Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Re: Reader

Thru all my AP tests; thru all my English optional reading list; thru all the Top 100 books to read lists -- I have created a list of the books I should read. The books the reappear on all these lists. The "Classics."

But after reading Nabokov's piece ['Good Readers and Writers'], I wonder if it would be more beneficial to me as a reader...and as a abandon my list for a bit and go back and reread books. 

As a consumer of books, would I be doing an injustice to those long ago critically acclaimed authors by leaving them behind for a reread of 'Where the Red Fern Grows' or ' Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close'? Part of me feels this need to read those books constantly alluded to; those books always mentioned. And I feel like now is the time I can do that. But if I do read these 'classics', what am I giving up in the process? Does reading a lot of books make someone a better reader, because they are more comfortable with writing? Or does reading a select number of books..reread them, reread them, reread them...make someone a better reader?

I think the main question any of us have to ask ourselves [as readers of any type of text] is do we want to allow ourselves the time to reread?


  1. I think it is harder to reread because there are so many books yet to read and information yet to learn. The internet has put so much information at our fingertips. There is an economic crisis going on, who has time to be caught up on current events and reread?

    I also have a "books to read" list that is growing steadily, but revisiting my favorite high school characters with a new college perspective would be interesting. There are so many people who read the same book multiple times, loving it more each time.

    I think there has to be a median between rereading and reading. Both can offer enjoyment and insight. Isn't that what reading is all about? I am not as interested in becoming a better reader as being a happy reader.

  2. I have a book list too that extends to forever. When I walk through the public library, I spend most of my time pointing to the books I want to read, still have to read, was told to read, heard it was a good idea to read...,and I wonder how about the books I have already read and forgotten?

    I am not sure which is better, to read or reread. What I do know is that when we read we are looking for something, or if we really loved a book, then it is because we found something in that book that made a mark. As time goes on, that mark begins to fade away, and we forget the little details that made the book stand out in the first place. My freshman year in high school, I reread Ann Frank's Diary instead of reading Pride and Prejudiced. Till today, I have not read Pride and Prejudice, but I appreciate Ann Franks Diary more than I did the first time I read it. Making the choice between reading a new book and rereading a previously read book is a difficult decision we will each have to make based on our varying views on literary worth.

  3. I wish I were able to allow myself the time to reread, definitely. It's a little greedy, the way we kind of want to devour new things without truly savoring or studying them in depth. (Incidentally, someone has been recommending 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' to me for years and I haven't read it yet!) Obviously Nabokov isn't pithy (or folksy?) enough to say "quality over quantity" but I think that was his point in highlighting the value of rereading for a scholar and also in quoting Flaubert, who said that "What a scholar one might be if one knew well only some half a dozen books." To borrow his words from the end of the piece, I guess one castle of beautiful steel and glass is worth more than ten castles of mere cards.

  4. Re-reading is something I'd like to do in theory--I mean, I keep the books I've already read for a reason, right? However, I've only re-read a few books. One I re-read last semester was a mystery book that I was completely obsessed with 4 years ago when I read it the first time. I didn't really analyze each sentence any closer than before but it was interesting to see how the plot differed from my memory and the things I picked up on at 18 but not at 14.