Why I Re-read

c s lewis quote


The first chapter book that I ever read twice was The BFG by Roald Dahl. Perhaps eight years old at the time, I remember I was captivated by the characters (the Giant in particular) and also by the concept of dreams being physically delivered to the dreamer, rather than being the product of our thoughts’ nightly fermentation. The book proved just as captivating on a second reading.

Since that time I have found myself re-reading books for mainly two reasons:  love of the work, and the requirements of school. The latter was, of course, the less enjoyable of the two, resulting in my having to read Plato’s The Republic three times over the course of my academic career.  Much more pleasurable were the re-readings that were prompted by sheer adoration:  the work of Tamora Pierce (particularly The Song of the Lioness Quartet and The Immortals Quartet), The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley and the The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix.  All of these books can be classified as Young Adult Fantasy novels and all of them enthralled me at the initial reading, in part because I identified strongly with the female protagonists.

I find it interesting that nearly all of the books I have re-read for pleasure so far in my life are ones that I initially read when under the age of fourteen. One might argue that, given my propensity for reading Young Adult Literature (YA), this trend is hardly surprising. Yet, I’ve read probably hundreds of YA novels in my twenties and thirties, none of which I have yet returned to.  Likewise, when I think about the other books I want to re-read, I find myself only listing series that meant something to me when I was young:  The Time Quartet by Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet and Many Waters), The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Perhaps the reason for this is simply that magic seems more tangible when we are young; that my older self wants to re-capture the feeling these books created in me, the sense that the worlds within them were real, that if I were to wish hard enough, I could meet dragons.

 Liz Gillett


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