Friday, December 23, 2011
How many times can you read the same book? Do I need a shrink?
I REREAD books.
Okay, I know lots of people reread books they really like, so what’s so unusual about it? Well, ahem, I reread books I like many times; we’re talking ten, twenty, thirty times and more. No kidding! That’s how serious my addiction is.
I just put back one of those books I reread I don’t know how many times back on the bookshelf. It’s a novel by Anita Brookner, Hotel Du Lac, a novel that takes place in Geneva, Switzerland. Anita Brookner is one those prolific more traditional British authors who write in different genres. Most of her novels deal with flawed human beings who struggle with love, identity, relationships--the stuff that novels have been made of since time immemorial. But she isn’t the only author whose books I keep rereading.
Why do I reread the same books again and again? Of course, I have to like or love the book in the first place. But still, I mean I know the plot, I know exactly what happens. One reason is perhaps that I read books not just as a reader but also as a writer. Each time I read a book again, I discover something new: an image I hadn’t noticed before, an interesting sentence structure, etc. However, that’s only half the reason. I reread books even before I started to seriously write myself.
The only thing I can explain my book fetish is that fact that when I read, I leave this world and enter into the world the author creates for me. I travel to distant places, I slip into different personalities, I experience life through a different sensibility. I get totally absorbed in the book and this happens every time I read the book.
I guess it could be worse; I could be addicted to a more dangerous substance. The only drawback is the fact that I am also an author and have to write books, not just read them. And right now, I’m struggling with my writing and boy; it’s so much easier to read. So I indulge myself until my author voice hits me over the head and I throw the book away and pick up my writing pad. I struggle through a few pages, feel better, toss my pad and--yes, you guessed it--grab the book again.
Am I the only one afflicted with this “disease,” this book fetish? I hope not!
Christa Polkinhorn, originally from Switzerland, lives and works as writer and translator in the Los Angeles area, California. She divides her time between the United States and Switzerland and has strong ties to both countries. She is the author of five novels and a collection of poems. Her travels and her interest in foreign cultures inform her work and her novels take place in several countries. Aside from writing and traveling, she is an avid reader and a lover of the arts, dark chocolate, and red wine.