The Joy of Rereading

E Reading

“I’m reading!” my toddler insists.  E will not even look up to listen to my question or comment about the book he’s reading. When he’s into a book, he’s fully engaged.  Though I feel a little sad by this early independence, I also am very happy.

I have been reading to E since he was in the womb.  At 2 1/2, he makes his teacher-mama proud.  He loves books and often wants us to read to him.  He always asks for one more book and then another “one more book” before naps and bedtime.  When things get too quiet in the house and we can’t see E, we often find him in front of the bookshelf or in a corner of the room, surrounded by books, reading them to himself one by one.

E’s bookshelves have gotten a bit overcrowded lately.  I recently tried to hide away some seasonal and simpler books until E’s sister arrives in the fall and we get a new set of shelves for her room.  Tonight, after not seeing them for two weeks, E was asking specifically for some of these hidden books.  Even with newer books and library checkouts at his fingertips, E does not tire of reading the old books.  He simply loves to reread.

This makes me think about the rereading my students do and that I do as an adult. Many students seem to have their “go to” books–trusted books they know will satisfy again and again.  Sure, I want them to stretch their wings and find new titles, new genres.  I can’t deny them, however, that pure joy of a story well told.

I know that satisfaction too.  Like listening to a good song again and again, when I reread I rediscover old friends, uncover new beauty, and gain new understandings and appreciation.  Most times, I do choose to read new books.  So many books, so little time, right?   But what if I do take that break from the new and go back to the old?  What might I gain?  Looking at the joy on my son’s face as he pours over each page of that worn, drool-encrusted book I tried to hide, I think I might gain quite a bit!

My unfinished list of books to reread:

  • Walden, by Henry David Thoreau–Fell in love with it at 16, though I couldn’t fully understand it.  Reread it at 25.  What a different perspective as I reread!  How would it appeal to me at 40?
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott–A childhood favorite–I may make myself wait a bit longer and read this with my children.
  • Any Harry Potter book, by J.K. Rowling–I know what will happen, but I never tire of the characters and the pure imagination behind the series.
  • The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver–This was the first of her novels that I read, and I felt like I had found my author-soul sister.
  • The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx–She’s my other favorite author, and this is the first of hers that I read.  I still can picture and feel the stark, chilly setting.
  • Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini–Such a tragic and beautiful story!

What books would be on your list?

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Stolen Moments

The other night, I finished a wonderful Barbara Kingsolver novel, Flight Behavior, after about a year of reading it off and on.  On social media, I referred to my gratitude for all of those solon moments that I had with that book throughout the year.  This got me thinking about the phrase, “stolen moments.”  Usually things stolen have a negative connotation–stolen wallet, stolen identity, stole a loaf of bread and spent 17 years as a French prisoner (couldn’t resist a random Les Miserables reference).

Stolen moments, however, has a positive connotation.  They are those moments we squeeze out of the must-do’s and have-to’s of our ordinary, busy lives that help center us and feed our soul, even for a bit.  They are the times in your day or week that you refuse to let yourself feel guilty about because you know you really need them.  As a working mom and grad student, I have probably made room for these moments less than I should.  Who hasn’t at some time in their life?  As a teacher currently on summer break, I am afforded many more of these.  Even though grad classes and the summer “to do” list both linger as constant reminders of the real world, I see summer as a time when I can regain that balance in my life.

So why blog?  I love to write. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for pleasure is definitely on my stolen moments list.  I want to try to make a little more time for it.  I want to cherish these moments as they come.  Maybe smell a flower or two along the way. Perhaps this blog can be my own way of documenting these special times (and perhaps recording other thoughts and observations along the way).  Who knows if the blog will last?  Who knows if I will have more than one reader? (Hi Mom.)  Stolen moments can’t be so well planned.  All I’ve learned is to just enjoy then when they come.

Some of my stolen moments (in no particular order):

  • Reading even a page or two out of a good book or a collection of poetry
  • Jotting a profound or trivial thought (often they are hard to tell apart) in my writer’s notebook
  • Reading an extra book at bedtime with my son and actually staying awake for it myself
  • Holding my husband’s hand
  • Reading aloud an extra chapter with my students instead of moving on to the next lesson
  • Cuddling with my dog
  • Truly listening to a song like I’m blasting it through headphones back in my dorm room in 1994
  • Dancing to a full song with my son (though this takes extra endurance lately)
  • Pausing to really feel the flutters and movements going on in my pregnant belly
  • Sitting outside and soaking it in (the sun, the air, the sounds, my son’s pure joy)
  • Ice cream–truly savored
  • Really looking at an old family photo–remembering
  • Playing the piano (though this moment is often stolen back–or made new–by my son, who tries to join the fun)
  • Singing my heart out to a favorite song

What’s on your list??