I’m getting so old and have been doing this blog thing long enough now that I can’t honestly remember if I’ve asked you readers that question before. But I’m the boss around here, even if I am slightly senile, and some of you folks are new enough that you probably haven’t answered the question for me yet.
I’m also so old and feeble that I never managed to fire up WordPress and promote the final throw-down post over on Liv Rancourt’s blog! So before you sit down to read what I think about rereading, go find out who Liv and I think Sookie should end up with.
Are you back? Good.
So, rereading. When I was a kid, I read Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague (and sequels—and all her other horse-books) about a hundred times. I remember my dad asking why I reread books.
“Why read them again?” he asked. “The story doesn’t change.”
I shrugged, unable to articulate why I wanted to read the books again, being eight and all. “I just like them,” I said.
That still holds, but I realize now (nineteen-and-a-half years later) that there’s more to it than just liking. The books I reread are not necessarily by my favorite writers, and they’re not necessarily works I would call influential on my style.
Rather, they have two main factors drawing me back:
1. A world a want to live in. Take Harry Potter. Littered with adverbs and simplistic metaphors, J. K. Rowling’s work can actually have a bad influence on my own writing, so I’m not rereading it for my career health. No, I reread these books because I would love living in this world. I want to go to Hogwarts. I want a wand. I want to dance like a hippogriff!
2. Characters I want to spend time with. I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in the world of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. It’s our world, but certain people can time travel… and as much as I love reading historical fiction, I probably wouldn’t get along too well in the 1700s. But her characters—Claire, Jamie, Jenny, Brianna, Roger, even gangly Young Ian—are charming folks I’d love to call friends. And while I love Gabaldon’s writing style, my attempts to imitate it (and her process) are partly responsible for the steaming mass of incoherent plot that are my first novel.
But what about the books I love, but don’t reread? A Farewell to Arms, The Great Gatsby, The Crystal Cave, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (which I have reread, just not lately and not often). The list goes on and on.
Sometimes those books have had a major influence on me and on my writing, like A Farewell to Arms and The Great Gatsby. Sometimes they remind me of painful times in my life, like The Crystal Cave. And sometimes they’re just too depressing (*coughMartincough*).
So what books make your rereading list? Why those particular books, and not others?
Here’s my re-reading list:
- Harry Potter series
- Jane Austen’s complete works
- Anne of Green Gables series
- Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books
- Possession by A. S. Byatt
- Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series
- James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small works
Other books make the list, but not the annual list. It’s a wonder I ever manage to read anything new…