I have a friend who says, “I only buy a book after I’ve read it,” which might not make sense to some, but rings true to me.
I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be my year to re-read books. Like my friend, I love to purchase books that I love, but unlike her I haven’t always read them first. That leaves me with shelves upon shelves of books that fall somewhere on the spectrum of “This changed my life” to “I didn’t make it past page 14 and I can’t believe so many trees died for this thing.”
And as much as I love trees, I just can’t curl up with the digital word as much as I can with a good old-fashioned book, the sound of my fingers thumbing the page, eager to turn it and keeping my husband up late at night under the dim light of the worthless booklight which is directly responsible for my failing eyesight. Age has nothing to do with it, I’m certain.
So I have books. A lot of books. Enough books that will bring concern when we ever go to move, because although there are some I could part with, there are quite a few that have shaped me, taught me, or at the very least, made me smile. If anyone is ever wondering which ones those are, check the margins. Because every book I have loved I’ve scribbled all over, underlining passages or putting stars next to lines as if I was studying for some exam of life. “Use a highlighter,” my husband says. “Barbarian,” I respond.
I once wrote an article for a magazine about re-reading books that got quoted elsewhere which made me feel pretty fancy, like someone had actually read it and jotted a star next to these sentences. “So as a writer who needs to read, a reader that wants to read, and a mother who has little time to read, what does one do? For me, I’ve started diving into my bookshelf, reading old favorites. Some of them aren’t so spectacular the second time around, others have stood the test of time.”
(Apparently this isn’t the first time I’ve decided to re-read my old books.”)
But in my wisdom is some funky little bit of wisdom that surprises even me like a self-tickle that made me flinch. With the four seconds of free time I have per day and a growing list of library fines, leisurely reading isn’t in the cards these days. Someday, hopefully. But now, not so much.
So I’ll re-read. I’ll thumb the pages of my past this year, re-learning and re-feeling and re-thinking, and flick flick flicking the pages of these books, my old friends.
Originally written 1.15.17