I hate starting a new book. But I love to read. I love to be in a book, fighting the battle between oh my god what happens next and savor savor savor. You know that feeling?
I love to be under the spell. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities while sitting on the patio between 11th and 12th grade and moving the book closer and closer to my face as the light dimmed with the setting sun, unwilling to break the spell before Dickens did. I remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird in the tub and letting the water run cold, unwilling to break the spell before Harper Lee did.
I love that. Love it. It is a great joy of my life.
But, man, starting a book is a chore. I take no pleasure in introduction. I'm not one of those people who cracks open a book eagerly. Beginnings are work. But once I'm in, I'm your best friend. I will love you so much I'll sit naked and chilly in a cold bath, I'll find a way to read in the dark.
This is probably why I love to re-read books. I love to pick up a book that I loved and remind myself of why I loved it. Over the weekend I re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude and found it just as weird and beautiful and sad and gorgeous as I did the first time I read it, but I was liberated from the what happens next battle, because I knew what happened next. Reading that book at 20 is a real different experience than reading it 46. I know. I've done it both ways.
I've read To Kill A Mockingbird a dozen times, at least. I've read Middlemarch four times. I've only read Ragtime once, but I intend to read it again this year. I've read Gone With the Wind four or five times, but never as grown-ass woman, because I'm not sure I could take all those happy slaves - but I'm sort of interested in revisiting Scarlett now because I suspect she may be a real feminist hero. Great Expectations is an old friend that I have visited a few times. I spent last Sunday on the couch, hanging out with Bridget Jones for the third time. Lonesome Dove? Read it at least 5 times. I've made my way through the Harry Potter series three times. Maybe four.
It's not just the comfort of the familiar. We might not ever really change, but we do grow and the books we love grow with us. There's value in it. I love it. Plus it's so much easier than starting a new book. I'm lazy. I can live with it.
Some of the other big readers I know don't re-read because there are too many books out there they haven't read at all. I get that. And I admire that. But I hate starting a new book. I love revisiting an old one.
While I live, I'll read. And I don't plan to regret what I haven't read.
When the lights go out, I won't mourn Moby Dick (I tried, man, I did. That book is boring) or Proust. Maybe Proust. I would like to read Proust. But, really, when the bill comes due, I'd like to pay it while reading the Circle of Prydain. Those were the first books I really loved. And I have read those five books 20 times. And I hope to read them 20 more while I breathe air. I hope they're the last thing I read.
That said, recommend some books to me - I'll read them. I hate to start books. But eventually, you get in them. They'll never be The Book of Three, but they may make the re-read list.