Friday, November 18, 2011


I remember reading quite some time back about a woman who decided not to buy or borrow any more new books until she'd read all the ones (the hundreds and hundreds of ones) she had in her house.  That was her project for the coming year.   I don't know how she got on, but I suspect she found it difficult to resist the temptation of new books.

I've gone through a funny patch in regard to reading: I've been reading a lot of kids' books this year, especially since I retired, but I've also found it quite difficult to get on and read a number of the books I've borrowed from the library, especially the fiction titles.  I've found it even harder to read some of the non-fiction ones I've picked up.   Must be a phase.

However, what I have done more of lately, is re-read books.  As I wrote in my last post, I've just finished reading a Dale Ralph Davis book for the third time.   But this month I've re-read three other books: William O'Malley's More Daily Prayers for Busy People (I'd re-read his Daily Prayers for Busy People earlier in the year - both of these must be up to their third or fourth readings in each case); Grahame Greene's Our Man in Havana which was a delight, full of wit and satire; and Steve Turner's Imagine, which is about art and Christianity. 

You'll note that only one of those is a fiction title, in spite of what I said in the paragraph before that.  I also re-read Philip Yancey's Prayer earlier in the year, and in September, Monday the Rabbi Took Off, and, Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red, both by Harry Kemelman.

Non-fiction books often need a couple of readings to get to grips with what the author is saying, or just to mull over again the points they're making.  In fact, continual re-readings over a period of years probably wouldn't do any harm.  And it's like catching up with an old friend over coffee and discovering what's been happening in the meantime. 

Fiction titles - if you leave them for a few years (and in the case of the three novels mentioned here, it's been quite a lot of years) - often appear completely new: you've forgotten how the story goes, though you have a vague familiarity with some of the incidents, and you find new things that you don't remember at all.  Plus you come at the story with a different life perspective.   Age has a few advantages...!

I find the same thing with watching a movie again: it's surprising how much you've forgotten or missed the first time around, and even though you think you know what's going to happen, there are always surprises.   One viewing is often insufficient for most movies (it's too much, of course, for a few!).  I noticed with the New Zealand movie, The Insatiable Moon, that I enjoyed it a great deal more the second time around, for instance.  You're no longer curious about where the story is going, and you can focus on other aspects of the movie.
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