by Holly Myers
Remember that book compiled by Frank Warren, Postsecret, in which ordinary people confessed the extraordinary? My confession? I re-read. My dirty little bookseller secret. And like all the kids who have re-read Harry Potter nineteen-thousand times, my re-reading actually started when I was in the fourth grade.
We read Pippi Longstocking that winter just before holiday break. I loved the tale of the stiff-braided wondergirl with her long name and daring sensibilities. Once we had finished reading it as a class, I promptly re-read it myself over school break. I remember reading it by the light of my cheesy string of Christmas lights.
I made it a tradition and re-read all of Pippi every year through junior high. I suppose that also explains why I think of Pippi as a Christmas title.
Re-reading is like craving comfort food. When life takes an unexpected turn there is great solace to be found in mac and cheese or re-entering a beloved land.
As an adult I am completely unashamed to admit that Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is one I have re-read several times. Whenever my reality gets too much — more bills than cash, cat vomit, online book retailers — this series which stars the intrepid literary detective Thursday Next is truly a balm for my soul.
In Fforde’s alternate universe, literary questions spark all manner of crimes that are dealt with by the likes of Thursday and her peers, LiteraTecs in Spec Ops 27. Even after several re-reads, I am still dazzled by Fforde’s astonishing wit, which is aimed straight at the heart of a booklover.
When I really need escape, when my very world is threatened by global warming, poverty, and war, I do in fact seek for me the ultimate in comfort in Ray Bradbury’s classic Dandelion Wine. For me when I need to wrap myself in an unconditional cloak of innocence I will re-read the chapter on new tennis shoes. Bradbury’s lyric stream-of-consciousness writing depicts faultlessly the purity of childhood as our hero Douglas Spaulding yearns for new tennis shoes.
I’ll keep reaching for an occasional serving of meatloaf and certain books to help me through rough patches, but neither will be the sole source to feed me.