Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Two for the Show

Over at Booklights, Susan posed a question that's always in vogue amongst book lovers: Which book would you love to read for the first time again? She posted the answers today.

Some books I'd love to read for the first time again. Harry Potters 1-7 spring to mind, alongside The Hunger Games, and I'm sure there's others. Then I thought, What about the second time around?

I don't often re-read, or want to, unless the book is just yowza amazing. I recently re-read The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. The first time, it grabbed me and wouldn't let go. The twists and turns of Eugenides' crafty mind, the ups that you thought were downs, the downs you thought were ups, and that kiss after the attack . . . hooo . . .

Wait, where was I?

Oh, yeah. My point here is that I still enjoyed all those elements the second time, but I also noticed the second major theme of the book, which was Eugenides' youth, his homesickness, his uncertainty, his reluctance to truly take on the mantle of kingship. Quite a trick when you consider that Turner never once used his point of view. It's a quieter theme, one that's easy to lose in the rollercoaster of the first time around, but one that gives depth and resonance to all the twists and turns. With this addition, it becomes almost another book.

Another book that often gives me this experience is Pride and Prejudice, which many of you know is my desert island/nuclear bunker/oh shit the library's closed book. I've read it at least once a year for the past ten years. I've read books about first impressions, self-deception, about family, about the claustrophobia of small towns, about money and rank and self-respect versus worldly admiration. These books all happened to have the same plot and the same two main characters.

Susan touches on this in her discussion, saying of Harry Potter:
But as much as I loved that thrilling, spine tingling first time, it was in the re-reading where I discovered the true magic. Rowling planned out all seven books before the first one was even accepted for publication. All the books are full of subtle, deftly hidden clues and wonderful misdirection that are a delight to discover.
For me, book like this are the ones with grit and guts and staying power. These are the ones you remember, not for the experience of your first time reading it, but because every time you read it there's something more.

Which books have you re-read and found more the second time?


Janni said...

Not a YA, but Njal's Saga has something new to offer every single time I read it.

I'm also rereading the Iliad for the first time now and finding it very different, too--but that may be because I'm older and it's a different translation, too.

For YA, Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword is one I can read over and over again. And I've been longing to go back to The Neverending Story, if only I could find my copy ...

Unknown said...

Surprise! I won't mention Potter (you've covered it nicely and succinctly).

I find something incredibly satisfying about re-reading Sharon Shinn's Archangel, but the books I've re-read most often lately are McKinley's Beauty and (yep! I agree!) her The Blue Sword. When I was younger it was McCaffrey's Dragonsinger books.

The odd thing is how many books I loved that I *haven't* felt compelled re-read. Bartimaeus Trilogy is one of these.