Clifton Fadiman once said, "When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before." It's an idea that I've long pondered. There are some books on my shelves that are more worn than others. I find myself turning to them over the years even though I've already read them at least once and I already know plotwise what is coming, but time and again the words on the pages continue to offer me something in a way that I so desperately need. It makes me feel guilty, therefore, that there are also quite a few books I haven't read yet, or maybe I only read once because I had to for my high school English class and I never gave it another chance.
I've just had the immeasurable pleasure of finishing John Green's latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, and my thoughts on it will be coming this weekend. I can already tell it is a book that I will be rereading in the months and years to come. And, believe it or not, rereading books actually shows up in this particular novel (I can't say anything more than that out of respect for people who have not yet read/finished the book).
This question that had already been cooking in my head combined with this novel have me considering Mr. Fadiman's words even more than usual. Does rereading the books we hold dear help us or hurt us? Wouldn't it do us more good to try new things, consider new ideas, get to know new characters and situations? Or, since people are always changing and we're never exactly the same when we reread something, is it okay to continually reach for that same volume on the bookshelf and learn a new lesson from an old friend?
I honestly meant to write more on this subject because it's one that I find to be interesting - the answer varies so much from reader to reader - but Green's novel has left me in a state where words simply fail me. Or really, I feel like I'm failing them because I can't use them nearly as eloquently as he can.
Comments always welcome, please share your thoughts, and as always, happy reading.