I'm a huge re-reader. I re-read therefore I am. I cannot imagine going through my life reading each book just once. Never forming such an attachment to a character or group of characters that at some point down the road I find myself having to return and walk with them once more. I know that, as Tom Stoppard said, "I'm going to be dead before I read the books I'm going to read." But I don't care. Or at least not enough to change my ways. I could as soon give up re-reading as breathing. So it was with much delight that I came across this piece in the New York Times, "Some Thoughts on the Pleasures of Being a Re-reader." The author describes his rereading library:
It’s a miscellaneous library, always shifting. It has included a book of the north woods: John J. Rowlands’s “Cache Lake Country,” which I have re-read annually for many years. It may still include Raymond Chandler, though I won’t know for sure till the next time I re-read him. It includes Michael Herr’s “Dispatches” and lots of A.J. Liebling and a surprising amount of George Eliot. It once included nearly all of Dickens, but that has been boiled down to “The Pickwick Papers” and “Great Expectations.” There are many more titles, of course. This is not a canon. This is a refuge.
I adore that. A refuge. That is exactly how my collection of books I re-read regularly feels. They're not what I should read, necessarily, but what I have to read. They're the books that last, that remind me everything's going to be okay, that there are entire worlds on the other side of a wardrobe door, that Lizzie and Darcy will forgive each other, that Huw's valley was once so very green. I love how he talks about "savory re-reading," the kind in which you already know how it all plays out and so you're able to just drink in the language itself, the turn of phrase, the emotions evoked, the simple location of the words on the pages themselves. I love it all. And I love reading about others who feel that way too.
(Thanks to A Curiosity Shop for the link!)