There is a moment when you’re reading that I’m sure you’ll recognize: when everything starts to come together and you realize that this book is going to be one you’ll love. It’s a feeling that moves readers to read books again and again to try to recreate it, to try to find it in every new book they pick up. I know you have books that you’d like to read for the first time, again, without knowing anything about their pages. That thrill of discovery leaves me breathless, gives me chills, and puts a wide grin across my face. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I’m reminded again why I spend so much time reading and more time still reading about books.
The books that make me feel this way are the books I reread over and over. Many of them are from my childhood: A Wrinkle in Time, Ella Enchanted, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I remember reading them for the first time and sometimes I wish I could go back to that moment of pure joy. There is no higher compliment for a book than the desire to read it again for the first time. I wish I could re-experience the plot twists in Fingersmith by Sarah Waters for the first time. The plot of Atonement by Ian McEwan is so perfectly woven that I wish I could watch it unravel for the first time again.
Other books get better with every reread. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is such a rich novel, rereading it is a delight. While I would love to experience Merricat’s story in Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle for the first time again, I think a reread is even more rewarding.
Then there are the books that don’t quite survive a reread. I fell head-over-heels in love with Blankets by Craig Thompson the first time I read it, but on the reread I didn’t experience the same elation. I still think it’s a beautiful story and there are moments when it is perfect, but I also see its flaws. I’m glad I read A Wrinkle in Time as a child, because I’m not sure I would have loved it if I had read it for the first time as an adult. I still reread it and still remember what made me love it, but there are many other books by Madeleine L’Engle that I love more.
I’ve always been a rereader. When life is stressful or I can’t find any books to suit my mood, I turn to old favorites for comfort, but I always wonder what it would be like to read those books again, to start a book over with a blank slate. Do you? What books would you like to read again for the first time? Which books only get better with their second or third read? I’ll admit I have selfish reasons for asking: I want to discover these books for the first time myself.