Monday, November 7, 2011

the beauty of rereading

I love to read. I read a lot.  As a kid, I didn't read from a sense of advancement or learning; I read because I loved it... and it's still true today. I feel about bookstores the way some people feel about shoe stores. I could spend all day there combing the isles and scanning the tables. A window display of books can stop me in the street.

I just read How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen. 
In this book she says, "For some of us, reading begets rereading, and rereading begets writing. (Although there is no doubt which is first, and supreme; as Alberto Manguel writes in his wonderful A History of Reading, 'I could perhaps live without writing. I don't think I could live without reading.') After a while a story is familiar, the setting known, the characters understood, and there is nothing left to discover but technique. Why that sentence structure and not something simpler, or more complex? Why that way of ordering events instead of something more straightforward, or more experimental? What grabs the reader by the throat? What sags and bags and fails? There are only two ways, really, to become a writer. One is to write. The other is to read."

My daughter is a writer. She reads with a love stronger than my own. She is also a re-reader. She has read pseudonymous bosch so many times that she begins to have his voice, his lilt, his sarcastic wit.

Because of the way I speak, people often ask me if I'm from the south. I think I've just read and reread To Kill a Mockingbird so many times that Harper Lee and Scout (Jean Louise Finch) have become part of me.

Anna Quindlen gives us a wonderful reminder: never discourage rereading. It is from that familiarity that structure can be seen and admired, interpreted and adopted.

"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home." 
~ Anna Quindlen


  1. Love. Your posts make me want to be a better person and, at the same time, reassure me that I am on the right track exactly where I am and should not give up, should keep moving forward. They inspire, put things in perspective, encourage and remind me to seek the good in my life, in humanity. If I were to write an encyclopedia of my life, your blog would be filed under "F" for Favorite Things. Thank you!

  2. Wow! Such a wonderful compliment!
    Thank you :)
    You are too kind. The admiration is mutual.
    Love, p