Thursday, July 23, 2015
Books We Wish We Hadn't Read
LUCY BURDETTE: I spent a few hours volunteering at the annual book sale to benefit the Scranton Library in my Connecticut town last week. As I worked straightening the assigned rows, I saw many books I'd read. I know some people like to reread books, and I always save my favorites, thinking I'll want to read them again sometime. Truth is, I very rarely reread. There are too many new books coming out. And besides, I already know what happens!
But I can think of a few that I read with such effortless joy that I only wish I hadn't read them, so I could experience them for the first time again. Some that fall in this category are THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett, THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY by Gabrielle Zevin, I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE by Wally Lamb, SHIZUKO'S DAUGHTER by Kyoko Mori.
How about you Red readers? Are you a rereader? What books do you wish were new to you?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: On, someone this very day told me she'd never read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD , and had just downloaded it. ( I know, risky territory here). I was so --almost envious! Imagine reading that for the first time! But on the other hand, I do think *when* we read them makes a huge difference. I loathed AGE OF INNOCENCE when I was forced to read it in high school. Later I realized how brilliant it was. I'd love to read WINDS OF WAR for the first time, and oh, BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. And THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD! And for thriller fun, DAY OF THE JACKAL. And CHARM SCHOOL. Oh, THE STAND! (For which, in 1980, I called in sick to work when I was't sick.) My favorite is WINTERS TALE, but you know, I'm happy with having read it when I did.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I feel like a heretic when I say that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is not one of the books I'd choose to experience anew. I liked it, but didn't love it, and have never been tempted to reread it. And there are so many other books that left me buzzing with the joy and excitement of discovery--A WRINKLE IN TIME, Ray Bradbury's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruis Zafon, POSSESSION by A.S. Byatt. But you know what I would REALLY love to be just discovering? The Harry Potter books. Imagine being able to read the series for the first time without having to wait in between books!
RHYS BOWEN: I am definitely a re-reader. I have my go-to old favorites for times when my brain is too overloaded to take in new material or I am too stressed to handle a difficult tale. I have every Agatha Christie and re-read the ones I can't quite remember (and always do remember in the middle). I too loved Possession and have read it several times, savoring the brilliant poetry. When I was younger I read THE LORD OF THE RINGS every six months. I'm afraid the movies sort of spoiled that treat for me! And how I wish that someone had just handed it to me and said "You'll enjoy this." But would I love it as much as I did at sixteen?
When I look at my book shelves and see so many books that have given me pleasure I sometimes wonder whether I will get around to re-reading them or should just donate them all to the Friends of the Library sale. After all it's so easy to find anything on Kindle these days.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'll agree with Debs and say the Harry Potter series. I actually did get to read them as they first came out, before they were on the big screen, because the Smithie and The Boy were exactly the right age as the books were first being published. I read the first three books aloud at bedtime, and by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, they were reading on their own. It was wonderful to come to the story without knowing anything about it and without being influenced by the movie version.
Other books? Almost anything by Michael Chabon. John Cheever's short stories, which I read in college and loved. Pride and Prejudice - can you imagine reading it and not knowing practically every line? What a joy. Oh, and The Stand by Stephen King, for the pleasure of scaring myself to half to death like I did when I first devoured it - stuck in bed with a miserable cold!
HALLIE EPHRON: Me three on the Harry Potter series. And "Holes" by Louis Sachar, a YA novel featuring Stanley Yelnats (whose name works backwards and forwards) and the powerful stink of smelly sneakers. W. P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe" for those among us who love baseball and poetic prose. Carol Shields' "The Stone Diaries" celebrating a home-centered life (Carol Shields: "I didn't think there were enough novels about women who didn't make the historical record.")
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Part of the joy of having a young kid around is sharing books you love with him. So, this summer, in addition to graphic novels, Kiddo and I are reading the Llyod Alexander books, starting with THE BOOK OF THREE, but I hope going on to THE BLACK CALDRON, THE HIGH KING, and TARAN WANDERER. Does anyone else remember these books? Such fun.
But in terms of books I could read fresh -- yes, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. And POSSESSION. And THE SECRET HISTORY. Let's see, THE STAND, yes, Julia! And MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, A WINTER'S TALE, NEVERWHERE, WICKED, THE LITTLE STRANGER, and EYE OF THE NEEDLE, PRACTICAL MAGIC, I CAPTURE THE CASTLE.... Whew! So many amazing books. Oh, and everything by Laurie Colwin.... But rereading in most cases is really almost as good.
LUCY: Yes, Susan, Memoirs of a Geisha belongs on my list and Laurie Colwin too. The lucky thing for me? I've only read the first Harry Potter (I know, I know!), so I have many more to go...How about you readers, which ones would you like to read from scratch?
FChurch, you are the winner of Jefferson Bass's The Breaking Point? Please email Debs through her website to claim your prize. And the winners of Sherry Harris's books are Libby Dodd and Jadedcup Schubert. Congratulations everyone!