Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rereading

I think of summer as a time for reading, though the truth is I always have a book going, regardless of the season. Growing up in Pocatello, Idaho I especially remember summer days, riding my bike to the little old Carnegie Library to fill my bike basket with books. I read and reread every Nancy Drew, every one of the Oz series, every Agatha Christie, biographies—I loved them!— and more.
I have a few books that I reread every ten years or so. The Great Gatsby is one of them. That is my well-worn copy, purchased for $1.25, when I was in college. I was prompted to pull it out this week, by a Facebook post a friend made. It had a long list of supposedly "must read" books that you mark if you have read them and can make a notation as to your opinion. My friend rated The Great Gatsby as "overrated". I was more surprised than outraged. How could anyone not love this book? Romantic, tragic, and so beautifully observed. It is such a visual book. I know, quite certainly, how the Valley of ashes looks and I can close my eyes and see, across the water, the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. I have seen only one of the movie adaptations, the one with Robert Redford as Gatsby, and beautiful as that movie was, it did not begin to replicate the detailed mental picture I have in my mind. I suppose no movie ever could. Robert Redford, handsome devil, was too sparkly and modern. In my mind Gatsby will always be a Leyendecker illustration—the Arrow shirt man—hair slicked back, a little sadness in the eyes. And, of course, a beautiful shirt. (if you've read the book, you know about the shirts—)

Do you have books you reread? Is that a strange thing to do? There are parts I forget, and things I think I notice for the first time, and maybe it reminds me of the first time I read the book and how it made me feel. And maybe it's a kind of pleasant, buzzy deja vu as it all comes back to me.

"Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!"
-F. Scott Fitzgerald-
The Great Gatsby

15 comments:

  1. I'm not much for rereading books, though Gatsby would be one I'd consider. I'm totally with you on teh Leyendecker/Arrow shirt observation. I read all the Nancy Drew books and Agatha Christie too, plus Sherlock Holmes. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a few books I read over and over. My favorites are Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Big Steinbeck fan here. My dogeared copy of East of Eden is always nearby. Lately, I've re-read "A Year in the World" by Frances Mayes. It always makes me feel wonderful. A travel journal & not a classic but it is so wonderfully written that it will be. You can open it to any page and be delighted and fascinated.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I reread The Catcher in the Rye every year nearly. I came across a post recently which discussed whether or not there should be an image of Holden on the cover of the book. No chance.

    I also reread The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) and the Hotel Paradise (Martha Grimes)-two great contemporary authors. The books are all like old friends.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There are a few that I re-read every couple of years - it's like going back to watch a favorite movie again and again. Mine are an eclectic bunch - One Hundred Years of Solitude, Stranger in a Strange Land, the Anne of Green Gables series and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    jane

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am not a big reader - many books get started and never finished, but that's another very long story. As far as I can recall I have only ever reread two books: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Chronicles of Narnia (all 7 books) by C S Lewis, both from my childhood but I have enjoyed them again many times as an adult.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I remember reading The Great Gatsby...I was just a teen! I have reread Tuck Everlasting a few times since I first read it as a kid. There are some others, too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Great Gatsby is definitely on my "to be savored again and again" pile. I read "Travels With Charley" by John Steinbeck once a year for the sheer delight. A truck, a guy and his dog and all they see along the way. And when Steinbeck is the guy, you see a lot. It's a delight.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Great Gatsby not one of my favorites. But, somewhere in the stored stuff, I have a copy that looks just like yours.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Andersonville by McKinley Kantor. Any of James Lee Burke's Robicheaux series.

    I need to broaden my horizons.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It certainly is the season isn't it. When I did my beach retreat in June I spent the first four days reading a book a day, then I settled down or maybe ventured out and got to a more reasonable one book/ one week schedule. I read the entire Sherlock and Agathie series one summer in high school. My most recent reread was the Grapes of Wrath several years ago. Certainly had a very different perspective reading it with 20+ years of maturity and life experiences compared to the required reading in HS.

    I have always read, and just yesterday was looking at an AP reading list for high school students and realized how much I have missed in my years. Can not be considered well read, and I intend to change that. So on to the classics, old and new.

    j

    ReplyDelete
  12. Robin G7:20 AM

    I, too, have quite a few books I read and re-read and re-read. Just to name a few are Jane Eyre, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, The Lord of the Rings books the Betsy, Tacy and Tib (old children's)series and, of course, all of the Harry Potter books.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I will second what Robin G said...all of the Harry Potter books, but also, the Thornbirds and Watership Down....

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm a slow reader and have a list of books I'd like to read that is so long I doubt I will ever get through it. So to reread a book is almost a luxury I can't afford. That being said, there are a few that I have reread for the very reasons you state or just because they made such an impact on me first time around. Two that come immediately to mind are The Risk Pool (Russo) and The Once & Future King. There are a few non-fiction books I revisit too. No, it is not a strange thing to do at all.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I typically don't re-read books, but The Great Gatsby was such a terrific read that I may just do it!

    ReplyDelete