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster - A school read that I think I might get more out of now.
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively - I read this as a teenager and much of it went over my head. I am an avowed Lively fan, so I'd like to see how this strikes me now.
I've got some others in mind, but these four may be the ones I prioritize...
I've got the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn fantasy series from Tad Williams on my shelf - I've been planning to reread it at some point. It was one of my faves a couple of decades ago - let's see how it held up!
I also have done very little re-reading as there are always so many new books to discover. But there are a few books that I read many years ago that are favorites in my mind, but now I will read them again many years later and see if they still have that special place in my heart.
Starting in January, the first book I am going to re-read is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Other books I am considering include: The Hearth and the Eagle by Anya Seton, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow and The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie.
Thanks for setting this up, Ellen.
>6 katiekrug: Hi Katie! I like that list. Moon Tiger was a favorite read of mine a couple of years ago. I want to read more by Lively.
>7 drneutron: Hey Jim! I love this -- your considered rereads are totally new to my consciousness. That is one of the things I hope happens on this thread/challenge.
>8 BLBera: Hi Beth. I would love to do a shared reread of Song of Solomon. And, as I've been saying on my own thread, I really want to read One Hundred Years of Solitude (for a first time!).
>9 DeltaQueen50: Hi Judy! Great list. I have The Big Sky on my TBR shelves. It wouldn't be a reread for me but if you get to it, perhaps I'll join you.
Ellen, I am really excited about this challenge, and it is the only one I am committing to in 2017. Thanks for taking the time to set this up. I always reread books every year - some of my favorite reading is going back to visit old friends. Some of the books I am thinking about for your challenge are:
The English Patient - I read this for the first time in 2014, and I came away with a list of books that I wanted to read that were mentioned in it.
All Quiet on the Western Front - I read this in high school, and it is still with me. It would be interesting to see what I would take away from it now.
Finding George Orwell in Burma - I LOVED this book when I read it in 2012, and it started me reading through Orwell's canon.
A Moveable Feast - The only Hemingway that I have ever loved.
Tangerine - I read this with the kids when we were homeschooling, and I loved it as much as they did.
City of Thieves - I read this one years ago and liked it. It would be interesting to reread it now that I know where it is going.
This is a new thread for me. I too am an avid rereader (less so, since with this group my WL and TBRs are huge). I'm starring this, and will post if I get the urge to pull an old favorite off the shelf
>11 Crazymamie: Mamie, I am so honored. I'm looking forward to seeing where this challenge takes us! I've only read two of your rereads, The English Patient and All Quite on the Western Front. I thought both were excellent so I'll be interested to see/hear how your reread goes.
>12 mahsdad: Welcome, Jeff! I hope you do decide to pull at least one old favorite off the shelf and, if you do, that you'll share a thought or two with us!
>2 EBT1002: I realize that this thread may get complicated if I persist in posting images for the cover of every single book that gets mentioned! At some point, depending on how this goes, I may shift to posting only covers for books that are actually being read or have been read for this challenge. But for now, I like the variety that the illustration demonstrates. And I hope it sparks some ideas for possible rereads for visitors.
I want to reread In de ban van de ring, the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings. I used to read it every 4 to 5 years, last time was 2008.
>15 FAMeulstee: This is the year to renew the tradition, Anita! I'll be interested in whatever thoughts you choose to share.
I am so thrilled to see this up and running, Ellen. Thank you for doing it. I was inspired by the discussion a few months ago and was not sure it was to be during a certain time of year. Thankfully, it does not appear to have a time limit.
There are two books I have considered for this challenge:
Rendezvous with Rama - When I read it years ago, it dazzled me with the scope and awesome wonder of exploring a giant monolith which was passing through our solar system. The crew of the ship sent to meet the artifact is diverse and interesting. The exploration and description of the monolith's interior was awe inspiring. The challenges faced, and the action met make the book a fun and thoughtful read.
Star Trek The Next Generation: Q-Squared is my favorite Star Trek novel. I have only read it once, but have strong memories of the fantastically creative story of the battle between two powerful beings and three of four timelines threatened by their melee. As their fighting gets more heated, the borders between realities begin to break down. This book is much like a love letter to the show and fans alike.
If I had to add a couple of more, I would include:
To Serve Them All My Days - I read this in my 20s and as man who spent at least 2 years in a private boarding school for boys, I thought this might be interesting. I was also intrigued by the protagonist's war experience and how it affected his ability to teach. My expectations were blown out of the water. This is stunning tale of a man's healing and subsequent success though his role as a teacher.
The Adventure of Tom Sawyer To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I ever read the whole thing. However, I love the opening when Tom meets the dandy boy on this walk home. Hilarious interchange.
Great Expectations - I read this once, in high school, and, in retrospect, enjoyed it. This is why I am likely to try and read it again at some point. I think my readings will be markedly different with 30 years between them.
I am slowly making my way through the Harry Potter series, so I'll post what I end up reading/listening to.
This past year I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I loved it so much, I NEED to read it again. This time, I will take it very slowly. I can see myself reading this often. I bought myself the Penguin cloth bound edition.
I plan to participate: Not sure all of what I will read, but starting with Allison Bechdel's Fun House.
>17 brodiew2: I'm glad to see you here, Brodie. I wasn't sure about instituting a timeline but decided against it, mostly for my own sanity and to keep with as loose a challenge as I feel my life enables me to host. Still, I expect I'll figure out some way to infuse some quarterly stats -- or something like that -- into the experience. :-)
I love your brief descriptions of your memory of reading your books of choice the first time around. That's exactly the sort of thing that I hope enhances folks' rereading experience here!
>18 luvamystery65: Roberta, you are rereading the HP series? I read the first one and have never gotten around to the rest of the series, despite many reports that the series improves as one makes one's way through.
The lovely cloth-bound cover doesn't show up in my search so I've posted an alternative image for Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.
>19 banjo123: Rhonda, I have also considered a reread of Fun Home. It's still my favorite Graphic Memoir!
I love the tremendous variety of books that are appearing in that thread-topping graphic!
I wasn't expecting to pick up so many bbs from a rereading thread.... Will be back with a list of four.
I am also an inveterate re-reader (Make new friends but keep the old...) The one book I've been considering for a PLANNED reread is Dune. Although I reread it several times after it first came out in the mid-60s, I haven't done so for at least 20 years and probably more. They are doing a reread on the Tor.com site and I'm wondering if the book still inspires the awe and wonder that it did when it first appeared in the genre.
I have participated in the 75 book challenge since 2010, so consider me a newbie here. I love this idea, re-reading books at different stages really changes how you see them. A re-read of Tess of D'Urbervilles changed my view dramatically -- I hated Tess the first time I read it, and loved it the second time (I suspect my 17 year old self was too wrapped up in historical romance to deal well with relationships). And Doris Lessing's The Diaries of Jane Somers was a really different read in my 20s compared to my 40s.
I have already pulled two books to re-read this year before I found this thread, so I'll list them.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
The other book I'm considering re-reading is The Diviners by Margaret Laurence.
Edited (about two weeks later) for clarity and to fix sentence structure.
>20 EBT1002: Yes, HP is a reread for me. I'm taking it very slowly. I reread (listened) to the first 3 this past year. I started book 4 and I'll pick it up now and again between listens. It's a very informal reread.
I hope to participate in this group. I love re-reading, especially when there has been some time elapsed since the first read. Some of the candidates for me are:
Read in high school, early college (late 1960s, 1970s):
The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne
Winesburg, Ohio, Anderson
Song of Solomon, Morrison
Return of the Native, Jude the Obscure, Far from the Madding Crowd: all Hardy
Read in the 1980s and 1990s:
Madame Bovary, Flaubert
Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth: Wharton
The Robber Bride, Atwood
Hotel du Lac, Brookner
My Antonia, Cather
Except for The Scarlet Letter, these are all books I enjoyed the first time around. I want to re-read Hawthorne because last year I read another Hawthorne, and enjoyed it, so I'd like to re-visit my dismal high school experience of The Scarlet Letter.
I think I'll be rereading
Mill on the Floss because I read this as a kid and a teacher said some patronising things about my criticism of it. I reckon I'm about her age now. Will I patronise myself too?
Ingenious Pain because a friend recommended it to me at uni and I loved it. It's one of the first modern 'literary' novels I read.
Waiting for an Angel - because I read it in Nigeria, along with a couple of other novels by Nigerian writers, and it meant a great deal to me.
Illness as a Metaphor I read this after I happened to pick it up in a bookshop about ten years ago. I knew nothing about Sontag, but loved the way she wrote so clearly about illness. I'd like to see how the power of this stands up to time.
I tend to reread three or four books most years, so was delighted to find your thread Ellen.
I have a collection on my catalogue for read 'thrice or more'.
I'm not sure what I will reread yet in 2017, beyond Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa, long a favourite.
I liked this idea when you first kited it last Fall, Ellen. I definitely am in, though I'm unfocused at this time. I'll come up with some possibilities soon.
I like the idea too, Ellen.
I re-read 19 books of the 92 read in 2016, but none were planned. I typically consider a re-read if someone's mentioned a book or if I need comfort reading. Had a bit of both this year, so perhaps 20% is higher than usual.
I'll probably end up just reporting back after I've finished a re-read, but now I'll be mindful of my original opinion and see if my new one has changed.
>29 luvamystery65: Informal rereads are sometimes the best, Roberta. I plan to revisit at least one easy, just-for-fun read sometime this year.
>30 kac522: Hi Kathy and welcome! I love your list of rereads. I took artistic license and posted book covers for at least one of each author, rather than every book. My top posts were getting a bit slow to download! The Scarlet Letter, Ethan Frome, and My Antonia would be desirable rereads for me, too. And I do plan to reread Song of Solomon this year.
>31 charl08: Hi Charlotte! I haven't read any of those you listed so it will be fun to read whatever thoughts you choose to share as you revisit them.
>32 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline. I love that you actually have a collection of books you've read thrice or more. Truly a rereader.
>33 weird_O: Just ring in when you decide on a reread, Bill. You have all year! :-)
>34 karenmarie: Hi Karen! I'll look forward to reading whatever you choose to post after any of your 2017 rereads. I hope it's a year that requires fewer comfort reads but plenty of revisiting of old friends just because.
>18 luvamystery65: I will also be slowly rereading HP. As I've read the first two books several times with my children and reread the first three recently, I've dived back into book #3, which is one of my favourites. I'm doing it as audio this time with Stephen Fry narrating.
My reason for the reread is that I've only read the final 4 books once and I devoured them all within a few hours of their publication at the time they were released. I did this at the time so I could avoid seeing any spoilers but apart from the films I have never gone back to them.
>36 avatiakh: The audios are such a great way to experience HP! I'm glad you are enjoying them slowly.
>36 avatiakh: Wonderful, Kerry. And I love your description of your first time reading the HP books. This reread should be fun, eh?
>37 luvamystery65: Makes me wonder if I should consider digging into the series in audio, since I quit reading after the first one....
>38 brodiew2: It's a lot of fun, Brodie! I admit that I'm using some artistic license in choosing the cover to post ~~ sometimes I use the touchstone someone posts but not always.
It's a really cool assortment of books, isn't it!?
>39 EBT1002: One of my sons was exactly the right age for HP when it first came out. We got the first two books, ravished them and then raced to get book 3 when it was first released, the rest is history.
One thing I haven't enjoyed is JK Rowling's inability to let go of her characters now that the series is over.
Hi! I will be stopping by to see how this experiment goes, and may, time permitting, join in with a reread of my own. My f2f book groups sometimes light on something I've read (as happened this December). It's almost always an interestingly mind-bending experience.
Hi, Ellen! I love this idea. I used to re-read much more than I do now, what with the press of so very many books.
I'm looking at planned revisits of The Jewel in the Crown and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man next year. Others may occur to me as a good idea, but next year is too uncertain for me to plan right now.
Thanks for starting this up!
I will probably add a few as time progresses because I don't have the list in front of me at the moment of everything I want to read in 2017. However, I do know three titles off the top of my head that fit:
The Scarlet Letter - I've actually read this one about three times, the first of which was in high school. Since then, I learned Hester Prynne was actually based upon the wives of an ancestor. She is not the wife from which I descend, but I still find it interesting to re-read the book from time to time as I read more about my interesting ancestor.
Moby Dick - Our class read Dumas and some of our classmates with another teacher read Melville in 10th grade. Most of us ended up reading both books because of the enthusiasm we each showed. I want to re-read this one along with Philbrick's Why Read Moby Dick? to see if I pick up more than I did with my unguided read.
A Child's Garden of Verses - I kind of caught the poetry bug last year when I picked up Mary Oliver's latest book. When I saw this one on the Authors Card Game for Stevenson, I decided it was a perfect read for me! This was one of my favorite books as a child.
This challenge sounds amazing!!! I love to reread books. I'm hoping to reread a lot of books this year, but we will see how far I get. These are my top picks Ellen:
The Hobbit - I first read it the year before last (I think), and loved it I would like the read the Lord of the Rings for the first time this year; so I thought I would reread The Hobbit first to set the tone, and make sure I didn't miss anything.
Harry Potter - I reread this series every year, I love it so much.
Secret of the Sirens - This is another series I have reread it every year since I was 12 (I think). It's about a secret society who protects mythical creatures, and fights against a dark force that threatens humanity's existents.
Those are my picks for now. Happy New Year everyone!
Hi Ellen! I'm in - super excited about this challenge. For sure I plan to re-read The Queen's Thief Series, but I always end up re-reading several books. I'm due for a re-read of something by Stegner, Poisonwood Bible, and I'm sure with the Newbery challenge I'm doing with the kids, there will be some repeats for me. Thanks for setting this up!
I am such a slow reader that the thought of re-reading seems kind of crazy. But when hubs and I met a million years ago we had both loved the same childhood book Wilderness Champion and I am very tempted to re-read that one if I can find it in the book boxes, yet unpacked from our summer move. I will definitley follow this thread as there will be many gems mentioned with great associated memories. Great idea Ellen!
>1 EBT1002: marvelous. totally, completely and absolutely marvelous. "Also unbounded, lax, unfettered, open-minded, and nonjudgmental." sigh
>44 thearlybirdy: colour me super impressed with your rereading efforts!!
I need to compile a list of maybes....my initial feeling is to go for a read that i have previously rated 5-stars, but maybe I will try one that didn't impress quite so much the first time and see how it goes the second. My few rereads in the past have been ones I utterly loved, just to see if they hold up....and they all did. So that is promising.
>49 LovingLit: I really love to reread. Most of the books I've chosen I've reread before. That being said, I'm still looking forward to reading them again.
I think at some point this year I will re-read A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman. And I might re-read something else, but I don't want to plan my reading too much this year for I find that if I make too many plans I start to resent them and completely abandon everything.
How about restarts? I've got a short list of books I started and abandoned for different reasons.
Like Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. Burroughs is an icon of beat literature. But the book is only marginally comprehensible. I want to give it another try.
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass is another one.
The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy is revered by many as a hilarious picaresque novel, and I tried a couple of times, but nary a snicker did the tale elicit.
It works for me.
>55 ffortsa: oh The shipping news. i loved that. i even liked the movie. Dench was superb.
i'm walking on sunshine. when i was a very young person, i read Under the volcano. i didn't understand it, really, but i felt drunk, completely drunk, through the entire book as the main character drank himself down on mescal. i was ignorantly impressed. i didn't know why exactly it seemed like an amazing book. it just did. i've been wanting to reread it for years to see if i would still be as impressed, but it hasn't been in audio. this thread inspired me to try, once again, just on the off chance and there it is on audible.com. and narrated by John Lee, of all the wonderful people. and my 73rd birthday is this weekend so i bought it from audible. oh what frabjous destiny.
My *best* foray into rereading was The Great Gatsby. Read it at high school, but remembered nothing from the plot. Read it again so I could have read if before seeing the Baz Luhrman film that came out a few years ago, but once I finished it realised I hadnt actually been concentrating that much so still had no idea what had gone on. Then, I re-reread it (this is the third time, mind!) concentrated hard, and just loved it.
Success! or failure....Depends on how you look at it ;)
I have completed my first re-read of the year with Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I loved this book when I was young and although I could see some flaws with this reading, I still gave it five stars as it once again captured my heart just like it did those many years ago.
My book club is starting the year off with a re-read: Jane Eyre! Can't wait. : )
I randomly decided to start listening to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn which was a childhood favorite. I tried to re-read it a couple of years ago and it didn't go so well, but I am enjoying it on audio.
> I reread The Great Gatsby about every 18 months or so. Amazingly after 30+ readings I still find sentences that stop me in my tracks. It's about due a reread this year.
My book club chose Jane Eyre for February. This is a novel that I've loved since I first read in when I got it for my birthday when I was ten years old. I lent my copy to my daughter, who also loved it. Unfortunately, she took it to Spain with her and lost it there.
In graduate school, I wrote quit a lot about Charlotte Brontë, and it increased my love and respect for the novel. When my book club chose it, I realized that it's been almost ten years since I last read it, more than time for a reread.
>61 Caroline_McElwee: That is one of my absolute favorites, and I reread it every year or so, too!
I am thinking that my first reread this year will be Finding George Orwell in Burma. I read this book for the first time in 2012, and it really spoke to me. It had me reading more Orwell and wanting to learn more about Burma - I LOVE when books lead you on other journeys. Here is my review from the first time around:
This book is just so unique, filled with interesting facts and summations, it tells the story of a journalist's efforts to retrace the footprints that George Orwell left when he spent five years in service there in the 1920s. Emma Larkin gives us more than a travelogue; she gives us an inside look into the repercussions of colonialism and makes us look at the body of Orwell's work with new eyes, wondering if, in fact, Orwell did write a trilogy (unintentionally) that tells the story of Burma. As she journeys through the country, she gives us an inside look into the spirit of a people that have been repressed but not completely silenced, who have been beaten but not broken. It is a familiar story, but it is freshly and innovatively told. It also shows us clearly why Burma should never be referred to as Myanmar.
"...the regime claimed that the changes were a long-overdue move to discard these colonial tags. But there was a deeper-rooted motive. The generals were rewriting history. When a place is renamed, the old name disappears from maps and, eventually, from human memory. If that is possible, then perhaps the memory of past events can also be erased. By renaming cities, towns and streets, the regime seized control of the very space within which people lived; home and business addresses had to be rewritten and relearned. And, when the regime changed the name of the country, maps and encyclopedias all over the world had to be corrected. The country known as Burma was erased and replaced with a new one: Myanmar."
As Larkin retraces Orwell's steps from his time spent in Burma, she provides insights into how his time there shaped his views and therefore his writing. Her thoughts and analogies are shared side by side with direct quotes from his work and also with explanations of the stories that he told, making it possible for someone who has not read any of Orwell's work to appreciate the points that she is making.
"Orwell had based Animal Farm on the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Stalin's fearsome drive to collectivize the Soviet Union's farmland, resulting in the death of millions of peasants. I preferred to read it as the second part of Orwell's unintentional trilogy on Burmese history....When I discussed Animal Farm with my Orwell Book Club in Mandalay, Tui Lin, the jovial retired teacher, did most of the talking. He had, as he liked to say, lived through a real-life version of Animal Farm. Tui Lin refers to the years under Ne Win as 'the time of the green spectacles'. To look at something through green spectacles, he explained, is to look at a thing that is bad and be forced to think that it is good. The phrase has a curious history. The battles and bombs of the Second World War devastated Burma's paddy fields and plantations, and by the time the Japanese army eventually occupied the country farmers found it hard to grow any edible produce. Even the farm animals and pack-horses refused to eat the parched grain, because of its unhealthy-looking white colour. The Japanese, fearful that the donkeys they needed to transport munitions in the mountainous terrain of Upper Burma would starve, came up with an ingenious solution. They fashioned spectacles out of green-tinted glass and wire and hooked them around the donkeys' ears. 'The donkeys saw that the grain was green and happily ate it,' explained Tui Lin. 'that's what we had to do during our years in Burma's Animal Farm. The entire nation was forced to wear green spectacles just like those donkeys.'"
Larkin's journey provides us with not only a history of Orwell, but also a history of Burma, and when you have finished, you will never look at either one the same way again.
"The few snippets of autobiography that Orwell left behind indicate that his time in Burma was a major turning point in his life, marking his transformation from a snobbish public-school boy to a writer with a social conscience who would seek out the underdogs of society and try to tell their stories."
*I'll report back with my thoughts after the reread
>60 katiekrug: - Yesterday, I went to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side in NYC. It's organized around different "experiences"/tours that trace different aspects of immigrant life from the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries. On one of the tours, the guide mentioned the Williamsburg Bridge and how it served as a pressure valve for the over-crowded LES. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is set in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, so I imagine the apartments I was seeing and some of the experiences I was hearing about were at least somewhat applicable to that setting. I remember as a child, the setting of ATGiB seemed fantastical, like something completely made up and removed from my own experience - the tiny apartment, the poverty, the melting pot of the neighborhood... Revisiting the book now, understanding the historical background and context, adds an interesting layer to the reading. There were some neat connections to be made during my time at the museum, and I found the visit much more rewarding than it might otherwise have been (though it's a great museum and would have been a good experience even without the reading connection!).
>61 Caroline_McElwee: wow! That would make you a champion rereader! (rererererererererererereader)
Oh my, you all are amazing! I have been AWOL ( which happens occasionally throughout the year and you have just picked up the thread and carried it. Some great rereading going on here, too, and it's all in the spirit of what I was hoping would happen.
I'm struck by two things: the relatively common desire to reread an old beloved classic. This makes sense to me, of course, but I'm also aware that it involves the risk of having a beloved reading memory upset. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Little Women, Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby.... the thing is that they are classics for a reason. Though we may notice a flaw or two in rereading or the work may simply land differently on us as we are in a different stage of life, the essence of the novel seems to be timeless.
>63 Crazymamie: Mamie, thank you for sharing your review from your first reading of Finding George Orwell in Burma. I look forward to your second review. :-) It's a book I have been wanting to read for my first time around!
>61 Caroline_McElwee: and >65 LovingLit: I agree, that is a champion rereader!!! And it speaks volumes, Caroline, that you have read The Great Gatsby so many times and it still can take your breath away.
>64 katiekrug: That is taking the rereading to a whole new height! How cool that your new location enabled you to visit the area and get a real feel for the setting of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I read it last year, for the first time, and I'm realizing now that I drew from the tv series of Call the Midwife to create my visuals of the setting. Not the same at all, of course, but it is what I had to draw upon.
Ellen, few people love The Great Gatsby on first reading. Most wonder what all the fuss is about. And then down the line comes that tickle to have another go, beware, there obsession lies.
For me it is very definitely the writing and the tone. But also the characters, including many of the passing characters. When I come upon some sentences it as if I'm standing there in the corner of the room, watching them. In many respects it is a very melancholy book, maybe I like that. So something that starts out feeling thin and superficial, ends up weighty and deep in many ways.
Don't you think that the fact that many have to read it in high school is one big reason people don't love Gatsby on the first read; I think the marvel of it is lost on teens.
I re-read The Great Gatsby (last year, I think) and liked it.
There definitely is a peril to re-reading. I finished my first, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; which I remembered as being totally great, five star. This time around it was good, but kind of too self-involved. Just to show that reading is really an interaction between Reader and Book, and that time is river we go wading in.
The 2 books that I will almost cutainly reread this year will be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Both I loved when I was younger and still do, even if the time travel in POA is a tiny bit shoddy and the end of the first Alice book would be classed as a cop out today. Both books sing to my inner child and confused teenager, both cemented my love for Fantasy and both give me so many feels each time I reread them. They are comfort food.
I really would like to get around to rereading Shades of Gray by Jasper Fforde this year. I gushed about this book when I read it in 2010. It's concept, constrution and wit drew me in tossed me around sat me down very happily on the other side. Just the first line gets me every time
It began with my farher not wanting to see the Last Rabbit, and ended up with me being eaten by a carnivorous plant.
I have never reread a Jasper Fforde book. I belive that it is time as I maybe 40 before he releses another book.
Hi Ellen! I'm glad you've started this thead, what a great idea! I usually reread a book or two each year, and I have a handful of books I've read three times or more (The Handmaid's Tale is the first one that comes to mind in that category). A large part of my Folio Society collection is composed of books I've already read and intend to reread more than once. This year I've made a big change and decided not to plan ANY of my reading, to try to read less books in total number than the previous few years, but try to read more longer works and do as much rereading as I feel like. Oh, and read from my own collections too. It's a bit strange, not having endless lists to refer to, as I'm left with so many choices every time I complete a book and want to pick the next one, but I felt I needed a different approach, as I need to be able to follow my moods more than ever. This might mean I might drop more books unfinished than ever before, if they don't accord with me at the moment I've picked them up. Rereading a old favourite can be extremely comforting of course, though sometimes there are surprises in store.
Because of this lack of planning, I won't mention titles I expect I'll want to reread this year (though very tempted to mention The Great Gatsby which I have in several editions and have wanted to reread for a good while now...). Instead I'll just report on the ones I've already read. So far there have been three:
My Letter to the World and Other Poems by Emily Dickinson. This is a book of poems with illustrations by a local artist I admire very much, Isabelle Arsenault (she's won many prizes for her work). I pick up this book at about once every each year. It is only 48 pages long or so, but poring over the poems and illustrations, I spend a happy hour with it and each time discover something new.
My second reread so far was Muriel Spark's Memento Mori. It was a great favourite when I picked it up the first time in 2011 (a few months before joining this group), and I'd wanted to reread it ever since, but unfortunately it didn't make the same impression on me this time. I think the fact that I have an elderly friend (going on 98 in March) presently recuperating from a second broken hip makes me find old age and its vagaries less amusing, despite Spark's dark humour which usually appeals to me tremendously.
There was also an 'accidental' reread of Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie, as I hadn't checked to verify if I'd read it before and forgetting I had, picked it up again last week (when I'd just listened to it in 2015!). The good news is I have such a bad memory that a lot of it felt fresh. And Agatha Christie's books are just meant to be read over countless times anyway.
>75 Smiler69: I've accidentally picked up one I've read before too. Fortunately Agatha Christie books are fun whether new or old.
One of my first ever rereads was a total accident. I didn't even realised I had read it already until I was nearly half way through! Ha! I mustn't have been concentrating at all, either time. (It was a Barry Lopez book, Crossing Open Ground) That was years ago....
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I first read this award-winning novel when I was in graduate school, probably around 1985 (it was first published in 1982), just as I was both coming out and coming to a greater awareness of issues of race and gender in our country. Honestly, three decades later I did not remember the story at all but I did remember it having a powerful emotional impact on me. The same occurred this time albeit somewhat tempered by age and temper (both mine).
Celie is a young girl growing up in the American South during the first half of the 20th century (I think); she is raped by her father and quickly married off to an older man whom she neither loves nor trusts. Her beloved sister Nettie, who refuses to become an additional sexual plaything for Celie's husband, leaves home and disappears into the decades. Told through Celie's letters to God and later to Nettie, as well as Nettie's letters to Celie - none of which are delivered in either direction - the story steadily collects interesting characters, most notably Shug Avery. An old girlfriend of Celie's husband, Shug comes to stay and becomes the longed for love object not only of Mr. ____ (as Celie's husband is known, although Shug calls him Albert) but of Celie herself. Shug is her own woman and she unapologetically follows her heart and speaks her mind. She teaches Celie about love and sex and the world. Odd alliances develop in her wake and healing occurs even within some of the most heartless relationships. That this occurs without sacrificing Celie's dignity speaks to Ms. Walker's talent and craft as a writer.
Meanwhile, Nettie has traveled to Africa with two missionaries and their two children. Her narrative of the Olinka tribe's clash with destructive British colonists provides an unblinking illustration of the contradictions and confusions when a people who have sold their own to the white men as slaves are later run over, literally, by the white man's empire-building machine.
The voices are pitch-perfect and resonant and the narrative unfolds at a pace that mirrors the emotional weight of the story. The denouement as these two sisters' journeys begin to converge is poignant and surprisingly satisfying. Highly recommended.
I've got two non-fiction reads going at the moment, so I've been indulging in Georgette Heyer while driving. I've finished Sylvester and I'm listening to Cotillion now. I probably read Cotillion almost every year. It cracks me up.
I've also done a re-read of Maniac Magee with the kids as part of our Newbery Award project.
The re-reading is lovely. It's more relaxed, because you know the book. Like talking with an old friend.
I always compare rereads to that old Brownie Scout ditty, "Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold." ;-)
My first reread of the year will be at the behest of my book group. I first read Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire when it was published in 2016. It was the first book of hers that I had read outside of the October Daye series, which is truly excellent, and I think part of my reaction (slightly disappointed) was to the fact that it was not a Toby book. I liked it but didn't love it. Since then, I've read four more books in this series and, while I still love Toby more, I have definitely enjoyed them. So it will be interesting going back to this initial book of the Incryptid series and reading it, knowing the worldview and not constantly comparing it to the other series but being able to relax into it and enjoy it.
So, I've done it, and definitely enjoyed it more.
Book #14 Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (352 pp.)
This was a reread for a book discussion on Tuesday. I love McGuire's writing. She IS smart and snarky and imaginative--all the things Cutter was trying to be in the previous book but not as successful at. This is the New World, where humanity unknowingly exists with the nonhuman Incryptids, and the Price family "curates" them. That is, the Price family has taken the responsibility in North America for managing human and Incryptid populations so that they live in harmony (i.e., basically humans are clueless and incryptids are supported and protected as long as they don't make humans prey.). But over in the Old World, the Covenant has been focused on wiping out all incryptids for centuries. The Price family revolted and disappeared for dead from their purvieu a century or so ago, but are considered traitors to humanity. So when a Covenant man shows up in NY, where Verity is policing the incryptids AND trying to make a career as a competitive dancer, and a snake cult starts sacrificing virgins trying to wake a dragon sleeping beneath Manhattan, that's just the start. Are we having fun yet?
My reread for this month will be Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters. Pratchett is one of the authors for February's British Author Challenge, and I've read most of his work, definitely all the Discworld ones. I chose Wyrd Sisters because it's the first of the Witches books (Equal Rites was an aberration) and I've read the least in that strand. It's been a long time, and in the meantime I've developed more respect for Granny Weatherwax in enjoying the Tiffany Aching books, so I'm looking forward to renewing my acquaintance.
I forgot about this "challenge" until you mentioned it on your main thread--and I was looking forward to it! It isn't very challenging for me because I love to re-read, both for comfort and for better insight into great works. I'm thinking of re-visiting Ragtime, All the King's Men, and The Sound and the Fury. I have read each of them at least twice already, but I can't imagine ever being finished reading any of them.
Reread Great Expectations and loved it more than the first time. Although I knew the story and the surprises I was enjoying the atmosphere Dickens created in London in the second half of the novel - and all the wonderful characters - the friendship between Pip and Joe - and Pip and Herbert - were heartwarming.
Just re-read a childhood favorite sci-fi book, City by Clifford D. Simak, and it stood up very well over time. Humans transforming, dogs becoming much more intelligent and language-speaking (the stories are dog bedtime stories), robots, including Jenkins, who "lives" through the thousands of years the stories cover, life on Jupiter, the multiverse. Good stuff.
>89 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, Linda. What great books to reread. Be good ones for me to reread.
>92 weird_O: Favorites, all, Bill. AND, I have the Folio Society edition of S&F, with multi-colored text, as Faulkner himself envisioned it. I have yet to read it that way, and I'm pretty psyched about it.
I am starting Jane Eyre. The first time I read it was when I got a copy for my tenth birthday. I loved it. I don't know how many times I've read it over the years, but I started to appreciate it even more when I read it in graduate school. I haven't read it since then, so I will be interested to see if extensive graduate school discussion has diminished my enjoyment.
For my February re-read I went with a childhood favorite, The Chronicles of Robin Hood by Rosemary Sutcliff. Originally published in 1950 this is a straight forward re-telling of the legend. All the familiar characters such as Maid Marion, Little John and Friar Tuck are here. This has stood the test of time well, Sutcliff breaths life into story and delivers an exciting and intriguing story.
>95 DeltaQueen50: I love almost all books by Rosemary Sutcliff, I own all her Dutch translated books and a few in English.
Book #21 Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (265 pp.)
This reread was for the British Author Challenge for February but also counts for the reread challenge. I have long preferred the Death and Watch strands of Discworld to the Witches, with the Wizards being the least favorite, and so it has been a long, long time since I read this first book involving Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrit. I enjoyed getting reacquainted with it. Lots of broad and subtle humor interwoven--a good grounding in Shakespeare and in early American comics (Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy, Chaplin) . Lots of twists and turns, made more fun for me because I remembered the main one.
Well, I told you all that this would be an unregulated read. Luckily, this group is exquisitely skilled at carrying on a book conversation with no moderation needed. Thank goodness for that!
I'm glad folks are looking for opportunities to double up. This challenge seems like it has the potential to pair well with CAT challenges, the BAC, the AAC, the ANZAC, TIOLI challenges, and dry white wine. Or red wine. Or sparkling water. You get what I'm saying.
I also love that folks are revisiting childhood favorites.
My next reread will be Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I expect to read it in March, perhaps during travels to San Antonio or New Orleans.
I was going through a bookcase, looking for volumes to purge, when I came across Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. I remembered enjoying it, but that's all. But...when I opened the back cover I found two quotes that made me say, "Oh, yes, this is my next book."
A lucky find, one that I first read about 7 years ago.
I don't know how I've missed this thread, but I love to reread and will come back!
I had started rereading Jane Eyre for the first time since my teens, but I got diverted. It's still there, and I will pick it up again. What I remember is the romance (!) and the strength of Jane herself.
>100 bohemima: Volumes to purge, Gail? Gives me shivers!
>98 laytonwoman3rd: So, instead of The Ivy Tree, which feels like I read it fairly recently, I decided to take up The Moon-Spinners instead, and have finished it for the BAC. However, now I'm not at all sure I ever read it before! Most of what I thought I remembered about it came from the movie version, which is very different, I see.
I was going to re-read The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer's debut novel that's now considered a minor classic. My recollection has been that I read it in an American lit class in college. I have the old old paperback, but it has no notes or underlining or any evidence of scholarly reading. *snork* I read a hardcover edition I got cheap in the last year, and you know? I didn't recognize anything in the whole 600+ pages. I don't know.... Don't think it was a re-read, just a first read.
Got to try something else. Hahaha.
Re-reading Let the Right One In, Swedish vampire novel from a few years back. It popped up as available on Overdrive and I checked it out on a whim.
At the end of January I re-read a short book for its timeliness. The first time I read it was shortly after it was published (in book form), which was in the middle of George W. Bush's presidency. No explanation of why a book titled On Bullshit was then an appropriate read any more than why a re-read is appropriate now.
On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it....
With this opening statement, Harry Frankfurt, professor of philosophy emeritus at Princeton U., begins his inquiry into "what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves...My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not…."
Originally published in 1986 in the journal Raritan Quarterly Review, this essay was published in book form in 2005, making it easily available to lay readers. It's just an itty bitty thing, slightly smaller than a mass-market paperback, and running only to 67 pages. But it spent nearly a half-year on the New York Times Best Seller List. Philosophers, it seems, are not alone in their interest in bullshit. And given the character of the current U. S. president and the Republican Party in general, now is the time to poke around in it.
It is surreal: A serious, academic analysis of the term "bullshit," defining it, differentiating it from possible synonyms, and focusing on applications and intent. Frankfurt concludes that neither truth nor falsity are the focus of bullshit. Rather, persuasion is the focus. A liar typically knows the truth and endeavors to misrepresent it convincingly. But a bullshitter is indifferent to truth, casually mixing fact and fiction to achieve his or her goal. Truth is beside the point.
My book club discussed Jane Eyre today. One person had never read it before. All enjoyed the book, mostly commenting on what an independent spirit Jane had, which would have been highly unusual for the times.
Now would be a really good time to read The Eyre Affair if you haven't. ;-)
Great minds, Roni. I have read it, and it is the next book for our book club. I will reread because it's been years. I also have The Madwoman Upstairs from the library...
>106 weird_O: That is a great review, Bill. Thanks for posting it. It sounds like an interesting read!
>100 bohemima: I love serendipitous (re)finds like that, Gail.
I was looking through my shelf at work yesterday and saw my copy of My Name is Asher Lev. That is one of the books I have said I might reread this year. I have a couple of library books that I must get through but then I think that one is next. I hardly remember it from the first time I read it which was probably in the 1980s (or even the 1970s).
I haven't been keeping up with this thread as well as I should but I love how folks are just taking the initiative to make a note here and there when they reread something.
19. Jane Eyre is a novel I have read many times. Perhaps this time, there has been the longest gap between reads. One thing I question on this reading is the ending. It ends with St. John, which is curious. Jane goes from "Reader, I married him," to a discussion of St. John's faith. Curious.
I still think the huge attraction for me is Jane's strong sense of self. She never bows to authority when she thinks it's in the wrong, even though she is really in no position to resist. Wonderful novel.
We read this for our book club and had the best attendance ever. Most agreed that Jane's independence is the big attraction.
It's due a reread for me too Beth. But never having read Wide Sargasso Sea (which received mixed reviews elsewhere recently), I want to read that first as it was written as a prequel.
Interesting, I don't remember the St John bit, and I've read it twice. Ha, will stay alert next reading.
I will be rereading Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer this month. This is one of my least-liked Regencies by this author but Liz (lyzard) points out that it is one of the books written later in her career when she was ill. Still, it is next in her chronological read-through of Heyer's romances and I do not remember it well enough to remember why I didn't like it that much, so read it I will.
I started re-reading My Name is Asher Lev last night. I don't really remember it from the first reading which was at least two decades ago. I just have positive associations with it. So far, it is excellent.
I re-read Watchmen last month, with the result that it stood up pretty well.
When I say unregulated, I guess I really mean unregulated, eh? This post is partly just to bump the thread, keep it going.
>118 LovingLit: I'm glad My Name is Asher Lev stood up to the reread, Megan! As you know, I LOVED this book. It will stick with me for a long time.
>119 drneutron: Oh good, Jim. I'm pleased that folks are finding rereads that hold up to the test of time and memory.
One book that I had in mind early in the conception of this thread is Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I read it in 1981 when I was in Poland for 3 months. I remember it so well (the reading of it, not so much the story itself) because that was a standout time in my life. I was there when Martial Law was declared, right in the heart of the Solidarność movement, and I learned so much about the world. I was just 21 years old and had never really experienced anything outside my small town in central Florida. Anyway, I know I read it during that time and loved it but I don't remember much about it. I will get to it this summer for sure.
Oh, shoot, I let this drop out of consciousness! I've been doing some rereading, mostly because my other books are going slowly and I wanted some fun reading. Since >116 ronincats:, my fifth reread of the year was the second book in the Incryptid series by Seanan McGuire, also for an online book club. But since then, just for fun, I've reread Crown of Renewal, the fifth and final book of the series following the Paksennarion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon. I love this fantasy series, and since I reread all the prior books in the series before (or often after reading the new one, and reading the new one again after), this is the one I have read the least of them all and the one I recalled the least. So it was wonderful fun to visit this final book once more.
And then, spurred on by comments in other threads and having a slow time getting through The Three-Body Problem and my ER book, I picked up just for pleasure McKinley's Beauty and then her 20 years later re-retelling Rose Daughter. I just love her writing.
>124 ronincats: Your post brings to mind a question I have, Roni. Or maybe it's not so much a question as a musing. It seems that there are lots of reasons for rereading a work. Perhaps the two I have heard the most about are 1. that it is remembered as having had a big emotional impact and therefore seems worth revisiting, or 2. it is a comfort read, a fun read that serves one of the most central functions of reading which is to relieve stress and derive pleasure.
Are there other reasons for rereading a work?
Sure, Ellen. As I approach the end of the school year, I'm looking at a blank slate for summer reading! I'll pencil in July for Song of Solomon.
Reasons for rereading. I know when I read some books that there is so much going on, that I need to reread to get the most out of it. As I was reading Kafka on the Shore, I had that feeling. There have been others, as well.
I Agee with the three reasons for rereading: comfort read, revisiting a book wth an impact, and trying, perhaps, to make more sense out of a complex read. I might add in the case of nonfiction, to make sure one remembers the facts and theories correctly.
Honestly, my mind lately is sieve-like. I put Cranford on a handy bench, looked at it from time to time...and there it still sits. It will provide a good read for a summer day, I think.
I did reread The Dreaming Suburb by Delderfield. As Peggy said about the author (over on her thread), this is the way I read 50 years ago. No sly wit; no unconventional ideas or literary forms; and in this case, not much even of a plot. Instead it's a big book about a long-ago time, rather heavily romanticized, but soothing to nerves jangled by our dread modern situation. I didn't realize years ago that these books, however sweet, are fairly empty of anything else. No matter: I enjoyed the break from more challenging things.
I am just stopping in to report (shockingly!) that I have not picked up a single re-read so far this year. Louise Erdrich...I promise!
This is great and it's resonating perfectly for me right now. It has been unplanned (which fits for this "challenge") but I've started back into the Travis McGee series by John D MacDonald. Currently reading Nightmare in Pink and loving it; last year's reread of The Deep Blue Goodbye did not inspire me so I'm glad I'm giving the series another chance. This series was my absolute favorite during my late teen reading years and represents my first foray into the mystery genre. And the books are set in Florida where I grew up.
^Thanks for posting that question on my thread, as well, Roni. I have not read The Girl, the Gold Watch, & Everything but I have now put downloaded it to my Kindle from the library. It won't qualify as a reread but all the Travis McGee books will!
Well, I finished my re-read of Their Eyes Were Watching God,which is still brilliant. I just love the way Hurston gives a voice to Janie, who is looking for a way to define her own life, relationships and to find love. The use of dialect is amazing.
Nightmare in Pink by John D. MacDonald
This second installment in the Travis McGee series is a reread for me. It's the usual fun (leave your feminist sensibilities at the door and remember that it was originally published in 1964) with a hallucinogenic angle. It kept me up past my bedtime finishing it, which is what I remember from my teens and twenties reading this series. I'll continue with the next installment, A Purple Place for Dying.
I have been forgetting to report my re-reads here but since February I have re-read Little Men by Louisa May Alcott and it still remains an all time favorite. I have also re-read the historical fiction novel The Hearth and the Eagle by Anya Seton, but found that I much prefer some of her other works. This month I re-read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and loved it.
I re-read the whole Tillerman Cycle by Cynthia Voigt, and loved to read again about Dicey, James, Maybeth and Sammy Tillerman and others around them.
I finished my re-read of Their Eyes Were Watching God a few days ago. My first and only other read of it was my junior year in high school (so about 16 years old), and I remember being awed by it. I even remember the name of the paper I wrote about it :)
This time, while I could still appreciate it, it lacked something for me. And I had some issues with Janie and Tea Cake's relationship. But some of the writing is just beautiful, and I was glad to have re-visited it.
I re-read The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. I originally read this in high school, but found that I remembered very little of the novella. It is actually four separate stories linked by the main character, a pre-adolescent boy called Jody. These coming-of-age tales all seem to share a theme of grief and disappointment but in Steinbeck's capable hands this was a magical read.
And I re-read The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. It should hardly count as a re-read, though, as I remembered so few of the details. It ws good, and creepy. I was struck by how much of the story was internal, and took place in a very restricted environment, despite being really a political story.
>140 katiekrug: Katie, you can't leave us hanging like that. What was the name of the paper??
I thought about doing a reread of Their Eyes Were Watching God but felt like I should read at least a second of her works. Ultimately, I'm glad I read Dust Tracks on a Road.
>141 DeltaQueen50: I remember reading The Red Pony back in school, too, Judy. Thanks for your brief description. This is one Steinbeck that I didn't read back when Ilana and I were doing our Steinbeck-athon (2012? can it be that long ago?) and now I'm kind of interested. He is, as you say, such an amazing writer, one of my favorites.
>142 banjo123: Ooh, that is a good one to revisit, Rhonda. I read The Handmaid's Tale back in the late 1980s, I think and I remember some but certainly not all of it. Your comment about how much of the story is internal is interesting as I don't have a sense of that in my memory. But then, what I remember is the basic premise and the mood.
>143 BLBera: Well, Beth, for both you and Rhonda I will say that I'm glad rereads count even if you don't remember much about what you read the first time! I would count The Bean Trees among my all-time favorite novels and when I reread it I was struck by how little of it I actually remembered. The decades do what the decades do....
And to that point, I am a little more than halfway through Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie and it's nothing like what I recalled! Clearly, I recalled very little about it other than its setting. His descriptions of Seattle are both accurate and specific, but I wonder if they are distracting for non-Seattleites to read.
This essay about the joys of rereading was in this morning's Seattle Times. I quite enjoyed it and it has renewed my interest in the rereading challenge.
This month I will be rereading Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon. I first read it in the fall of 1981 when I was in Poland. My father was on a Fulbright teaching in Kraków and I delayed my senior year of college to join him. Also along for the trip were his then-wife (she was number two of three and the most disastrous of the bunch, not due to her own shortcomings) and her two daughters, respectively 1 and 4 years younger than me. Due to a last-minute decision to join the party and the time it took to get a visa to the Soviet bloc country, I arrived about a week later than they; the marriage had already disintegrated and I spent the next 3 months living with the other three women while my dad rented a small studio apartment on the black market. The American dollar was incredibly powerful in that time and place. We four women departed when Martial Law was declared that December; Dad stayed under the auspices and protection of the American consulate. His presence was official while the rest of us were essentially tourists so the consulate encouraged us to take our leave. So much was unknown.
ANYWAY, I don't remember anything about Song of Solomon other than that it completely engaged me, capturing my attention at a time when I had nothing but free time and was pretty isolated emotionally. I remember loving the novel. So I'm very much looking forward to this reread.
>146 EBT1002: I'm nearly finished with what I'm sure is a re-read of The Maltese Falcon. I vaguely remember the story as it goes along, but the novel doesn't feel familiar, if that makes sense. I know I've seen the movie too, but I don't have much specific recollection of that either. It must be over 40 years since I read this book (and all the other Dashiell Hammett novels, which I don't think I'll be revisiting any time soon).
>148 Caroline_McElwee: "I've read The Great Gatsby around 35 times..."
Impressive, Caroline. I've read it twice and that is probably it for me. :-)
>149 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, I really want to read The Maltese Falcon a first time, Linda! And your comment about the novel not feeling familiar, despite your familiarity with the story, makes total sense to me. Reading is its own experience.
I recently reread an old favorite with Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes. I discovered this author in my teens and whipped through all her books. It was nice to find that I still enjoyed her writing and although the story is pretty black and white I still found it a fun read.
Currently I am listening to Persuasion by Jane Austen. I originally read this book for an English class in high school. I love Jane Austen and this audio read by Juliet Stevenson is excellent.
73. Song of Solomon is a lovely, lyrical novel that is pure poetry. But if the language beautiful, the panoramic view of Black lives is breathtaking. We see young, old, rich, poor, all connected by the experience of race. And in this novel, we see race as being informed by rootlessness and societal limitations. And unfortunately, in the forty years since this novel was published it's obvious that some things have not changed: "Each man in that room knew he was subject to being picked up as he walked the street and whatever his proof of who he was and where he was at the time of the murder, he'd have a very uncomfortable time being questioned."
Morrison shows the importance of history and names. Macon Dead lost his name when a soldier made a mistake filling in a form. His son shares his name, but has no knowledge of his family or his past: "As the son of Macon Dead the first, he paid homage to his own father's life and death by loving what that father had loved...He loved these things to excess because he loved his father to excess. Owning, building, acquiring--that was his life, his future, his present, and all the history he knew. That he distorted life, bent it, for the sake of gain, was a measure of his loss at his father's death."
The missing past, in part caused by slavery, distorts and damages many of the characters. Yet the novel is hopeful. The answer lies with the children.
My comments can't really do this novel justice. I am so glad I reread this novel. I'm sure I will come back to it again.
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
This beautiful early novel by one of our greatest modern novelists is a gem. With subtle elements of magical realism throughout, it is the story of the Dead family and most particularly the story of Macon "Milkman" Dead, the grandson of the first Macon Dead who obtained his name through a weird twist of drunken fate at the time of emancipation. Moving back and forth in time, illuminating the power of even unknown family past in shaping lives, and poignantly exploring the deep ties of family, friendship, and place, the novel remains remarkably timely even 40 years after its first publication. I'm so glad I reread this one.
>155 EBT1002: I read this one before-LT, but I really would love to read it again.
After the sad death of Sam Shepard I pulled an old favourite collection of semi-autobiographical stories and poems from the shelf: Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon, probably its 5th re-read. I've always liked the 'Motel Chronicles' book best, but there are some interesting pieces in the 'Hawk Moon' book too. Dark and sometimes violent, but there is something in Shepard's eye that captures elements of his characters that so often get missed. There is an honesty.
>156 thornton37814: I encourage a reread of Song of Solomon, Lori. It has kept well over the years.
>157 Caroline_McElwee: and >158 Caroline_McElwee: I have not read Motel Chronicles, Caroline, but it looks interesting.
I'm about to engage in a light reread, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, for my RLBG. I read it many years ago and remember it as an enjoyable read. Perfect for squeezing in among the rather serious reads I seem to have mostly committed to for August.
I re-read Tuck Everlasting this afternoon, and it was still wonderful. I seem to be making a habit of re-reading childhood favorites on quiet weekends. Last weekend, it was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler which I also enjoyed revisiting. In both cases, I had vaguely fond memories of both books from childhood but didn't remember much of the actual characters or plot.
>159 EBT1002: I really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society too Ellen, I think I've read it twice, and expect to read it again sometime. It has the comfort read quality, whilst also having some serious things to say.
I just ordered the most recent book by Sam Shepard, so I'll report once read. There may be one more. Patti Smith worked with him on his final manuscript, and I'm not sure if the book I ordered is it, or if there is another to follow.
>161 Caroline_McElwee: I think The One Inside is Sam Shepard's final book. Some fine writing, and thought provoking stuff.
Just finished what is either a third or fourth reread of May Sarton's wonderful memoir Plant Dreaming Deep. One of those books I never want to be without. I bought my copy 24 years ago. Rereads are all of books whose tone has snagged me. The books have become places. I occupy their rooms.
In August I finished my re-reads of the Little Women books with Jo's Boys. Although dated and with a little too much moralizing, I still enjoyed this closing book. The first book, Little Women is still the best, but the others keep one in touch with beloved characters and are therefore worthwhile reads.
This month I am going to be re-reading Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow. This is another author I discovered in my teens and promptly gobbled up all her books so I am looked forward to re-visiting and seeing what the great attraction originally was.
>164 laytonwoman3rd: I remember loving Jubilee Trail when I was in high school. I'll be keen to see how it lands on you now, Judy. Maybe I'll try to track down a copy for a re-read myself. I can't remember if I read any other books by Bristow, although a couple of her titles do sound vaguely familiar.
Thanks for keeping this thread warm while I totally neglected it, my friends! I am swimming in books that I've never read before but I will be back before long.
I've just started listening to Good Omens. The first time through several years ago was as a paper read; so far it's a good listen, although I wish Gaiman was the narrator!
I also have a copy of Little Women on the TBR pile from the library. I read it in 5th grade - oh dear - 50+ years ago (that sentence doesn't even make sense to me, much less seem possible). The RLBC is reading March this month, so I thought a reread of LW would not be bad idea.
>166 DeltaQueen50: I love that you can read Jubilee Trail with that adult critical eye but still enjoy the ride that you recall from your teens, Judy.
>167 streamsong: Oh, I like that idea of listening to something I read years ago. I'm going to think about that for this last quarter of the year.
I loved March much more than Little Women but I assume it's because I didn't read the latter until well into adulthood. I found the idea of taking a more minor character and telling the story from their POV to be very interesting.
Amazing to think this was written in 1932. I think I appreciate the issues Huxley brings up more today than when I first read it.
>169 BLBera: I haven't read that one since high school, I think. I should probably give it another go given our current state of affairs.
I think you would get much more out of it today; it's one of those books wasted on high school, I think. There are so many layers.
>170 EBT1002: A kind of SOMA Holiday, rereading that. I reread it several years ago, long after reading it in college.
As time goes on (spoken like a true "acknowledging ageing" person here), I really feel that there is so much value in a reread. I was all about reading *everything* I wanted (mainly new to me books) a few years ago, but now after reading these comments, and the few rereads I have done, I really can see that new and subtle things emerge from another read.
Which reminds me, I haven't read something for this challenge yet! I must.
>173 LovingLit: Well, you'll have an opportunity, Megan. I believe there is a group of folks gradually committing to a shared reread of The Great Gatsby in December, just in time to close out the year. I have already put it on hold at the library with a built-in pause so I'll get a copy the first week of December.
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