The Sunday Salon: On rereading (and a readalong)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The Sunday 
Salon.com

Once in a while when I am in a very anal mood, I go about organizing my Goodreads booklists, moving books around, renaming shelves, adding new ones and deleting the shelves that no longer interested me. Despite how counter-productive such a task usually is, I find some odd sense of comfort and pleasure in doing it.

During one such exploit yesterday, I came across a shelf that I had named 'revisit', meant for those books that I want to reread again. These are usually books that usually required a reread to fully appreciate all facets of storytelling and subtle nuances of the plot - books like Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, which on completing, gave me an immediate feeling of disorientation but after a couple of days of processing, made me see the pure brilliance of the narration. But there were also a few other books that I enjoyed tremendously, even rated them 4+ stars.

Funnily, barring the Murakami book, I didn't feel like rereading any of the others. I would still insist that those books are/were fabulous, but wouldn't care to read the book again at all. Somehow I am content with relishing the past success I had with the book and leaving it at that. Though, if I saw that book in front of me, I am likely to reread a few passages here and there but not really sink into it.

Sometimes I feel that a book's pull and appeal is somewhat lost on rereading. The fact that I already know who the characters are, what their personalities are like and what happens at each instant of the storyline ruins the excitement of the unknown. Unless the book is a highly clever puzzle that always throws up new things each time you open its pages. The fact that the book made my top 10 of the year definitely had no effect on whether I would want to read it again. Usually the more I liked the book or the more I disliked it, the more the chance that I would never reread it.

What are your rereading tendencies like, if you do reread?

On other news, I am yet again walking into a chunkster readalong, this time it is The Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, with JoV, Sam and Ana. Despite being still scarred by my disastrous participation in Shantaram last year, I am enthusiastically walking into another one, having obviously not learned any lesson. In case you are interested in joining, feel free to leave a comment below. There is a schedule

Book 1 : 1.1 to 7.46 (July to August)
Book 2 : 8.1 to 13.38 (August to September)
Book 3 : 14.1 to 19.16 (September to October)

But I will just go with my flow because schedules = pressure for me. Also the readalong starts next week on the 23rd. Now let me just hope that this book is genuine Indian and not just Westernized Indian.


10 comments:

Sam_TinyLibrary said...

I like the idea of having a revisit shelf - I have lots of ideas of books I want to revisit so it would be good to have them all in one place.  Like you I rarely reread, if I do it tends to be classics as I often get a lot more out of them on the second try.

Excited for the group read!

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

Even as a child, I rarely re-read books.  Knowing the story spoils a re-read for me.

JoV said...

It's a bane of current publishing phenomenon, too many new books therefore there is hardly the chance to re-read a book. I am however excited about the read-along, finally there are 3 wonderful blogging friends joining me in this journey, hopefully that will motivate and make me think twice if I ever want to give up! :)
Yes I too hope it is truly an Indian book.

Excited for the group read too!

Helen Murdoch said...

I am definitely not a re-reader (except for Harry Potter and Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver). Good luck with A Suitable Boy; I've discovered that I enjoy reading many books in the summer versus one chunkster

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I totally hate rereading. Mainly because I want to use my time on new things. But I do plan to relisten. For example I read and LOVE The Host. Before seeing the movie, I think I will listen to it for a refreshner.

Aarti Nagaraju said...

I don't reread much at all, either.  I am always nervous that I won't enjoy the book as much as I did the first time.  Though I WANT to reread some books, I'm not sure how likely I am to do so.

I am reading A Suitable Boy now and just made it past the first half (it took quite some time).  But it's very engaging and interesting, if you skip over the political debate parts, much like Middlemarch.  And there are rhymes!

Lisa said...

The only books I ever keep after I've read them are the ones I think I'll reread someday. But I rarely read them again, largely for the reasons you gave. I'm always afraid they will never live up to the memory I have of them. And, of course, they probably won't because there is no surprise to them.

Ti said...

I gave up on Suitable Boy. It just wasn't my cup of tea. I gave it 200 pages which is more than I've given any book. 

I would re-read Kafka on the Shore too just to revisit the characters. I am about to start Norwegian Wood. 

Piyush Garyali said...

... and this comes from a person who has read and re-read Harry Potter a bazillion times already :-)

Young_1 said...

Recently finishing The Fifty Shades Trilogy i wanted to start it all over again but didn't as like you said it just is not the same as you know what is going to happen and can pre-empt every sentence on the turn of a page.
One book that I would love to consider for a re-read is Shantaram as it was truly my favourite book for last year even though I only gave it a 3/5 I would like to thing it has the potential to get better with a second chance. However yet again you have a point of things may be best left alone!

I am itching to get involved with this read-a-long but am still undecided!