Wednesday, July 13, 2011

To Re-Read, or Not

Unless you've been on an extended space walk, I imagine you know Friday is opening day for the final installment of the Harry Potter movies. To prepare, the kids and I have been watching the earlier movies. I also thought I might brush up on the books, because when they first came out, I read them so fast (to find out what happened) that now I don't really remember some of the details. For the last book, actually, my memory of the major plot events is pretty sketchy.

I started re-reading the first book in the series, but I haven't made much progress over the first couple of days. It's not because I don't like the book; Sorcerer's Stone is actually a book that gives me a lot of pleasure; I think it is so well-edited and so imaginative. The problem is that I keep having this nagging feeling that I ought to be spending my sparse reading time on something new that I've never read before. There are all kinds of books on the shelves in this house that I've not read yet; shouldn't I reduce that TBR pile instead of going back to the same story I already know?

This is something I nag my daughter about all the time. I can't tell you how many times that child has read Princess Academy by Shannon Hale or the Warriors books by Erin Hunter. I'm glad she has favorite books, but I keep telling her she needs to expand her reading horizons. There are so many classics out there and so many good new books that she will miss out on if she just keeps reading the same thing over and over. I don't seem to be having much success with this campaign, by the way.

Another acquaintance once said she never re-reads a book. She said there are too many books in the world to spend time going back. I agree with her on the point that there are many worthwhile stories I'd like to read, but I also see the appeal of revisiting a book. It's the tension between getting back in touch with good old friends or meeting someone new. Both have value and can add pleasure to our lives.

I guess one thing that is bogging me down this time is the knowledge that Sorcerer's Stone is the first of a lengthy series. If I start on it now, it's likely to take me the rest of the year to finish (given what I have waiting for me this fall when school starts again - ugh). That means no chances to meet interesting new friends - and I had interest in "dates" with several characters. As much as I love Harry Potter, I don't want to miss out on meeting Mr. Darcy for the first time.

My compromise for the time being is to read the last three books in the series. They are the most complicated in the series and the ones I tend to confuse. And maybe I can finish with enough time to get to Mr. Darcy.

What do you think? Do you re-read or stick to books that are new to you?

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