Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rereading books

I have a confession, with the exception of the Bible and a few other books I do not re-read books.
I guess I always felt like I got the basics of what I read the first time so why do it again. I do not want you to think I am ill-educated, I have read from Hitchens to Hesse, Aeschylus to Ellison, Dickenson to Kazantzakis, the Quran to the Bhagavad gita. Yet something is missing.
As I prepare for a life outside the ivory/tagua tower I am beginning to feel a certain poverty of my education, in that the width of my education far outstrips its depth in most areas.
I think of my mother, who can rattle off poetry she memorized in the 3rd grade and has kept close to her heart all these years hence. I hear of people returning to this work or that work (often times Shakespeare) every year to see how it reads after this experience or that experience, and I am jealous.
I think of the conserving and centering force of this task, the digging and redigging of trenches in the mind. Perhaps rereading is like morning suffrages, but for the intellect.
And so, dear readers, I would like to know what book(s) you reread yearly?
For that matter what is the proper nature of re-readable books? Is it just something you like, something that has touched you a certain way, is it edifying, short? What?
As for me I am compiling a list of potential books to reread, here are ten:

Jesus and the Disinherited
The Screwtape Letters
Freedom of a Christian
All the King’s Men
The Sound and the Fury
Invisible Man
The Pastor