Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Reading and Rereading

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I know that many of you have probably already started getting into the mood of summer reading, and with all of these extra hours of daylight, why not? But I’d like to make an amendment or a humble suggestion to my fellow book-lovers out there on a way to augment your summer reading that I’ve found exhilarating since I started doing it several years back. Each summer now when I get the bug to start some summer reading I stop myself a moment from the usual need to conquer a completely new novel or story and instead opt to reread a book I’ve previously read, maybe from even years earlier.

I know what some of you might be thinking. Aren’t there a zillion books already out there? Why use your precious time reading over something you already know? It may sound counterintuitive, but give me a moment to explain. The great thing about your favorite books is that unlike a news article or even a movie, you can continue to see it anew and delve into the story as you never before could. Also, by taking yourself out of that normal conquest mode we sometime get into with a new book (i.e. I got to take it all in, figure out the plot, and get to the end of the book), you can just relax and enjoy the story from a perspective that can only be reached by rereading.

Look at it as meditating on a larger scale. Pick out a favorite book from your shelves that you haven’t read in a while and give it a go. See what emotions and ideas it brings up. Then try a book from your shelves that you enjoy, but make sure it’s a long one. I know, sounds counterintuitive again, but try it. Really give yourself over to an epic or two and dissolve into its pages. Then once you’ve done this and really gotten into the rereading mood, try rereading a book that wasn’t a favorite of yours. It doesn’t have to be something you disliked, just something you felt indifferent about. It may not always work, but I find that half the time I end up really liking a book I previously couldn’t get into as easy, because I simply wasn’t in the right state of mind for it. You can of course modify this basic process for yourself as we all read at different paces, and maybe you’d prefer to alternate between an old book and a new book during the summer. But for now, just go ahead and try it. As a major lover of books myself, I’ve found summer rereading to be one of the most rewarding pastimes ever and constantly urge others to give it a go and see what they think for themselves. After all, what have you got to lose?