On the pleasure of re-reading your favourite books

I have recently been re-reading Moby-Dick and this time around I have loved the book even more than the first — if possible. The first time it was more about the awe of discovering the novel, its world and its unforgettable characters and scenes. The second time it is more about focusing on the details of each scene, on the language and compelling similes used. I am sure a third, fourth and even tenth reading will still give me something new.

So, even though I know life is short and the books worth reading are many, I believe that re-reading a favourite book deserves the time it “steals” from other readings. If written by “people who know what they are doing”, as my Literature professor used to say, books have a range of nuances and a number of levels that cannot be grasped at first reading.

Naturally, the first reading is magical as it’s a dive into the world and words of the book, it is the pleasure of discovery and the enthusiasm of having found something surprisingly beautiful. But the following readings are the pleasure of stopping and re-reading a certain passage, of looking up references or pondering on implied meaning and messages. It’s nice to meet familiar characters again and to get more personal with them, to try to make sense of their actions and thoughts. The author is speaking to us from another level, I am sure.

I know I am certainly missing out on 100 other wonderful books worth reading while I’m re-reading this favourite classic, but I don’t mind. I’d rather hear what this one has to say on a variety of levels and perspectives, rather than simply consuming books as if they were TV series. After all, the books worth reading are books worth re-reading, don’t you think?

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