On why we reread

journey to the river seaSo, as I mentioned before, a bout of spring cleaning made me nostalgic for books that I used to read and reread, and has brought about a spree of rereading old favourites (like The Phantom Tollbooth), as well as books I have read once but should reread as part of my challenge to read 1001 Children’s Books I Must Read Before I Grow Up (like The Book of Three)After writing a post on wanting to do some rereading, I went around my house and pulled out a pile of books that I knew were on the list of 1001 Children’s Books and were favourite old rereads. However, sitting them in a stack next to my bed, I wasn’t sure if I should read them and write about them all in a row, as to me there were all a bit similar.

Doing a double take, however,  the books are all quite different – The Phantom Tollbooth is a very different to The Wonderful Farm, as is A Wrinkle in TIme, which is again very different from Journey to the River Sea and Ballet Shoes. The only thing that connected them was me, and that they were connected in my head.

wrinkle in time

Thinking over the list of books, I realised that the reason I think of them as being similar is that I read them all during a similar time. I believe I read all these books for the first time when I was about 11, or during 7eme and 6eme (the French school system equivalent to yrs 5 and 6). They occupy the same ‘genre’ in my head only in the way that they belong to the same pocket of memories, or the same ‘book era’, as I would like to coin it. Books can occupy the same space in your head because of the life outside the books that connect them, rather than the content.

 

ghost of thomas kempe

Thinking over the time that I first read these books, I also realised that this time was a particularly happy time. I became friends with people who, while they may live in different countries to me now, I still consider very good friends. They were very bookish friends too, and looking over my list, I know that one friend influenced me to read A Wrinkle In Time, another gave me Journey to the River Sea as a gift, another lent me The Phantom Tollbooth. Quite a few of these books have my name written in them in terrible scrawl, which means I probably leant those books out to those same friends.

So I ask myself, do I enjoy reading and rereading these books because of  the wonderful writing and wonderful stories, or because subconsciously they remind me of the time and people I was around when I first read them? Something that makes me think perhaps the latter might be true is that I also chose as part of that pile of books The Ghost of Thomas Kempe – a book that we read as an English class text in 6eme, and which we all despised as it seemed that we had to study this book for months – and The Book of Three – which, as I mentioned in my post about it, was a book I read for a class presentation.

No matter the reason why, this pile of books is a rather battered, tatty pile of books. They have definitely been well loved (except in the case of The Ghost of Thomas Kempe). I am very much looking forward to rereading them for the umpteenth time.

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5 comments

  1. This is a great post. Something to think about. Thanks

  2. I love rereading my old books. Currently making my way through Bedknob and Broomstick. There’s something delightfully innocent about the stories.

    On another note, I’ve selected you for a Liebster award, to find out more go here: http://totherailway.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/it-appears-ive-won-an-award/

  3. Gypsy

    Reminds me of reading The Motherstone by Maurice Gee. When the main character Susan is walking across the desert with the blood cat and in my head a track from a 80’s New Order album is playing because that’s what I was listening to the first time I read it and it was the perfect musical score for that scene in my head. I can still vividly remember the scene, the music and how I felt as she was working her way desperately to save O.

  4. Pingback: On reading a book with pictures in it | 1001 Children's Books

  5. Pingback: On school books | 1001 Children's Books

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