The Joy and Art of Re-Reading

“The entire idea of rereading implies just such a likeable and progressive assumption about life, one that’s meant to keep us interested in living it: namely, that as you get further along, you find out more valuable stuff; familiarity doesn’t always give way to dreary staleness, but often in fact to celestial understandings; that life and literature both are layered affairs you can work down through.

Rereading a treasured and well-used book is a very different enterprise from reading a book the first time. It’s not that you don’t enter the same river twice. You actually do. It’s just not the same you who does the entering. By the time you get to the second go-round, you probably know—and know more about—what you don’t know, and are possibly more comfortable with that, at least in theory. And you come to a book the second or third time with a different hunger, a more settled sense about how far off the previously-mentioned great horizon really is for you, and what you do and don’t have time for, and what you might reasonably hope to gain from a later look.”

Richard Ford on rereading.

Lest we forget, Nabokov put it best: “A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.”

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