Thursday 16 March 2017

Brona's Salon

Brona's Salon is a new meme which aims to gather a group of like-minded bookish people 'under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.'

I will provide a bookish prompt or two to inspire our conversation.
However please feel free to discuss your current read or join in the conversation in any way that you see fit.
Amusement, refinement and knowledge will surely follow!


Lately I have been thinking about rereading a lot.

I used to reread all the time.

When I was a child it was often out of necessity. I didn't have many books of my own, so I read the ones I did have over and over again until the next birthday or next Christmas brought in a new haul of new books!

Rereading favourite books seems like a natural thing to do. Who wouldn't want to return to that place where we had such a good experience?  That place where an amazing connection was had, new friends made and where a new world was inhabited.

Rereading can also tap into deeper psychological needs - our need to belong, to feel loved and understood, or simply just to feel something.

However Lisa @Bookshelf Fantasies recently provided an interesting provocation.

Rereading our favourites seems like an obvious and natural thing to do.
But what about rereading those books that left us saying 'meh' or those books we didn't finish?

If we know that rereading our favourites can reveal new things with each reread, depending on our age, life experiences, mood etc, why not those books we failed to connect to first go?

I have never been able to finish Catch 22.
I've tried three times now.
I keep trying because Catch 22 is the favourite book of one of my best friends.
I love the start, but every time, I simply get tired of the whole premise and give up.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is another book I've tried to get into twice because a good friend loves it, but after a handful of chapters I go 'meh' and put it aside.

I've had plenty of rereading experiences where a once favourite book was reduced to ashes by a reread. The need it had fulfilled at one point was no longer relevant or needed. That's okay.
I can remember it fondly as I book I loved when. It doesn't have to connect to the older me as well.

Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse almost fell into this category.
I adored it in my twenties, I felt an incredible connection to the main character Edith. But a decade later it felt contrived and ridiculous and Edith was just annoying.
However thanks to the publication of the final book in the trilogy in my 40's, I tried again. And once again I fell in love. A more tempered, reserved love, but love nonetheless!

The only book I can think of that vastly improved with a reread was Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. My 2013 reread bumped it up from my least favourite Austen to one of my favourites instead!

What has been your experience with rereading?

Have you had another go at one of those old school texts that you hated and resented at the time, but loved in your 20's, 30's, 40's...? Maybe you watched a movie interpretation of one of those 'meh' books that gave you cause to reconsider?

What are you currently reading or rereading?

The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien

Why are you reading or rereading it now? 

I'm rereading it for my #HLOTRreadalong2017.

I decided that I wanted to make some time to reread books this year.
Hosting a readalong has made it happen.

It's also the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit this year, which seemed like a good time as any to revisit this classic fantasy series.

First impressions? 

I had forgotten that it took nearly half the book for Frodo and company to even leave The Shire!
I'm fascinated by how carefully Tolkien builds the tension and danger levels.
All the action and drama in the movies almost from the word go, had made me forget that Tolkien was far more subtle at the beginning.

Which character do you relate to so far?

Frodo, of course.
Although, it's very easy to feel connected to all the hobbits. Their simple pleasures - a comfortable, cosy home, good food, wine and friendly company - are mine too.

However, as an older reader this time around, I'm also relating to Aragorn more.
His desire to look out for the rather naive hobbits has a familiar parental feel about it.

Are you happy to continue?

Yes, yes, yes.
Although I'm pacing myself with this reread.

One - to enjoy the beautiful illustrated edition that I now have.
Two - to give myself ample time to read other books (for work) at the same time.
Three - to avoid the (usually self-imposed) blogging and reading pressure I feel when I join in challenges or readalongs. Reading (& blogging) should be fun, otherwise why are we doing it?!


  1. I recently reread "Enchanted April" by Elizabeth von Arnim because I'm planning a trip to Italy (I'll probably also reread "A Room with a View." I will occasionally reread a favorite book, though I mostly listen to them on audio instead. I like rereads on audio if I can get them because I don't feel like I'm rushing through them to find out the plot, and I can slow down and appreciate the writing more. Also, if my attention wanders while driving, I don't feel the need to go back and listen again.

    1. Ahhh I had forgotten that I used to do with some of my favourite classics in particular. But I don't drive as much as I used to in my 20's and 30's, so audio books aren't something I think to do much of anymore. Jane Austen and Brideshead Revisited were my favourite audio 'rereads' for quite some time.

      Ohhhhh Italy!!!!
      Lucky you!
      I love pairing my reading to my holiday - have you read Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan tetralogy?

    2. I also listened to Brideshead Revisited. Loved it.

  2. Anonymous16/3/17

    I had the exact same experience with Mansfield Park. I quite abhorred reading it around 19. But when I revisited it a couple of years back, I loved it....I think some books make sense with age and what seemed quite horrid at 19 seemed imminently sensible at 32! I have in mind to re-visit some of the books I disliked during my late teens and early 20s to kind of a journey in self discovery!

    1. I'll be curious to hear how you go.

      Which books do you have in mind?

      I'm planning on rereading Brave New World & 1984 (I didn't hate them as a teenager, I just don't think I actually got them at all)!

      We may have another taker for a sync reading of The Patriots in May too :-)

    2. Anonymous17/3/17

      oohhhh....awesome on the reading groupie add on for The Patriots!! That is superb! I am thinking a couple including Les Miserables, The Three Musketeers, Grapes of Wrath (I did not HATE this one per se, just that I loved East of Eden more!) and my biggest albatross Middlemarch. I know everybody swears by it, but I never never got the pulse! So....we will see how this whole re-reading thing goes!I really found 1984 intriguing and a great read when I read it a year back; but I also know instinctively, a younger me while all of liberty and equality would not have found peace with the ending!

    3. The Grapes of Wrath I understand...and for the same reason - it wasn't East of Eden!

      I hope you discover some love for Middlemarch. I read it in my late 20's thanks to a friends recommendation and adored it. But, of course, not all books work for all people. That's what makes the reading experience so unique and interesting :-)

    4. One of my favorite reads in 2016 was Beryl Markham's West With the Night. I just couldn't shut up about it, I loved it so much. Oddly I had attempted to read it about fifteen years ago and couldn't stand it. The universe must not have been aligned for me and this book at the time.

  3. I didn't realize I had so much to say about rereads. Thanks for hosting this. Check out my post at:

    1. For those of us who reread, I think there is a compulsive, urgent and almost obsessive aspect to it that means we will always have lots to say about it :-)

    2. I'm a librarian and every day I go to work I have thousands of books callng out to me to be read. I rarely give in to the urge to reread because the books I haven't read yet are screaming at me louder.

    3. Rereading has certainly been harder to justify since I began working in an Indy bookshop 8 yrs ago. Like you, I'm surrounded by all those brand new unread temptations :-)


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