Talking books, unread & reread

The bookshelf in front of my desk has often had me  wonder,  ‘would I ever be able to read all those books  before my time is up’.  I am 73 .  Browsing the Net and channel surfing have pushed reading books to  a back-seat in my re-ordered daily routine.

My shelf has books waiting to be read.  It has part-read books bookmarked to be taken up later.  And there are the ones I gave up on after a chapter or two.  Such is my backlog of reading.

This, however, doesn’t end one’s quest for books to be read.  My current wish list includes Vinod Mehta’s Lucknow Boy, and  a pre-Jan 25  Egypt’s novel Taxi,  by Khaled Al Khamissi,  who weaves a story of despair,  poverty and hopelessness through the voices of  Cairo’s taxi drivers.  Of course, I am in no rush to get Lucknow Boy ; would rather wait for it to show up at a used-books seller’s  pavement spread . That is where you can haggle before buying. Books picked up at county  library book sales  during our periodic US trips,  account for scores of titles on my shelf.  The thing about them  is,  during closing hours of sales,  you pay only for a carry bag , and they let you take away as many titles as the $2 bag can hold.

As if I am obliged to read all books in my possession,  the unread and unfinished ones  sitting in my shelf give  me a  ‘guilt’  feeling  whenever I pick out an odd title for a re-read.  How could I go back to something I have already read,  when there is so much still to be read,  and not much time to do it in. You find an answer  in this magazine piece  by Hannah Rosefield.   Readers come in two types ,  she says – people who reread books, and  those who don’t.

A self-confessed first category person Ms Rosefield cites in her defense  Patricia Meyer Spacks’s book, On Rereading.  She is quoted as saying,  “rereading a book loved over a decade ago may provide a comforting continuity, a sense that both we and the book have remained essentially the same, but equally it can reveal how much we have changed, or how different the book is from our memory of it.  Perhaps we like it just as much, but for different reasons;  perhaps we don’t like it at all”.

Though I am not the type that rereads books, I revisit a title ,  prompted by something I watch or read about in the media. Reading  review of a  book on Eva Braun I made a mental note to look for Hitler in my shelf.  A festival screening of Trisha,  a movie adaptation of Hardy set in India,  prompts one to revisit  Tess by Thomas Hardy.

Rosefield  in the magazine piece, referring to the types of readers,  doesn’t mention the  type of people who read two or more books at any given time. I am doing three right now – An Amateur’s Attempts – a collection of blogposts and other bits by my young frind Lakshmi Bharadwaj; The Bookseller of Kabul; and a re-read of Reel Power, a book by Mark Litwak on what makes Hollywood tick.


3 Responses

  1. Have never been a book-reader of any repute! So I can’t say much about ‘rereading’, but I know a second read will reveal a much better understanding and enjoyment. Before ‘your time is up’, pick up the ones, only the ones, that have given you most enjoyment and enlightenment. That could be most soothing.

  2. Most do not get time to read all their books they store up. But a majority read some snatches here and there and keep them for ‘detailed reading’ later which never happens. All readings are mostly ‘non-detailed’!

  3. I have reread books and felt I was from a different planet as I thought I was the only one doing it as my brain cannot hold what I had read. Now, I feel slightly comfortable. I have many unread books on my wish list. I know I will never be able to get to many of them.

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