To re-read or not to re-read

Last Friday’s edition of my e-newspaper featured a tweet from Guardian Books and quoted Harold Bloom‘s incantation “Reread Shakespeare. Reread Shakespeare. I always reread Shakespeare” which got me thinking…

I have re-read some books (my favourite being Kate Atkinson‘s anthology ‘Not the end of the world‘) but I have hundreds (literally) of books that I’ve not read for the first time so wonder whether I will indeed read any books more than once. If I love a book I certainly keep it (if I don’t it goes to my local British Red Cross shop – where I volunteer sorting their donated books) but it may sit there gathering dust.

I must admit I listen to audiobooks more often than I read paperbacks (and even rarer hardbacks and eBooks) because I rarely stay still for long enough. Listening to an audiobook (the latest being the 7-hour Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I’m looking forward to seeing at the cinema) at least leaves me free to… do housework, walk the dog, walk to / from work and so on.

I also admit that I’m not a fan of Shakespeare. I did Macbeth and Midsummer Night’s Dream at school and enjoyed seeing them acted (in Stratford Upon Avon and London respectively) but given the choice (which since leaving school I now have) I wouldn’t read Shakespeare for the first time let alone a second (sorry, Shakespeare fans amongst you). I don’t know whether it’s because history was my worst topic at school but give me contemporary fiction any day.

I love films and have a season ticket to my local cinema (usually a double showing after my Red Cross stint) and ultimately get the DVD (invariably for a pound or two from a car boot sale some months later) and can watch films over and over. Having learned the plot from the first viewing it’s easy then to relax and I love spotting things I didn’t notice the first time because I was concentrating too much. And surely the same can be said for a book; if I enjoyed it the first time, would I not enjoy it even more the second… third?

I do plan to read more next year, as leaving my job at Christmas will free up more time, but for the foreseeable it’ll be first reads of the rows of books around my bedroom walls… dining room cabinets… lounge and bathroom bookcases… toilet windowsill – you name the room, it’s got books in it. Most are novellas and anthologies so fairly quick to read and maybe I’ll love enough of them to let them stay once they’ve been read. Will they be thumbed again? As the saying goes, ‘time will tell’, but reading is such a pleasure that I need to not feel guilty if that’s all I do of an evening (other than posting new blog content of course) and as many of my interviewees have said, “you have to be a reader if you want to be a writer” and there’s nothing I’d rather be.

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