I am not really a re-reader of books. Well, let me add a caveat to that. I am not really a re-reader of non-romance novels. I can re-read my favorite romance novels again and again and again. I probably read my favorite romance novel, Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss, once a year. Stephanie Laurens and Julie Garwood are two more authors I like to re-read.
But for some reason I never seem to pick up my other favorites more than once. I got to thinking about this recently when I watched the film adaptation of A.S. Byatt's Possession, my favorite contemporary work. I read that book at least eight years ago and haven't read it since.
This made me think about why I read the books I read and why they become my favorites. Stephanie Laurens and Julie Garwood write fun stories that I like to revist, just like I like to re-watch fun movies like Bring It On and Anchorman. Books like Possession appeal to me for different reasons.
I have always been an avid reader, but for most of my life I was a very one dimentional reader. Growing up I read Sweet Valley High, etc., and then I moved into romance novels and read those almost exclusively.
But something changed when I read Possession. Even though it's been years, I can still remember how awed I was by the writing. Not just the plot or the characters, but the actual writing of the book. I think that was the first time that I became consciously aware of good writing.
And for some reason, I don't have much of a desire to revisit those kinds of books. It's like Brokeback Mountain; I loved that movie, but I just don't want to see it again. In both cases, my first exposure provoked a strong emotional reaction. I wonder if maybe I don't re-read or re-watch because I'm afraid of diluting that memory in some way. Does that make sense?
I thought I'd write one this because lately I've been thinking that I do need to re-read some works that I haven't read in years. For instance, I watch the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice so much that I was turned off by coldness and arrogance of Darcy and Elizabeth in the BBC version. It made me realize that I need to re-read the book in order to accurately remember what it's about. Maybe I should made a resolution to re-read all of my favorite books that were adapted as films in order to keep the purity of the book in mind. I guess I'll have to add The Power of One, Atonement, Wuthering Heights, and Cold Mountain to that list.