Tuesday, August 6, 2013

'To be read', versus deja vu

Recently, I came across an online conversation where someone posted books that they liked to read, and re-read, and re-re-read.  To my utter astonishment, there were a lot who chimed in with their own lists of books they liked to read over and over.  This is not an attitude that I share, or even understand.

About 60% of my fiction consumption is by way of recorded books while I'm driving in the car.  A couple days ago I finished a book, so I grabbed the next and popped in the first CD.   I listened to the first 2 paragraphs, and a sense of dread began to creep over me.  I listened to the next 2 paragraphs, and now there was no doubt...  I had already read/listened to this book.  Oh Arrgggh..  I HATE when that happens.. Fortunately I had another recorded book handy, so I wasn't stuck listening to the sounds of silence.  And I thought back to that online conversation.

It's not that I can't stand any sort of repeat... I'm willing to watch Big Bang Theory episodes over and over, I've seen Thelma and Louise several times, and I've watched Dirty Dancing so many times I can recite much of the dialog.   I'll even do the same jigsaw puzzle more than once.  But for some reason, re-reading a book has no appeal to me.

As a young reader, one of my favorite books was One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss. I was entranced by The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis.  I delved into the world of science fiction and became enamored with the works of Heinlein, and Asimov, and Norton and Farmer. Over the years, I expanded my reading to ...  well, you get the idea.  I read a lot, and I enjoy much of what I read, and some of it I enjoy immensely.  But I don't read the same book more than once.  Ever.

Part of the reason for this, is that I just don't.  But the other part is that my 'to be read' list is already huge, and it grows faster than I can dig my way through.  At this point, I figure I need to retire right now and live until I'm 103, in order to get through my TBR list.... and that's if I don't add anything new!

It's very easy to find posts  in which people highlight what they've read in the past month, year, whatever.  Frankly, I've done that myself... if you're interested, I posted my 2012 list in February.  And now I've found people who are posting books they like to read over and over.  So I thought I'd do something a bit different.  I'm not going to bore you with my entire TBR list, but I will share some of the entries.  I can't tell you whether any of these are great, mediocre, or bad since I haven't read them yet, only that they piqued my curiosity.

Wednesday's Child, by Alan Zendell.  A guy suddenly finds himself living his days out of order.
The Case Files of Thomas Carney, by Cleo Wolfe.  A guy dies, and starts working for an afterlife detective agency.
Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut.  Set in the year 2081, addressing Amendments 211, 212 and 213 to the Constitution, mandating that all Americans are fully equal, no matter what it takes to achieve equality.
Six of One, by Joann Spears.  A woman about to get married to someone who's had 6 previous wives, wakes up to find herself surrounded by the wives of Henry VIII, each with a secret to share.
The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson.  An alternate history of the last 7 centuries.
Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy.  A woman who has been declared insane is actually tuned to the future and able to communicate with the year 2137.
Indexing, by Seanan McGuire.  A world where fairy tale narratives become reality.
The Ups and Downs of Being Dead, by M. R. Cornelius.  The 'life and times' of the soul of a man who is cryogenically frozen, while awaiting the rejuvenation of his body.
The Gemini Divergence, by Eric Birk.  An alternative history involving the Cold War and Nazi UFOs.
In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker.  A sci-fi story set in the 16th century, about a group of immortal cyborgs.

Well, that's 10...  and that's enough, and my kettle is whistling.  I'm trying something new... Bewley's Gold Blend.  Smells nice, we'll have to see how it tastes.


  1. Well, I am firmly in the camp of re-reading books. For me it can be like visiting old friends I haven't seen in a while. It can also be "this time I will figure out how author did that thing.." Or I'm in a completely foul mood and reading something by Terry Pratchett will cure that.

    My To Be Read pile expands faster than I read, so it will never be finished.

    I've heard good things about McGuire's Indexing, but haven't read it yet myself.

  2. I'm afraid I have a couple that I've read several times. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy...all 5 books in the trilogy. I've probably read it 8 or 10 times by now. It's like hanging out with an old friend. And since Douglas Adams has died...I don't get any new stuff. There's also The Way of the Peaceful Warrior - but that's more of an emotional booster shot.
    However, my sister keeps giving me lists of interesting books to read...so I probably ought to get on that.

  3. There are a few books I've reread, but mostly one time is enough. Why do I have so many if I don't think I'll read them again?