Saturday’s Softcover: Re-reading

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Did you ever find a book that you just had to read more than once?

A book called The Eight, by Katherine Neville, was suggested to me.  It has a sort of time‑travel feel, but only because it bounces back and forth between the French Revolution and the “present day”‑‑‑which appeared to be in about the 1960’s.  I read it, upon recommendation.  If you like multiple time periods; hints of nefarious actors from Charlemagne to the Catherine the Great of Russia; nuns with secrets attempting to escape the Revolutionaries; early computer/tech use; high society, high fashion, high intensity mystery, and high jinks among oil moguls; a possibly world-shaking quest; and you’re a chess guru, I pass that recommendation along to you.

A couple of years later, I saw some big, thick, black book at the library.  I picked it up, thought it looked interesting and took it home to read.  I was so caught up in the complexities of the story that I didn’t realize until I was more than three‑quarters of the way through I’d read it before.  It was The Eight, which I’d a couple of years before—well, OK—maybe five years before.

Time passed, as it is wont to do.  One day I picked up some used books at a library, eventually opened one heavy tome, and discovered (maybe only half‑way through, this time) I’d read it before: yes, The Eight again.

The fourth time I read it, I chose to do so.  Ditto, the fifth time.  And I loved it each and every time.  It was fun, intriguing, thrill-packed.  Then, just a before it broke big, I read The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, and I thought “This reminds me, in a way, of the complexities of The Eight.”  How pleased I was when I found a critic who’d compared The DaVinci Code to . . . The Eight!  Then I was ready to read it AGAIN.

So, perhaps I was the only reader who thought The Eight was that good.  I don’t remember reading many books more than once.  Rarely more than twice.  Almost never, as an adult.

Oh, when I was a kid, I read all the Oz books (including the ones NOT by L. Frank Baum) over and over, and over again.  Ditto Alice in Wonderland, and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Oh, and even younger, all the Winnie-the-Pooh books.  Even the ones which were “only” poems.

As writers, do we think about those few people who might pick up our gem more than once?  No.  We’re generally focused on The One who will read it—ALL the way through—The Editor.  The Agent.  But what about the readers‑at‑large?  Will any one of them find it worth reading again?

Makes me think we’re too self‑absorbed.  We worry that no one will read it at all.  No one will like it, even if they do get to the last page.  Yet, if it’s a book of worth, SOMEone will give it a try, stick with it to the end.  And we’ll have made a friend.  For years.  Maybe even for Life.

We should concentrate on the worth of the writing itself, rather than the casual shopper at Costco or Sam’s.  Good old Horace may have had the right idea:

“You that intend to write what is worthy to be read more than once, blot frequently: and take no pains to make the multitude admire you,  content with a few judicious readers.” ~ Horace

See you day-after-tomorrow for Monday’s Moans

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