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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

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"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Humiliation through Rereading

This quote by Joseph Epstein rings true with me:
Rereading can be...a humility-inducing activity, when, on rereading, one learns that the first time around with a book, one's politics or fantasies or personal anxieties were in fact doing most of the work. Rereading books first read when young, one is inclined to weep for the naif one not so long ago was. And while at it one discovers, if one gets to reread the same book twenty years hence, one is even one now.
I can think of several books that I thought were true masterpieces when I read them twenty-five years ago that almost embarrass me now. For instance, if you can believe it, I once thought Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara was better than Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

I wonder if young readers of today will have the same experience with the Harry Potter books when they get older...


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posted by Nick Senger at 5:47 AM

Comments on "Humiliation through Rereading"


Anonymous MrsPi said ... (Friday, June 22, 2007 7:38:00 AM) : 

I *already* feel this way about the Harry Potter books. Along with everybody else (including my children, of course) I devoured them as they came out. I'll be in line (after my children) to read the last one. But all along I've found it IMPOSSIBLE to reread them. This is NOT the sign of a great book!


Anonymous Faith said ... (Friday, June 22, 2007 8:52:00 AM) : 

I have found I can't reread Hardy, D.H.Lawrence (I thought he was so cool,once upon a time. Now I just say "yuck!), or Hemingway.

But rereading can also renew and deepen one's appreciation for a well told tale. I reread Fahrenheit 451 recently and was blown away by it. I am sure I missed a lot of the references when I first read it as a teenager. I also recently reread My Friend Flicka and it's sequels and found them to be just as engrossing and moving as I did when I was a teen.


Blogger Julie D. said ... (Friday, June 22, 2007 8:56:00 AM) : 

Excellent quote ... I can't reread The Shell Seekers which once was one of my very favorite books...


Anonymous stefanie said ... (Friday, June 22, 2007 3:49:00 PM) : 

But Sword of Shannara is great while you are reading it. So much plot! So much action! But when you put it down you realize there wasn't much there at all. I'm afraid to ever re-read Clan of the Cave Bear.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (Friday, June 22, 2007 8:11:00 PM) : 



Blogger Nick Senger said ... (Saturday, June 23, 2007 6:17:00 AM) : 

Faith: I feel the same way about Hemingway. I haven't read much Lawrence, only his story "The Rocking -Horse Winner," which I enjoyed.

Stefanie: Yes, Sword of Shannara is a fun read. And even though when I first read it, I hated how it ended (I thought the final confrontation was very anticlimactice), I liked the message Brooks was sending about truth. Plus, Shannara helped bring fantasy to the mainstream. I think it was the first fantasy book to hit number one on the NYT bestseller list.


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