Monday, December 21, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

So, my Resolution this year was to read more books than last year. Last year I read 52, so this year when I hit 53 around Thanksgiving, I was elated. But not wanting to set the bar too high for 2010, I thought I'd back off for the rest of the year. Of course, not reading isn't an option. And at Thanksgiving I was at my Mom's who was cleaning out a bookcase (she just inherited an awesome barrister's bookcase with the glass fronts but it was smaller than her old bookcase) which she conveniently decided to clean out into the trunk of my car. There were some awesome childhood flashbacks in that box. Combined with a conversation just a couple of weeks earlier with a friend who was reading Shelf Discovery, I decided to reread some of my childhood favorites that have been lugged from apartment to apartment to condo for 20 years now without having their covers cracked.

Most every summer I reread the last 4 Little House books. This summer I reread the first 4 (yes, I skip Farmer Boy, sorry.) So this month I started with some middle reader books, and this week I've been reading all Young Adult. I am worried after this trip back in time about two things: A) reading books that will take me more than a couple of hours and B) reading books that haven't been pre-screened by the person whose opinion I trust me most: me. But it's been fun! So far they've pretty much all held up. And sometimes I can even remember what I was thinking, how I was feeling at the time I originally read these (although some I read so many times that it's impossible to pinpoint any moment when I read it.) I gave up rereading books probably around college. The main reason being increased opportunity. In one of the later Ramona books, Ramona complained she's read all of her books hundreds of times. That made me grin. I remember saying those exact words.

Currently, I am living with at least 300 books I haven't read. If absolutely nothing new comes into this house, at my current rate of reading, that's 6 years' worth of books. And of course the idea of nothing new coming into the house is laughingly ludicrous! I do wonder if I shouldn't get rid of some of the books I've had for more than 6 years. But I always figure if I get mono, or if I get hit by a bus and end up in traction for many months, I could make a dent in my collection. I think that theory is one thing that's keeping me so darn healthy.

But back to rereading. I think a second reason kids do that so much (aside from having limited finances and collecting ability) is something I first read about in The Tipping Point: kids are learning so much, that it can be reassuring and restful to encounter something familiar that isn't necessarily always teaching them something. (Mr. Gladwell was talking about rerunning Sesame Street segments.) Also I think that you can get more out of books the second or third time around. Of course we all had to do that in college -- rereading a book we'd been assigned in an earlier class or just going over a book or story again and again when writing a paper. These days I sometimes read a book where there's such a twist at the end, I think Wow, this would be a totally different book to read now, knowing what I know. But I never do it.

This has been a fun exercise in nostalgia and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. But I am also looking forward to January.

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