Re-reading is challenging…

Well it’s a few weeks since I embarked on a self-imposed challenge not to buy any new books, but instead to read or re-read titles languishing on my shelves (or piled up by the bed, in the bathroom, on my desk – oh you know the score).

So how am I doing?

Umm. First the good news – I’ve managed to avoid buying any new books (for me that is, for some reason, at precisely the same time I start this challenge, my two daughters, brought up from birth in a seriously bookish house, but until now hardly avid readers, have decided that now is the time to be smitten by the reading bug. This is good news, so obviously I’m going to encourage it).

IMAG1644When I started, I was waiting to read A TIme To Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor.

It’s a short book, describing Leigh Fermor’s experience of monastic retreats. I was intrigued, because in the distant past, I went on a couple of silent retreats and still vividly remember the roller-coaster of emotions I felt while keeping the silence. As I’ve got older, I do feel myself valuing silence much more than I did in those days. I’m not sure I could honestly say I enjoyed the experience back then, but now, I’m pretty convinced that I’d welcome it, at least for a few days. It was fascinating for me to read about Leigh Fermor’s response to longer periods of silence and the rhythmic cycle of the monastic day. I read it, drawing parallels with my own experience and I wonder how it would come across if the reader hadn’t had any similar experience.

After that, I picked up Alison Weir’s Isabella, She-Wolf of France.


I have managed to re-read it – even though I knew how it ended! It was just as interesting as the first read through, and had me wondering how women lived in the Middle Ages, but I think perhaps my views on Isabella have hardened a little over time. I’m sure she faced some truly hideous situations, but I’m not sure she’d have been someone I liked much on a personal level.

And now I have to confess – I think I’m experiencing a few withdrawal symptoms. I have been very good at avoiding browsing on Amazon, but not having a new book to look forward to (even though I’ve plenty of unread books sitting here), is making me a bit anxious. And I can’t seem to feel the same anticipation and excitement about the books I have lined up. Why is that?

Anyway, I’m not about to cave in, so I’ve decided that next I need to read something I haven’t read before – maybe I need to balance a re-read against a first time – so, what will it be?

In a moment of nostalgia, last summer I downloaded to the Kindle the complete works of Anthony Trollope. (I should say I read The Prime Minister for ‘A’ Level and didn’t mind it – maybe because it wasn’t that long after the BBC had serialised The Pallisers). At that time, I remember my English teacher, Alan Holden of Bromsgrove (the same wonderful teacher the actor Mark Williams credited with being one of his heroes – see here), saying that he loved these novels and re-read them regularly. I wondered then what is was about Trollope’s novels that marked them as special to such a widely read teacher as being worthy of re-reading. I’m going to take him at his word, and give them a go. I wonder if he’d be amused to know how long his influence could still be felt.

So off I go to charge the Kindle. I’ll take them one at a time in sequence – it’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

It could be a long summer…


– )O( –

If anyone else is sticking with the challenge, I’d love to know how you’re getting on too.

Author: Anny

English countryside, old places, making art.

12 thoughts on “Re-reading is challenging…”

  1. Re-read, yes it is good habit. I have three thrice my 1500 books in French. The tour of reading takes about 10 years. Now I am on the fourth tour. 🙂

  2. I have the bug for travel books at the moment, also I have a couple of hundred paper backs that I have not read yet, I am keeping them for my old age…oh dear seem to have got there already 🙂 Is non fiction counted !!! as I have been good and only bought non fiction.

    1. Oh no, please don’t let me make you feel guilty – I’m keeping a ‘wish-list’ and as soon as it gets too much for me, I’ll no doubt be hitting Amazon et al. x

  3. Bought 2 books in the charity shop today. I was then directed to the box of free books I’d missed. Found 4 more books there. Plus I have loads on my Kindle. Think I’m ok for a while.

  4. I used to avoid buying books since I also have a home stuffed with them. I tried to use the library instead. But since I’ve gone digital, just keep buying.

    I do re-read a few classics a year, especially books my children will shorty be reading in school. Most recently I re-read the Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbord. It was fun to read old paperbacks from my much younger days, but I can hardly imagine how much or little I got out of those books as a teenager.

    Going on a tear of Trollope sounds great fun…

    1. I tried to re-read The Lord of The Rings when the films came out and found I really couldn’t get into it again – sometimes I think we find books at the right time. I know Trollope isn’t very fashionable these days, but there are some good stories there.

  5. Well fiorst I had to finish my library bnooks before we headed off to France, but since then I’ve been rereading Bill Bryson’s “Mother Tongue” (great fun and very informative for lovers of language) and am about to start one of Alexander McCall Smith’s Maa Ramotswe books, which I bought last year and haven’t read yet. I don’t have an e-reader, but have a LOT of books which I’ve either never read or read so long ago that I can easily read them again, so it ‘so far, so good’ from me. 🙂

  6. I’ve read those Alexander McCall Smith books – I have a little challenge every so often to find series of books in the charity shops – this was one of them. They’re excellent feel good reads. I’m going to look out for the Bill Bryson one – it’ll have to go on the wish-list for now.

  7. I’ve had a copy of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods by my bed for about 3 years. I’ve read it from start to finish several times, and now I just open it at random and read a page or two – two or three times a week. It’s such a detailed and diverse story, and the writing is so good that it’s always of interest. I do read other things as well of course!

    1. I do think that some books have a different sort of staying power – I’ll have to add this one to my wish-list for after the challenge.

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