As the snow starts coming down and we begin nestling in with some of our favorite books next to a roaring fire fed by some of our not-so-favorite books, we must ask ourselves: Which ones are worth returning to?
I recently cracked open Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, which I loved the first go-round, and it was like putting on a pair of toasty, custom-fitted toe-socks. Still, I’m ambivalent. There’s something reassuring about the familiarity of a book you’ve already read, like a second date where you get to learn more about each other. On the other hand, there are so many books out there that I haven’t read once, entire oeuvres I haven’t yet cracked, that it seems like a shame to squander precious holiday reading time on something I’ve already consumed. (Strangely enough, this feeling doesn’t extend to movies, as I’ve re-watched Jurassic Park approximately 1,587 times. This month.) And not all books are created equal. Some seem to lend themselves to multiple visits, whether it’s the addictive breeziness of Harry Potter or the pretzeled puzzles of Nabokov. Some don’t: As much as I loved Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I don’t think I could deal with experiencing all that again.
A quick look online shows the rereading debate to be surprisingly heated, with some thinking that it’s a waste of the little leisure time we get in this nasty, brutish and short thing called life, and others of the mindset that you haven’t really read a book until you’ve read it more than once. What do you think? Are there books that you think hold up to a second glance? Are there any you are looking forward to reopening over the holidays?