The Road Paved with Novels Previously Read

Some people, I have discovered, do not reread books. I resisted the urge to end that sentence with multiple exclamation points, but that’s how it feels to me, the refusal to reread — shocking! Exclamatory! Worthy of gaped mouth and wide eyes.

You may understand this to mean that I am an avid rereader. And why not? If you love a book once, doubtless you will love it more upon rereading it! You may even discover that it contains unplumbed depths!

In fact, I’ve been in a rereading spiral lately.

These past few months, I can count on one hand the number of new (or new-to-me) books I’ve read. Instead, I’ve been plowing through books I’ve read before.

Sue Grafton started it, I think. Well, not exactly Sue, herself — she and I aren’t exchanging emails or anything. But her Kinsey Millhone books.

Wait — now I remember. My DAUGHTER started it. We were in my office and she wanted to read to me (note: she is three and a half and so far can read “cat,” “mom,” and “dad” and can recognize her first name). I sat down in my chair, expectant, assuming she would dash into her room and return with one of the Frog and Toad books, or maybe The Skunk, which is one of my favorite picture books.

Instead, she went to one of the three bookcases in my office and pulled out D Is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton.

Sometime after she’d read it to me (“read”), I think I read the blurb on the back and thought, Hmmm, I don’t remember this at all!

And that, somehow, led to me reading the entire series from A Is for Alibi all the way through to Q Is for Quarry, which I am currently hosting on my nightstand, having finally lost my Grafton-fueled steam.

I can read books at a pretty good clip, if I have the time. But still: sixteen books takes awhile to get through. But, even now that I’ve kind of cooled on my Grafton frenzy, I still haven’t really gotten back to the new stuff. The recent Guardian article by Margaret Atwood (“What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump”) prompted me to pick up The Handmaid’s Tale again. And once that was done, it was only logical to move on to Orwell’s 1984. Does this mean I’m going to have to (“have to”) reread Brave New World next? And then Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy? Then where does it stop?

Because my next thought is something along the lines of, Well, if I’m rereading old favorites, might as well go through the entire Tana French canon, too. And while I’m looking at the Tana French section of books in my office, my eye falls on my Jonathan Safran Foer books, and I wonder if I’d be more into Here I Am if I reread Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — you know, get into the Foer mainframe. And that makes me think about Foer’s ex-wife, Nicole Krauss, who has a new book coming out in September, so I wander over to the Ks to run my fingers across my three Krauss titles, wondering if History of Love is etched as deeply into my brain as I think it is and shouldn’t I probably find out. And then Jhumpa Lahiri’s name catches my eye, and I feel that creeping book hunger to reread The Namesake, which will undoubtedly inspire me to reread all of her books.

It’s endless, this desire to read, to reread. And it’s both thrilling and shattering to know that I will never, ever reach the end. There will always be another good book to read. An old favorite waiting to be rediscovered.

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