Sunday, 23 October 2016

Revisiting old friends

Every now and then, I like to dig out old favourite books and reread them. My husband doesn't understand this -- to him, you read a book once, or watch a movie once, and then you're done and never do it again. On to other things. For this reason he doesn't understand why there are certain books I purchase and keep, instead of just getting them from the library. But to me, if the book spoke to me, I want to revisit it now and then. If I found a person I liked, wouldn't I want to speak to them occasionally? Well then, it's like that with me and particular books.

Right now I'm indulging in The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley. I've read it probably four times, and I'll likely read it again periodically. It's escapist, I know, but especially on dark winter days, what better thing to do than escape? I also frequent the Martha Grimes mysteries, Laurie King, Robin and Rosamunde Pilcher, Alan Bradley, Louise Penny, and Charles Todd. Occasionally I throw in some Desi Kennedy gardening books, Barney Bardsley, or any of the multitudinous self-sufficiency and homesteading books I own. You know the ones -- they teach you how to build everything from an outhouse to a hammered dulcimer and how to do anything from making maple syrup to delivering a calf. If I'm ever stranded in the woods with nothing but a pocket knife, I'll be fine so long as I have those books with me.

My husband bought me a Kindle, but even if I'm reading a favourite author on the thing, it just doesn't feel the same. It's like meeting an old friend and finding them decked out in a tinfoil suit. Same person but odd presentation, and after a few polite words one might awkwardly excuse oneself from the conversation and plead urgent business elsewhere. I think with books, the clothes make the man, and there's nothing quite like the familiar, comfortable feel of the actual paper cover in your hand. There are old books I keep just because I like the feel of them against my palm.

The greatest thing about rereading these favourite books is that my memory is so poor, I honestly don't recall how the mystery turns out. It's like reading them for the first time, so I get to enjoy them afresh again and again.

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