The rereading season

I’m not sure exactly why, but for me winter is always the season of rereading.

Now I do understand that there are people out there who never reread books. I can even recognize the logic behind this: so many books, so little time, why would you want to waste time with one you’ve already read? It’s just that to me this sounds like “Why would you want to spend time with friends you’ve already made when there are so many cool people out there you haven’t met?” Which, aside from being kind of terrifying to most introverts, just doesn’t make sense. Books ≠ people, different rules apply, but still.

I do like to read new books, of course; I love that feeling of discovery when meeting a new world, and I’ll happily take that on in the winter, but overall in the light-starved months I like to find my light in familiar places. If not ones everyone would agree are shiny and luminous. Read my Christmas books post from a few years back and you’ll see what I mean. OMG! you may say about some of the selections, if you share my fictional tastes. Those are the darkest books in those series! People die, and stuff. And yes, this December I’ve already launched a Dalziel/Pascoe reread starting with Dialogues of the Dead and Death’s Jest-Book, reveling in misery and misunderstanding and miscarriages of justice and missed chances (as opposed to, say, mistletoe), for the sake of the wordplay and the beautifully drawn characters and the final piece of poetic stagecraft. And, together with my tea and seasonal rhinovirus, I am now settled in to the nearly annual reread of Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book, which is much more of a Christmas story than the above, but not exactly full of reindeer and Santa and eggnog, although there are some carols and bells. As I said in the linked post, not light reading, not at all festive, in fact pretty damn somber throughout, not to mention full of deadly diseases, but don’t you need the darkness for the radiance to shine through? Which it does; in the end it’s a story about hope and faith and love, and what could be better for Christmas?

Rereading books, to me, is an acknowledgment that books are actors with regard to readers, that they do things. And in some cases, they do predictable things, that I need done to me at particular times. Like taking medicine, except with more tolerable side-effects. If this is the wrong analogy, I can blame the cold for fuzzy thinking! But I believe this is a good part of where the urge to reread comes from. That, and a cyclical revisiting of the familiar that is also related to seasonal reflection: fall into winter, winter into spring; I know where you’re going with this, and I think I’ll go along again for the ride.


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