I reread too much. If I really like a book, it’s hard for me to resist reading it again. When I pick up an old familiar, I tell myself that I’ll get something new out of it with another reading, or that I’ll analyse the language more carefully. While this is sometimes true, usually there’s no more purpose to it than there is for a kid at Six Flags to jump on the Runaway Mine Train eight times in one afternoon. It’s a matter of wanting to recreate the same experience. It’s an addiction. For me, some titles are just crack with a dust jacket.
It wouldn’t matter except that I’m a relatively pokey reader and I’ve got a ton of new stuff I want to read, not to mention books I’m supposed to be writing. (I re-watch movies, too, but a movie is just two hours down the drain instead of a day or several days.) There are only so many hours in a day, and when I’m in the thrall of book crack, I let things go. The dishes pile up, the cat meows pitifully for food, the husband becomes a book crack widow.
One thing I’ve learned is that there are certain books I cannot keep in my house. The works of Jane Austen are the prime offenders. If I read the first line of Pride and Prejudice, there’s no holding me back. Jane Eyre is also verboten, although last year I managed to smuggle in a copy I’d found on the fifty-cent shelf at my local used book store. I estimate I’ve lost entire months of my life to multiple re-readings of The Forsyte Saga. Ann Tyler is crack, as are Nicci French books and the Tony Hill novels by Val McDermid.
This week, I realized I had to add The Testament (A Town Like Alice) by Nevil Shute to the list of no-no’s. A battered copy from Goodwill is sitting on my shelf, tempting me away from work. Must resist…