Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Guilt of Reading

It is not enough that I over-analyze myself and my writing near to the edge of neuroticity; I do the same with my reading.

I fell into the "should" trap again.

April and May are studio months. It's near impossible to grind out any words at all, let alone read. I am determined not to feel guilty about this next year. I make up for it the other ten months.

The guilt continues in June, when I'm positively parched for books. All I want to do is read, but I feel guilty because my writing has been trickling in April and May.

And the shoulds have attacked, mostly with this mile-high TBR pile at my bedside of all the contemporary authors I'm dying to read, whose books grabbed my attention.

But like last winter, all I seem to want to read is 19th century literature, or something near. This surprises me, but I suppose it shouldn't.

And the guilt isn't just about reading instead of writing, or reading 19th century books instead of 21st century books, but re-reading books.

There are so very many books I am dying to read it depresses me. So the thought of re-reading a book a second or third time, is ... horrifying, like I'm really deciding that this indulgence means I will read two less books in my lifetime.

But I was wandering the aisles of Borders today, not really feeling like reading anything, when I realized I very much wanted to read Dickens and Bronte and (to move into the next century, although that's arguable) Greene and Irving. And I thought: why the heck shouldn't I?

So when I got home, I traipsed downstairs to find an old book. A book from my childhood. Something along the lines of The Secret Garden, but when I got downstairs, I forgot what I went down for.

Instead, I found a book by John Irving I'd obviously read, but have no recollection of.

God bless my poor memory! I think it's the first time I've ever rejoiced in my bad memory!

I can't remember A Son of the Circus.

Thank God. Shouldn't he be coming out with a new novel soon? It's been about two years ...

So how do you feel about re-reading? What books have you most re-read?

Do you ever feel guilty for re-reading when you have a pile of books still to be read? Do you ever trip over a book you forgot, and feel thrilled to get to read it again as if it were brand new?

If you could re-read one book right now, what would it be?

24 bonus scribbles:

Edie 6/22/2008 09:16:00 AM  

One book? If someone put a Dr. Seuss book in front of me, I would have to read it. (That just popped into my head. I'm in a Dr. Seuss mood, I guess.)

I'm a re-reader too. I have 3 piles of TBR books, so, yeah, I feel guilty.

Bernita 6/22/2008 12:18:00 PM  

I'm a re-reader and I don't feel guilty.

Melanie Avila 6/22/2008 02:08:00 PM  

I must be weird. I haven't re-read a book since my days of Sweet Valley High. When I finished Eat, Pray, Love I said that's one book I could bear to re-read, so that can start my list.

spyscribbler 6/22/2008 02:08:00 PM  

Edie, I miss Dr. Seuss! I actually picked one up in Borders, the other day. Dr. Seuss was a genius. I mean, if you think about it, wow.

spyscribbler 6/22/2008 02:09:00 PM  

Bernita, I thought of you when you wrote this post. I need to do more of this. I remember you once said you read a book once fast, then ... for something, then a third time for something else.

Gosh, I wish I remembered.

spyscribbler 6/22/2008 02:10:00 PM  

Sweet Valley High!!! Ohmigosh, Melanie, I was a Sweet Valley High fan, too. I couldn't get enough!

I keep wanting to read Eat, Pray, Love. I need to put that on my list.

Zoe Winters 6/22/2008 02:27:00 PM  

I've read a book called "Nice" by Jen sacks about 3 times.

I've read "Story of O" 3 or 4 times.

I've read some of the mary janice davidson books more than once.

This "reading things more than once" thing is a pretty new phenomenon to me, but like you I have a crappy memory. So when I reread Twilight again I had the most vague memory flashes but I couldn't remember what happened, it was all new discovery for me.

The thing about re-reading a book's comforting, because you know you're going to like it. And it gets rid of that horrible feeling at the end of a great book that "Damn, now it's over" cause you can wait awhile and read it again.

Melanie Avila 6/22/2008 02:52:00 PM  

See, I have a really good memory and can often recite things from something I've only read once. It doesn't bother me with movies because I can "talk" along with it, but it annoys me in books.

Spy, Eat might be a good book when you're feeling down about DH.

Robin 6/22/2008 06:00:00 PM  

I can totally relate. I have a giant pile of books next to my bed that only serves to make me feel awful.

I don't reread much, but when I do, it tends to be fantasy books. I've read "The Lord of the Rings" 7 times, and I now have the urge to read Garth Nix's "Abhorsen" series again. What I really want to read is "Marley & Me" but it's been sitting next to my bed doing nothin' for 4 months!

Amy 6/22/2008 06:07:00 PM  

Rereading books is like visiting with old friends. I don't shut the door on my best friend just because we saw each other a few days ago1 No! I invite her in for coffee and conversation and laughter and stories we've told/heard a million times.

The best part of rereading is that with each new venture through the book, I come away with something different.

conley730 6/22/2008 09:58:00 PM  

Have you read the new Plum book? It came out Tuesday, didn't it? I picked it up over the weekend, but I'm waiting to finish the book I'm reading right now before I pick it up. I'm not much of a re-reader. I'm the same way with movies. I have, however, re-read the Harry Potter books several times. I've also re-read countless books to my kids, but that doesn't really count! I'm going to brew up a special batch of NO GUILT pills just for you and send them your way! Read whatever you want to read. Don't let re-reading or needing to write get in the way. You deserve "YOU" time where you're not a teacher, writer or anything else just like the rest of us do.

Caryn 6/22/2008 11:08:00 PM  

Like you, I have about a million books in my TBR pile, which is one reason I don't re-read. Another is because I'm terrified that a book I loved the first time around will disappoint me when I read it again. It's happened before, and I hate that. I'd rather keep the memory of the delight I felt when I read it the first time.

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 12:14:00 AM  

Zoe, ohmigosh, I remember Nice! That was a great book! I think I've read Story of O a ton, too. I need to re-read Nice, though. I forgot about that book.

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 12:15:00 AM  

Melanie, you have no idea how much I envy your memory! Will Eat, Pray, Love make me cry, or is it a happy book?

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 12:18:00 AM  

Robin, I'm afraid to read Marley & Me. Isn't that about a dog? And doesn't the dog die in the end?

I read The Lord of the Rings once, but I read The Hobbit a ton when I was young. I'm going to write down Garth Nix. I've been in a mood for fantasy.

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 12:20:00 AM  

Amy, that's a great analogy. What was I thinking?

And so true about finding something new. I just read a Lee Child book twice in a row, and I learned so much.

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 12:23:00 AM  

Conley, I listened to Fearless Fourteen. I'm not sure what happened. I think I listened to quickly, and I think I was depressed or something. It was disappointing. I have to listen again, because it has to be better than I thought it was.

Come to think of it, ohmigosh, I have read each of those books twice, and listened to the audios one - four times!

WriteNow just told me about the Harry Potter audiobooks today. I think I'm going to have to get those next.

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 12:25:00 AM  

Caryn, I never thought of it that way, but you have a point. The Stephanie Plum books get better every time I read them. But then ... some books don't.

Aimless Writer 6/23/2008 08:00:00 AM  

When I was a kid I had a book that was a collection of stories. Rickitikitavi, Mark Twain and others. It disappeared along with my childhood. I'd love to have that book back.
I have that pile of unread books all over my house. With unemployment looming I just might get to it.
If I could read one book over again? Ha! I'd read them all just for the joy of the words.

Melanie Avila 6/23/2008 01:12:00 PM  

Spy, there could be tears, but it's an uplifting story. I laughed out loud on page 2, which is what sold it for me. :)

conley730 6/23/2008 02:57:00 PM  

I have a completely random question. What do the flashing red dots next to your blog roll mean?!?

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 03:39:00 PM  

Aimless, I have so many childhood books I wish I could find. They are such treasures! My Uncle used to send me these really pretty books, like Heidi and The Jungle Book, and they were hardbound with beautiful illustrations. The edges of the pages were all gold leaf.

I tried to find some of similar quality for my niece and nephew, but they don't seem to make them any more. :-(

spyscribbler 6/23/2008 03:42:00 PM  

Melanie, i'm going to look for it tomorrow!

Conley, those the blinks mean that blog has updated in the last 24 hours with new stuff! :-)

Zoe Winters 6/23/2008 04:21:00 PM  

hehe Nice is one of my top favorite books. I can SO Identify with the main character. And I think a lot of women can. It's satirical, but there is a lot of truth there.