Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rice Pudding Printed In Times New Roman

What makes us read novels more than once? It can hardly be a tense plot as we already know how the plot unfolds. It might possibly be the quality of writing - I have read Scott Fitzgerald on many an occasion just for the pleasure of the words - but it is a rare writer that can achieve such heights. It might, of course, be familiarity : a kind of literary comfort food - rice pudding printed in Times New Roman - but there are limits (I am told) to how much rice pudding you can eat.

I pose the question because I have just started reading C P Snow's "Strangers And Brothers" sequence of novels again: for the third time. I suspect it is a personal thing, a relationship between characters real and characters fictional, that brings me back to these eleven linked novels. As I read the books I keep coming across bits of my life, people I remember and people I have forgotten, incidents and events, even places : all mixed up, shuffled around, out of context like a lightly troubled dream.

I have just embarked on the first in the series - George Passant - and there are still another ten waiting for me. In a moment of unnecessary contemplation the other day I thought to myself "this will be the last time I read the sequence". But that is silly. I suspect I can manage one more full reading before I leave the library of life.

11 comments:

  1. I suffer from bookshelves, and Kindle, stuffed with books I still have to read for the first time. Like Alan, my card for the library of life is also running a little short on credit, so some will probably remain unread.

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  2. I do that too, Alan. I recently re-read Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, and now I'm re-reading my favorite books by Annie Dillard. Getting re-acquainted with an old friend is always pleasant.

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  3. I think I read these too young. They all seemed to be about old people. I suppose if I read them now they would all seem to be about young people! :)

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  4. I seem to read about 1 new book (new to me) to about 20 rereads of books I've read already, sometimes 4 or 5 times.And I love to read a series like the Angela Thirkell Barsetshire novels (about 29 or 30 of them) or maybe the Chalet School books by Elinor M Brent-Dyer (about 60) and yes I know these are for children but it doesn't stop me reading them again. And neither does the fact that I know some of them off by heart! And of course I have many unread books on my shelves.

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  5. a good series is always hard to put down. There are many books I would like to reread. My daughter rereads many books as she says there's always more to get out of them.

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  6. I suspect you'll have many more readings of it! I hadn't heard of this before, so I'll have to check it out!

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  7. I do this to so many books. Always something new to unearth. Or some classics like Jane Eyre, to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon.

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  8. Oh dear, there must be something wrong with my literary appreciation. I do NOT like to read books twice unless they are old literature (19th century or older perhaps) and I can't stand to watch a movie or TV program twice. I would if I were going to analyze it and see what made it worthwhile. I do like trying to see what makes things work or how it could be made better.

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  9. Oh my goodness! There are some books I must have read 20 times, and TV shows I have watched just as often. The characters become dear friends and I miss them if I don't watch or read them again. I know the plots and some chunks of script off by heart. I imagine ChisJ that your house isn't crowded with DVD box sets? I have to confess though, Alan, that I don't know this C P Snow sequence.

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  10. I have a favorite book I grab and read from all the time. Aldo Leopolds a Sand County Almanac..it is so me. I think once that connection is made we just best go with the flow and read them over and over:)

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  11. CPS is definitely on my list of novelists what I haven't read but would like to when I get round to it. I'll take your repeat visits as a recommendation.

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