I’ve come to the conclusion that all book lovers can be divided into two distinct categories: those who return to their favorite books again and again, and those who almost never read the same book twice. I fall decidedly within the latter category: with so many excellent books in the world, I have difficulty committing the reading time to a book that has already been checked off my list. As a result, I’ve only ever reread a handful of books, and even some of the titles I claim as all-time favorites have only been granted a single read. However, an enlightening rereading experience last November has me rethinking my anti-rereading stance.
As I shared in my last Reading Round-Up, I was disappointed when The Nightingale was chosen as my book club’s November selection. I had read the novel just a few months before and was reluctant to return to the book so soon, particularly since my first experience with the novel was somewhat underwhelming. For the sake of our book club discussion, I decided to reread the book via audiobook, and I had a surprisingly positive impression this second time through. I suppose this difference in my own opinion speaks to the influence our circumstances hold over our opinions of the things we read: sometimes a book just needs to enter our life at the right time to be fully appreciated. There are books that have disappointed me in the past that I would likely love now. On the flip side, I might find myself less than enthralled by a second reading of a book that I’d previously loved. My experience with The Nightingale helped me realize that revisiting a book might be a risk worth taking, and it inspired me to incorporate a specific “reread” category into my 2016 reading challenge.
I was having a hard time settling on a book I wanted to reread, but my inspiration came at Christmas time. My aunt and uncle like to give themed gifts each Christmas, and this year we all received an adult coloring book and a handmade pencil pouch filled with colored pencils. The gifts were accompanied by the following note:
After reading Uncle Bob’s reference to Robert Fulghum’s classic, I immediately knew that this was the book I wanted to revisit. I first read All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten several years ago and remember loving it, despite my general aversion to nonfiction books at the time. I was curious to see how this quirky collection of essays would hold up to my added years and shifts in reading preferences. I’m so happy to report that I loved this book just as much the second time through! Robert Fulghum is a former Unitarian minister, and his simple musings are entertaining and surprisingly insightful. Fulghum brings a healthy balance of cynicism and imagination to his storytelling, and I was amazed by his ability to glean the most powerful lessons from the simplest of observations. I found myself laughing out loud at a number of his anecdotes, while others had me wiping tears from my eyes. More than anything, his stories left me inspired to contemplate the profound messages within the ordinary moments of my own life.
I listened to the audio version of this book, which is read by the author. Fulghum has a warm, reassuring voice that is perfectly suited to narration. I particularly enjoyed his brief introductions to each story; I don’t know whether or not these intros are included in the print version of the book, but they were especially poignant when hearing them read by the author. Because this was an anniversary edition of the book, Fulghum shares his original thoughts on each story, as well as any new insights. It was a fun coincidence that Fulghum was returning to a previously-written work, just as I was returning to a previously read one! I must say that this is an excellent book—one that might even be deserving of a third read! My Rating: 4.5 stars.
Other Books I Considered for This Category
Once I settled on the acceptability of reading books a second time, I found it challenging to narrow my choices down to just one book. Here are a few other books I’ve read in the past that I would like to revisit.
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christe: I frequently cite this mystery as my favorite novel from my favorite author. Though mysteries are never quite as good once you know the culprit, I think (hope!) I would still be entertained by this spine-chilling tale.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey: It’s been less than a year since I first read this book (which topped my list of favorite reads in 2015). However, there is SO MUCH wisdom here, and I’d like to revisit the book a section at time so that I can better absorb and apply Covey’s advice.
Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, by Pamela Druckerman: I remember being fascinated by this book when I read it a few years ago. I’m curious to see if my opinion would change now that I’m bringing up a baby of my own.
The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom: Corrie ten Boom is one of my personal heroes, and I reflect on her story often. I haven’t read this book since high school and I know I would glean even more inspiration from it as an adult.
The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling: This is one series that I actually have reread—numerous times!—but it’s been a couple of years since my last visit to Hogwarts and I think it’s time for another dose of J.K. Rowling’s magic.
What is your stance on rereading past favorites? Are there any books you are hoping to reread in 2016? I’d love to hear what they are!