A cottage industry of book-related news reminds us that books are dying, or dead, or on life support. But as librarians, we know that’s not the whole story. On National Book Lovers’ Day, let’s look at loving books and re-reading them. As children, learning to read opens doors for us. Laura Miller thinks “the first book we fall in love with shapes us every bit as much as the first person we fall in love with.” That attachment affects choices we make in our lives.
Re-reading favorite stories to your children brings them back into your adult life. Do you re-read for familiarity? For new insights? Re-reading books as an adult can be a pleasant rediscovery, relaxation and comfort, even self-discovery as Emma Court noted in this week’s Atlantic Monthly. Goodreads lists J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince among books most reread by its users.
Re-reading favorites can open new insights, as therapist and writer Rosalie Knecht counsels in her “Dear Book Therapist” column. Is your favorite re-read a summer tradition? Having spent time in E. B. White’s Maine, the Blue Hill Fair remains as full of great rides, fried dough, and spin art now as it was in 1952 when Charlotte’s Web was published. But I read White’s ending differently now, as I value my friends as we age together and share our experiences with children and life. White’s book ends: “Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
The Libraries’ Book Love interviews invite members of the Vanderbilt community and visiting speakers to reflect on books they’ve loved and reread. One visiting speaker from London loved Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, partly because she waited eagerly for each new book with her mother throughout her teens. A faculty member recalled how Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited characters and setting helped him navigate his transition to college. Classics like Little Women and Charlotte’s Web made several people’s lists, but so did Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Alchemist, and Masquerade. Recent interviews cover historian Scott Ellsworth, artist Ke Francis, students Kelly Perry (’18) and Jorge Sales Diaz (’18) as well as poets Lucha Corpi, Teresa Dovalpage, Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Joy Castro. Come check out their favorites, see what you may share or find a new author to read. What book do you love?