Because I have so many books waiting to be read, I only stop to reread small patches–sentences or paragraphs. And I read with a pencil so I can underline them. So I won’t lose them. I’ll use a pen if I don’t have a pencil, but I prefer a pencil because if I make a mistake in the underlining or if my line is too crooked, I can erase and try again. I realize this is a little neurotic. Nevertheless, it’s true. I also used to have this thing that if I started underlining in blue ink, then I had to use blue ink throughout the book. Black ink, black ink. Thank goodness–no longer.
With examples from Mary Gaitskill’s story collection, Don’t Cry, here are some of the reasons I will stop the forward motion of reading to go back and reread (other than the negative reason that I don’t understand the sentence or paragraph):
- the language is beautiful: “the anonymous little haunts where songs were still alive and moving in the murky darkness”
- I’ve thought or felt the same thing before: “Music temporarily filled the empty space, soothing her and giving shape to the feelings she could not understand.”
- the author has put into words something I hadn’t even realized I thought or felt but that I recognize: “It was a cold fall night with a feeling of secret pockets and moving shadows.”
- the author has put into words something I’ve never thought about before: “Each scene covers and is covered and shows through the others, fractured, shifting, and shaded, like bits of color in a kaleidoscope.”
- the author has written about something in an entirely new way: “…even as I feel the anger, love rises up to enclose it. Inside love, anger still secretly burns–but it is a tiny flame. I can hold it like I once held my daughter in my body, a world within a world.”
- humor: “Teresa saw the false fingernails, now standing out from Dolores’s hands like evil thoughts.”
- I want to know how he or she did it–made the transition, allowed for the leap in my mind, brought me to this place.
I know I’ve left out many reasons that, now that I’m paying attention to this aspect of reading, I will realize in the next days.
Why do you go back to reread?
–and do you write in your books? (any ink issues?)