Rereading is something I often do with favorite novels. The dog-eared pages on a paperback I bought when I was eleven, bent book covers, loose pages; these are all caused by how often I have read and reread that particular book. My Emily of New Moon paperback copy for instance finally had to be replaced after what was probably my 20th rereading of it. Pondering my addiction to rereading has left me with the question of why? Why is it that we reread the same stories filled with the unchanged characters again and again? What makes reading the scene where Elizabeth Bennet meets Mr. Darcy almost as exciting as the first time I read it? Why do I still smile when Mr. Rochester proposes to Jane? What is it about Emily of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series of books that invites me back endlessly?
I think Gail Carson Levine (author of Ella Enchanted) says it perfectly when she said, “There’s nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that words in a book you’ve read only once can’t” (Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly). The words do become part of you as do the characters. They can become the inspiration for your own life choices. The more you reread a book, the more it becomes ingrained into memory.
I first read Emily of New Moon when I was eleven years old and I haven’t stopped rereading since. Like Emily, I planned to “climb [t]he Alpine path” to success one day. Something about climbing this Alpine Path resonated with my ultimate goals to become a writer and writing for me had everything to do with my life as a reader.
Despite her flaws, and she had many, identifying with Emily Byrd Starr became my most memorable reading experience while still a child. I find looking back that no moment of reading has ever stood out to me more than that moment, the moment when I realized I had become lost in a book, lost in Emily’s world. The instant I entered little Emily’s imaginative existence, my own personal experience through the looking glass, I was hooked on reading for life (although books were already important by this point). More than any other book, however, Emily of New Moon encouraged me along my own path to a universe bursting with books. Would this world of books, however, resonate with me as equally if I hadn’t returned to Emily’s world more than once?
The answer is no. Emily would have been lost like so many other memories and books never revisited. I know I understand books on a deeper level with each rereading. A new metaphor, a new symbol, or a detail I may have overlooked. How exciting is it that I can return to a familiar story and always find something new? So I say, keep rereading. Reread the books that become a part of you, the books that helped shape who you are; return to the books to gain a new experience and a new memory.
What books do you like to reread? Sound off below…
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