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Let us read, let us dance…..

I want to ask to that part of the population that is passionate about books and reading and that too in an obsessive compulsive manner like me, who needs to read at least 3 books a week if not more, have you been asked this question – How can you read the same book twice? or “How can you waste your time reading the same book again? And the best question of them all “Do you not get bored reading the same thing again? Don’t you want to do something better in life?”

I need to find out if it is just me who is always snowed with such questions, or others have been in my shoes and felt similarly flummoxed. I usually get this question from mostly from those who not read, but what really really confuses me is when people who claim to be a readers ask me this! I need to understand this phenomenon.

A lover of books will always go back to certain writings again and again. For instance, when I have a bad day at work or have an argument or something nasty happens in way of things, I resort to what I call my “comfort” books – Jane Austin and Terry Pratchett. On the other hand, if I am in a leisurely mood, eating something delicious (yes! I read when I eat! Yes I am aware it’s a bad habit and my mother has yelled her lungs off about it…but I enjoy it so I am sticking to it!) or generally contented with life, then its Saki, Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, Arthur Conan Doyle, J K Rowling , Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, A S Byatt and Gorge Orwell. On a long vacation, I tackle, Leo Tolstoy, John Galsworthy, John Steinbeck, Somerset Maugham, Henry James, Joesph Conrad, Thorton Wilder etc etc. The list is endless but this is not about the list. It’s about the fact that there are books we all (I am referring to the reading population) go back to time after time, because we have developed a special bond with them. The characters of these books are our friends, confidants and comrades who sooth us and entertain us. The locales give us a get away from all that is mundane and trite and allow us a break from our humdrum existence, revitalizing us for our foray back to the real world. These books are our partners in our life journey……that’s why they are classics. They are timeless; we can go back to them whenever we feel like. I do not know how many of you feel a sheer, reasonless joy when you pick up one of your favourite comfort books from the your shelves and run your hands over its much thumbed pages…I love this feeling, especially, when I have not read the book for a while. I love the anticipation of trying to reach a particular chapter that I especially enjoy, from a novel I have read so many times. Like when I re-read Pride and Prejudice, I actually wait to reach the part where Elizabeth Bennett along with Mr and Mrs Gardiner set off on a tour of Derbyshire. Or even the part when Wickham and Lydia return to the Bennett household after their elopement. I read through the entire book, just in anticipation that I am still to read my favourite parts!

There are books which I will never ever get back too. I am not going to name them, but there many so-not-worth it books out there in the market today; many of them make me feel at the end….er…why did I read this again? But that does not take away the fact that these cases are far and few in comparison with all the brilliant writing out there which can be read again and again! In the words of Oscar Wilde If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

I am convinced that those people who ask me this question, and trust me I have been asked this question many times, see reading as a task. Naturally a task that needs to be completed cannot be a joy (in most cases) and more importantly, cannot be repeated. I am completely tolerant if you are not a reader…lot of people are not; many people do not and I am sure they have many other ways keeping themselves amused! But I do draw a line if you ask inane questions about it. I mean do I ever ask you “Hey Dude! You are Go carting/adventure sporting/head banging again?”  So please, you stay at your side of turf and let me stay on mine and we will have world peace!

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I know what you’re saying and there are some books that I’ve returned too, but I also find that I’m very impatient to discover new work. That makes me reluctant to go over old ground when there’s so much out there that I will only have the chance to sample a tiny bit of it in my lifetime. But yes, reading an old favourite is like relaxing with an old friend.

    February 22, 2012
    • Hi! I agree with you….I love discovering a work that I have never read before or explore new grounds in a new book. In fact sometimes of the “new” work may also become an “old” comfort book :)…

      February 23, 2012
  2. I love how this post explains the comfort of rereading books. I’ve found in some cases that after I’ve been away from a book for several years, I forget much of the plot so that reading that book again is like starting afresh with a new book. And is there anything better than re-reading the wonderful Jane Austen?

    February 22, 2012
    • Thank You! I know what you mean….there are so many books out there; at times when we re-visit them after a long time, the details come forth so vividly and it’s like reading a new work! Of course….I am shamelessly partial towards Austen, her works are my books of wisdom/comfort/fun/guide to relationships all rolled into one

      February 23, 2012
  3. Thank you for writing this. Your answers were SO similar to my own, haha. And yes, compulsive manner – of course.

    February 22, 2012
    • Hi! The pleasure’s all mine….after all it’s always fun to find a kindred spirit who reads like there is absolutely no tomorrow 🙂

      February 23, 2012
  4. Ann Jacob #

    God! I keep on reading them. Even i read while eating … It kind of became a habit now. And i take some books i love to read while eating and start on parts i like. I have read most of the books over a 100 times now! 😀

    March 4, 2012
    • Hi Ann….Thank you for visiting and leaving a note! I know what you mean! Its like half the taste of the food is somehow intertwined with those old books and especially the parts that I can go over and over again!

      March 4, 2012

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