Re-reading is fundamental too

December 14, 2011 – Looking for a good book to curl up with on a cold winter night? Perhaps there’s one closer than you think – right on your bookshelf.

For some people re-reading their favorite books is a pleasure, but it never appealed to me. It’s one thing to watch a movie again and again, or even one of your favorite TV shows now that DVDs and DVRs make it so convenient. But I could never grasp the desire to re-read something I’ve already finished, mainly because it’s too much work.

What makes people re-read books I always wondered? Could it be the quality of the writing? The memories the story evokes? Or just the pure love of reading? I never understood it until I decided to re-read an old novel by Helen Van Slyke recently and after loving every minute of it, my new rule is I can re-read books if I can’t remember them.

I first read Van Slyke’s “No Love Lost” in the late 70s. After discovering it stacked away on a bookshelf, and with nothing else available, I picked it up with a smile on my face. I remember loving the book, but I had no recollection of what it was about, even after reading the little teaser inside. So I headed off to bed and discovered a brand new story awaiting me, one that didn’t have me running out to the bookstore in the cold to buy.

After finishing it, I ran back to that same shelf and dusted off a few more books from that era. I kept them, I suppose because they were hard covers, back from the day when I used to belong to several book of the month clubs. Not only was the reader in me wildly entertained over the next several weeks because of the seemingly new stories awaiting me every night, but also I re-discovered that books written during the 70s and 80s were filled with intrigue, and I loved them.

It was the era of the family saga, and authors who wrote those engrossing tales included Belva Plain, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Shirley Conran, and Judith Krantz to name a few, and perhaps the master of them all, Sidney Sheldon. They created stories with richly woven characters that you loved or hated, and although quite soapy at times, each chapter ended with a cliffhanger that kept you glued from the beginning to the end. Those stories were also reminiscent of what we watched on television back then when we followed the family sagas on Dynasty, Dallas and Knots Landing.

Sure, I love many books written by today’s authors; they’re usually modern and funny – think Bridget Jones’ Diary or any novel by Jennifer Weiner, but right now they seem to pale in comparison of the sentimental family sagas that spanned the generations back in the day.

Presently, I’m re-reading Sidney Sheldon’s “Bloodline” and I couldn’t be happier.

Thank heavens for my short memory. It’s saving me a bundle.

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