February 28, 2011

A Bit of Bookishness

I like books that have been well-loved. Yellowing pages, folds in the spine, a small tear here or there, the previous owner's name written on the inside cover. And the smell of old books has always been a favorite of mine. I don't much care for writing or highlighting in books, because it's too distracting for me when I'm reading - although I do like reading other people's marginalia.

Roy sat down beside me on the couch last night and cracked open his copy of How to Practice. I say he cracked it open because it has so much water damage (from something having to do with our aquarium at the first apartment we shared together) that there is no way that book can be opened quietly. I used to hate water damage but lately I've come to embrace it. Recently my water bottle leaked all over the contents of my bag, and now this book's pages are all wavy. I've forever left my mark on that book. I will always remember how it got water damaged, what bag I was using, what leaky water bottle it was.

I like thinking about the lives of objects and how they intersect with our own. There's much to be learned by what we surround ourselves with and the damages (for lack of a better word) those things incur along the way. One of Charlie's current favorite books lost a page today. But it wasn't any ordinary page - oh no, it was the page that Charlie makes me read over and over again as he says "Guck! Guck!" excitedly. And tonight I plan to tape the page back into the book and for the rest of that book's life it'll have another story to tell: the one about the little blonde-haired boy who loved ducks so much he would always turn back to that page.

Recently I watched two movies (both adapted from books): Into the Wild and The Time Traveler's Wife. I got excited about rereading these books to see how they compared with the movies. I did reread Into the Wild and was reminded why I consider it one of my favorite books. So for a couple of weeks now I've been thinking of my favorite books, and today I decided to go through our bookcase and separate my favorites from the rest. And there are more than I could remember off the top of my head, way more.

My plan is to reread these books to see if they still hold up. I feel a little weird about doing this because some books/movies/TV shows/songs that I once loved don't stand the test of time, and I want to preserve my good memories of them. (I love love loved Cloak and Dagger when I was a kid, but Roy and I watched it about five years ago and were horrified to discover what a cheesy little flick it is.) But still, I want to revisit these books that have stuck with me for various reasons throughout the years. And maybe post about them here. Tall order, considering I am averaging about a post a week these days. Eh, we'll see.

Here are a couple that come to mind that once had a profound impact on me; these have already been reread in recent years:

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb - I read this in the midst of one of the strangest years of my life. I was 21 years old and this story of twin brothers resonated so much with me that I bawled my eyes out during certain parts of it. I reread it just a few years ago, in 2007 or 2008, and while it's still a good book, I ended up getting rid of it. It didn't hit me at that gut level it had when I was 21 and feeling so "untwinned" (a word the author uses in the book).

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - I had to have been in junior high when I read this book. It's the story of a mentally challenged young man who, by some scientific miracle, is able to become smart and have a normal life. The end of the story, though, is so heartbreaking and hit really close to home. This is another one of those that I reread in the past five years or so, and it didn't sucker punch me like it did when I was super young. Maybe because I already knew what was going to happen.

Four Past Midnight by Stephen King - I very much enjoyed reading Stephen King novels before I became somewhat of a book snob in college. Some of his books, especially the ones written in the 90s, really impressed me. This one was no exception. I loved all four novellas in this book and revisited it when Secret Window came out. Well, my love for that book kind of died when I realized that Stephen King really needs a good editor. Because you know, he just overwrites. Kind of like me and the way I do on this blog. But different, obviously, because he's probably a gazillionaire and we can barely pay our bills.

So anyway, what's your favorite book(s)? Ever reread it/them years later? Are they still your favorites?


Eric's Mommy said...

Hehe, Cloak and Dagger is awesome!

phairhead said...

This is why my book collection is so large! U always read & re-read & re-read everything

Anonymous said...

I love the book recommendations- thanks for sharing!!