My friend Jacques over Christmas said he was reading Hemingway’s Movable Feast I’m assuming not for the first time (he’s a big reader).
Another friend was tearing through Middlemarch, George Eliot’s famed opus for the 3rd time. An impressive feat I might add.
My library at home only has books that I might read again and a few that I do annually like Pride & Prejudice and Eat Pray Love. The second may surprise you, but I like it for its candor that for whatever reason jump starts mine. She opens with…
tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth, so you can see more or less why I’m sold.
I also have Jean Kerr living by my bedside so I can down an essay or two before falling asleep. Who’s Jean Kerr? Just one of the most funniest women who ever picked up a pen. If David Sedaris was married to a respected writer and drama critic in the 50s and 60s named Walter, he might have been Jean, just shorter.
Presently I’m rereading all of Anne Lamott’s nonfiction, savoring every word.
But back to my question…why am I?
Why do we reread books over and over again? It’s not as if we don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing will change the 3rd and 4th time around. When there’s so much new prose to be had, why do we still reach for the old?
Is it comfort…to rest in the familiar, lazing amid the works of a favorite author? Let’s take Movable Feast for instance. Is it because we get to go to Paris and be around all those clever, quirky people without even having to pack?
I knew Movable Feast was why I loved Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris so much. He resurrected Ernest so it was almost like seeing the book on its feet even though it had its own text; Scott and Zelda, Gertrude and Alice…I reread it again after I saw the film then watched it a second time when I finished the book.
I was simply parlez vousing all over the place.
I find I only read Jane Austen when it’s hot. Her pace seems to go well with the heat and idleness that summer brings. I cry every time Lizzie finally admits to her doting father how much she loves Mr. Darcy, even after calling him such mean, delicious names. When they say love and hate shares a seam, they’re not kidding.
I can’t really answer my own question though, can I? But maybe you can.
What I do know is this…books are like old friends that, despite how long it’s been, you’re always happy to see. Maybe they’re even like old lovers…they nestle in your lap already knowing its special nooks and curves awaiting that purr.
All needs are met as you start from the very beginning.