I love reading books that I have read before.
I don’t quite remember when that started or why, but when and if I had to guess, it was the need to want to read and not having enough material around and so I’d pick up whatever was available. The most obvious thing would be the book (cartoon or novel) that we owned lying around the house.
Growing up in our little suburb of Madras, there were a couple of small well stocked libraries nearby. I believe there were other humongous and much distinctive libraries that offered some distinct hi-caliber passages into literature, but we couldn’t get access. A few different reasons of course, one being the affordability, and the other being the distance and one other being that our parents were paranoid about letting their daughters lose in the big bad city.
Fair enough, I think now, but back then, it was hugely frustrating and annoying.
Buying was also restricted as well, it cost money and if that month the expenses were high, there would be no frill-spending.
So what does one do then? Apart from reading The Hindu, and/or The Indian Express and/or The Economic Times from the front to the back or in my case back to front. There were definite long term benefits to all that reading, but it sure didn’t do much to stimulate the creative cells of imagination.
That’s when you pick up the book nearest to you and read. After you finish with that, you put it down and go pick another one and plow through it. You keep moving book to book to another book. Then you start the loop again.
And just like that, cozying between the cells upstairs and the eyes, certain train of words jump at you, and you discover a delicious marriage of thoughts. There’s that certain voice that the word’s taken, steering the story clear out from the earlier murkiness.
The second read does that. It flushes out the author’s hidden agenda, the meanings like he meant them to be. The character’s dialogs that speak silent intentions between their spoken words and the body language that can speak their thoughts much earlier than the author dictates.
Then you put that book away for a period of time.
When you pick that book up again for the third time, there’s that special thrill of familiarity. Your mind reads the words before your eyes see them, the anticipation of the scene in the chapter overwhelms the present chapter. There’s a frenzy to race ahead and sometimes there’s the lazy demeanor to just let it all in slow. There’s a rush to experience it all as much as there’s a rush to savor it all.
A toss up.
Sometimes, our memories fail us altogether. There’s that bittersweet melancholy. The frustration of wanting to dig into teh recesses and bring it up, and there’s that sense of embarrassment. One that mocks us to say “but you’ve read me, and you forgot?!” Incredulity spraying a blob of guilt.
You pick up your sorry face, hang your head in shame and without further ado step into the pages again. This time with a promise that you would never ever forget a single part of it.
Favorite books are made of such.
Favorite people are made similarly.
Yesterday an old friend said “am an open, read and discarded book. There’s nothing new left in me“. I laughed. Coz it wasn’t the book’s place to decide if it was worthy to be read, it was the reader’s. The reader’s perceptions and interest can make for a stimulating and perhaps even comforting re-read. Once a book’s become a favorite, it can never be discarded. Once a friend, will always remain one. Sometimes they get better with time. The dog-eared corners of teh pages, the yellow tinge of maturity, more years added on. Like cheese, or even wine. It only gets better.
I am now reading Memory Keeper’s Daughter, but today I chanced upon a deep blue colored thick book stuck between a large old folder and a case of batteries in teh study: Eric Segals’ Doctors. I plan on reading that too in my bed before I sleep. It’s an old favorite of mine. There’s comfort in it. Just like in the older memories. The ones that stay with us. Like the taste of a good re-readable book.