read and re-read

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.

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30 thoughts on “read and re-read

  1. Books are one of the biggest reasons that I don’t miss India. The book selection there is dismal, especially those containing lots of pretty pictures of scantily clad women.

  2. came back and re-read :)
    i’ve never re-read a book, but i agree with you – the reader’s perspective changes, and the book could offer more/ a different meaning.. i wonder if it also works like music – triggering ‘what was your life like when this song was a favourite?’ thoughts….
    neat post :)

    • ha, true. It applies to movies even more so. There’s just so many different things that come together. I remember dissecting “sagara sangamam” like that. “Ek Duje Ke liye” – I cried the first time, next, I’d watch his mannerisms, then enxt I counted the number of times they flashed the nightlamps etc etc :-))

      Thank you :)

  3. I can relate. I re read books. Sometimes I have too because the first time I read books I am rushing to see what happens next and do not savour the language, thoughts as much as I am meant to.

      • Murder mystery novels is acceptable. I picked up Howard’s End to read and I just had to know how the sisters ended up before I decided if I like the book. I was hoping to write a review but I am going to have to reread it to do any justice :).
        And how do you manage to read before you sleep? I doze off so quickly that I generally stuck on the same page for days.

        • lol, good q. Earlier, I used to be able to get to bed much before sleep hit me or when the day’s chores weren’t that tiring. It gets harder as the day gets physically exhausting..
          I aim at least a chapter, or I wouldn’t move at all.

          You should review :)

  4. Ah! I love this post. Yes. I have my favorite Sherlock Holmes that I read every single time when I go back. I don’t want to bring it with me here.

    In Madras I used to beg, bug.. my brother to please get me books from Raviraj Lending Library. Is it still there? The poor kid was such a wonderful human being he would bike all the way down on Usman Road and bring me a couple of books regularly.

    My poor sainted mother would get on the PTC bus and come with me to British Council on Mount Road. We even saw Princess Diana’s wedding there.

    Sniff sniff… the good ole days. Rads you are truly a gifted writer. You can do nostalgia so well. I am sure many of your readers have their own well-tread stories of books. I completely understand the concept of not being able to buy books on a whim. I remember the one Enid Blyton we were allowed to buy when summer started… Oh I could go on and on.

    • omigosh, yep! Raviraj Lending library. I couldn’t even find him this time, there’s a HUGE flyover right there which serves no purpose.

      aw@mom taking you. I wish mine did. :-)

  5. I do that too. But I go back all the way to books i used to read when i was really little like Enid Blytons and Hardy Boys and Nancy Drews. I recently noticed that our local library here has a big fat Enid Blyton which I remember borrowing from a friend and reading it when I was a little girl. I have placed that one on hold:-)

    • See, I really thought I would enjoy them and tried recently. I couldn’t :| They seemed to be very slow and I wished they’d speed up. I guess I’ve lost patience along the way.

      My daughter didn’t really warm up to Enid Blytons.. we’ll see maybe munchkin will.

  6. In accordance to what metlin said I’m calling for VS catalogs to be handed out free with the daily Hindu/TOI to inculcate reading habit in the youth!

    it has been proved that pictorial memory is often stronger!

  7. Great post – there are 2 kinds of people in this world: readers, and re-readers. Ok, maybe three. In any case, we should form a facebook group “Re-readers Anonymous”. I would be a charter member

    • That is true. Only certain ones, and they should either carry a great re-readable story, or the words ought be strong, or there’s a pleasant parallel in your life while reading it then.

      :)

  8. I have so many books to read. I am trying to read as fast as possible, inwardly I am fearing that I am giving up on pleasure of reading, enjoying the journey.

    As for Doctors, that you are about to read. It features my dream man: Barney Livingstone. Even at my tender age when I read that book I remember thinking that. Though plot of the book is much more than about Barney Livingstone and Laura Costello chemistry. :)

    Happy reading. :D

    • Tell me about it. It’s grown so long, that I’ve stopped updating the list! These days the speed’s decreased too. Mind’ cluttered.

      I LOVE Barney. When I read it the first time I was insanely jealous of Laura having such a cool friend.

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