IMG_2013One of the comments on the last post has me thinking about when, during the process of reading a book, I will go back to reread.

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.

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Cadoozles are my favorite pencils-5 inches long, the perfect size

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):

  1. the language is beautiful: “the anonymous little haunts¬† where songs were still alive and moving in the murky darkness”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.”
  6. humor: “Teresa saw the false fingernails, now standing out from Dolores’s hands like evil thoughts.”
  7. 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?)

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