Do you read the same book, over and over? I do. I am a nut for certain books. Oftentimes, they are ones that I first read in middle or high school. On August 26th I will be celebrating my 20th high school reunion with friends in Springfield, OR. So, this means that I have been reading and re-reading the same books for 20+ years.
It can be a crisp fall day – I’m pruning leaves from the river birch tree in my backyard, and I will have a sudden urge to read a passage from Franny and Zooey. Or I will be driving down I5 to visit family in Eugene when I just need to revisit White Noise by Don Delillo.
What is it about certain stories that keeps us coming back for more? I’ve often thought about this as I lug box upon box of books across the country, from place to place. “Why don’t you just get rid of them?” friends and family ask. It seems like a tedious burden, hauling these words around.
As I nestle down into my favorite blue chair and open Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for the 92ndtime, I feel at home as the first lines settle in ... “I am a man of substance, flesh, bone, fiber and liquid. I might even be said to possess a mind.” It’s like coming home, to re-read these stories. I find myself catapulted back to the first time I read Ellison’s work, as a high school sophomore, searching desperately for meaning behind each and every word.
This, to me, is the courage of true storytelling – when it transports a reader or listener to a particular time and place, a safe space to process and imagine. Through story we find courage to confront demons and dance on rooftops, to relish the odd, and honors tales of resilience amid obstacles.
I hope that you, too, have stories that keep you coming back, again and again.
My Top Ten Re-Reading List:
- White Noise by Don Delillo
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- Franny and Zooey by JD Sallinger
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murukami
- Go by John Clellan Holmes