There is only one book, in the entire world, not counting the Bible (praise God from who all blessings flow!), that I have read more than once (really more than 30 times).
That book begins:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little is known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of someone or other of their daughters."
And every time I read those perfect opening lines (which I nearly have memorized, because I am a super nerd at heart), I smile, nestle in for the comic, sweet, romantic, smart story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I adore this novel--it is perceptive and ironic and just so enduringly truthful. I know there are bookie friends in my circle who think it flowery or "girlie," but they are wrong. Pride and Prejudice just delivers on reality with just enough whimsy to keep you engaged in the magic of Austen's words.
Outside of Pride and Prejudice (which I have written about extensively since I was 15 years old like a women obsessed, which I am), there is not one book I have or would ever reread. In fact, rereading books is against my reader's code. I love books. I love being surrounded by books. I spend my days in a room of books--so many volumes of stories and wisdom and insights, that I only read once to completion.
My reader's code stops me from rereading any of them in their entirety. However, I will once in a while pick up one of my old Sweet Valley Twin books and read a chapter, just to remember what it was like to be 13 years old. And then, I place it back in it's spot, adjacent to my old Nancy Drew novels, which my Nana would search for at thrift stores and book sales and garage sales and later, I'd seek out in old barns in rural Vermont, backed to the rafters with books that maybe were also only read once.
You might be asking why I only read books once, well, it is a simple issue of time. There are so many books I want to read and books being written and books that will someday be written, that if I ever spent too much time on several of those books, I'd miss out on so many of the other books.
Here's my reader's code:
1. One read through, as a I mentioned. I do allow for the flip and reading of sections.
2. Reading is never, ever an audiobook for me, although I enjoy audiobooks, the way my brain works, necessities the actual reading of words on a page.
3. I love the lending of books, except for my specials editions, first editions, books that changed my life, books I've written in, and of course, my 18 editions of Pride and Prejudice.
4. I read all genres. Once when I was in 7th grade, an English teacher accused me of "taking the easy way out" with my reading and analysis of the Boxcar Children. She was a limited woman. There is no snobbery or leveling here. Words are words, friends. Read them all.
5. I usually start 5 books, before I settle in to the book I commit to reading. It is a form of dating, I suppose. But, I don't fully abandon the 4 books who don't make the cut. Instead I note why that book did not
6. There is one book I cannot ever read, yet I still have a copy of it, just in case there is a book sacrifice required to survive or something. That book is Ishmael. I tried, friends. I tried again. 86% of reviewers love this novel. It is the first of a three part series. However, I cannot do it.
And friends, it is a truth universally acknowledged that while you should read all the words, when those words stop you from reading more words, you should stop, lest you become the property of words that do not serve you.
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