A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by Politics & Prose to hear Jonathan Yardley speak about his new book, Second Reading: Notable and Neglected Books Revisited. A collection of highlights from his column of the same name which ran in the Washington Post for several years, Second Reading contains Mr. Yardley’s reflections as he reread old favorite (and not-so-favorite) books. Among those he returned to were A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (which he “still love[d]”), The Catcher in the Rye (“puerile attitudinizing,” “execrable prose”) and Pride & Prejudice (“a joy”).
Aside from continuing my illusion that being a professional book reviewer would be the BEST JOB OF ALL TIME (he and his wife “winter in Chile” where he does nothing but read and take some Spanish classes—tough life!), his discussion with the crowd got me thinking about what it would be like to reread some of my childhood favorites. Would they hold up? Would I be disappointed in the quality of writing, or the preposterous plots? Or would I fall in love again?
As a kid, I was constantly rereading favorite books even as I was discovering new ones. Some of those that I reread so many times that they practically fell apart were The Lord of the Rings (now held together with duct tape, no joke), A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. A few of my childhood favorites I still like to reread, especially when I’m home sick with a horrible cold and just need some “comfort reading.” James Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times, my great-grandfather’s tattered, cloth-bound copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, and my mom’s giant collection of James Herriot’s animal stories can always get me through a sick day.
I’ll have to think about doing some of my own “Second Readings,” and see what I find…