I'm a little excited.
This month over at The Classics Club they have selected my question for the September meme.
"Rereading a favourite classic at different stages of your life gives you different insights with each reading. Is there one classic you’ve read several times that also tells a story about you?"
I've reread books all my life. As a child I didn't own many books, so rereading was the only way to feed my need to read daily. Rereading nurtures something deep within my soul. My choice of reread reflects what's going on for me at the time.
When I was young I was drawn to books about adult-free children. I loved the freedom, the independence and the resourcefulness these books portrayed.
(I guess I'm not the only one as there is a whole section of children's books devoted to this theme.)
Early on my favourite reread was a slim early chapter book called Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink. Two young girls, shipwrecked on an island, with 4 babies and toddlers to care for.
I then moved onto The Magic Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton. Although these children were not orphaned or lost, they went into the forest, made new, strange friends and had adventures in strange lands with unpredictable consequences that they had to deal with.
My next big passion was The Secret Island. Another Enid Blyton with all my classic themes. Orphans, runaways, isolated islands and clever, resourceful children surviving by themselves. The only problem I ever had with this book was the toileting issue. Where did they go to the bathroom? Blyton never mentioned this basic need once. It was only a small island - if they just pooped all over the place randomly, then they would have had some unpleasant walking along in barefoot experiences!
During my late primary years, I discovered my mothers Louisa May Alcott collection and I found reread nirvana. I read the four books so many times in the hope that somehow Jo March's character would rub off on me!
A kind aunt then gave me the first two Trixie Belden books for my tenth birthday. By my 14th birthday I had collected the entire 36 books then in print (another 3 came out later). I reread the entire series several times, but certain books (the ones with a little bit of romance!) got a heavier workout. My needs were changing!
My teens were less about rereads and more about discovery. I scoured second hand bookshops for cheap books and trade-in deals. I devoured lots of romances and light historical fiction dressed up as romance. None of these books warranted a reread. Thankfully I had some good English teachers who lead me towards adult classics and modern literature, so that when I finally emerged from my romance phase I had some ideas on what to turn to next.
The big one, of course, was Jane Austen. Yes, romance is a big part of the Austen oeuvre, but rereading highlights the humour, the clever construction of plot & the sparkling dialogue. I also have oodles of older posts detailing why and how many times I've reread my Austen's.
Curiously my need to be stranded on a desert island returned as an adult as I devoured end-of-the-world drama's. I reread Stephen King's The Stand, Jean Hegland's Into the Forest & John Wyndham's Day of the Trifids several times.
But whenever I need inspiration, the only book to turn to was To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
About 7 years ago I planned a major move. I decided that I had to cull some of my books. It involved lots of hard decisions and lots of quick rereads. I was surprised and disappointed to see that quite a few books that had moved me to tears, to laughter and filled me with joy in my twenties, just didn't cut the mustard in my late thirties. The lessons had been learnt, the message received, I didn't need them any longer. Which made the packing much easier than I had thought!
But ever since then I've been thinking about the reasons why we reread books.
For me it's a matter of survival and sometimes a need for comfort.
What is it for you?