Coming Back for More - Jessica

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:

  1. White Noise by Don Delillo
  2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  3. Franny and Zooey by JD Sallinger
  4. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson
  8. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  9. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murukami
  10. Go by John Clellan Holmes