Thursday Thoughts - Discussion about books

Thursday Thoughts is a weekly feature on Ashley’s Blog Ok, Let’s Read. Each thursday, Ashley would open a discussion related to reading. This week, the topic is “rereads”.

“Do you/have you ever reread books/a book? What do you look for when rereading a book? What have you found in the way of changes in your opinions when you reread a book, if any? What books have you reread, if any? Would you ever reread a book that you didn’t like the first time around?”

Feel free to join and/or check other people’s opinion on Ashley’s post!

No.
Just, no.
I don’t like rereading books.

There are some many books out there and rereading one takes time away from discovering new books. I read a book twice so few times that I can actually remember which ones: three novels come to mind.

The Rougon-Macquart by Emile Zola

First one is from Emile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. Emile Zola was my favourite writer for most of my teenage years. I love how he depicts people’s life in the most unforgiving ways. I adore his writing style and how he brings the world to reflect his characters’ emotions. I reread “Une page d’amour” (“A Love Episode”) with fifteen years of interval: I didn’t focus on the same thing at all, and I interpreted people’s behaviour very differently! The first time, I was 13 and I was struck by Pauline’s suffering – the little girl. In my twenties, I felt strongly for the mother, tortured by her daughter’s jealousy! Both times, the novel felt utterly moving, tragic and beautiful.

Le Rouge et le Noir, by Stendhal

This second one (“The Red and Black”) was a school reread only two years after I read it on my own. The first time, I very flatly hated it. I couldn’t get the point of the story, I found Julien – the main character – really dumb and I was bored to death. However and to my surprise, I enjoyed the second reading. I was also astonished at how much I actually forgot about the plot. I realized how our maturity influences our appreciation of a book.

Belle du Seigneur, by Albert Cohen

The third one is “Belle du Seigneur”, by Albert Cohen. This is my favourite book ever ever ever. I read it in high school. I borrowed it from the library because it was the thickest novel on the shelves and I wanted to “stay” in the same world for a while (did you ever feel abandoned by a character when you finish a book?). It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me angry. This book is unbelievable. A few years after I read “Belle du Seigneur”, I bought a nice edition of it and I re-read it. Once again, I was surprised at how much I had forgotten and at what I didn’t notice the first time. On the other hand, the book is so rich, so deep, so intense, that you are bound to miss or forget some of it. Against all odds, I’m planning to re-read this book. Several times. I just know it’s going to impress me again, to make me wonder about human nature, and I know it will be like reading a new book again.

As a rule, I don’t reread books. But there are some gigantic masterpiece that I just need to reread because I couldn’t absorb it all the first time. I know also that a book can feel very different depending on our experiences in life. As we get older and change, we sympathize with characters that left us cold before. We get sensitive to different issues. We are also able to pick up underlying meaning that we couldn’t previously. A reread is not really a repeat, but rather a deeper reading.

But still, I don’t do it. Much.

Which book could you reread over and over again?