Welcome back for another post from the Monday Inspirations series. Today’s post is by Diana. You can check out previous posts here.
Somehow, reading a book over again seems almost too luxuriant–there are so very many books to be read, and there is such comparatively little time to read them. But still, I find myself picking up an old favorite and sitting down to read on occasion. There are only 4 or 5 books that I reread with any sort of regularity. Aside from To Kill a Mockingbird, I reread these fairly often: Peter and Wendy, A Wrinkle in Time, and Little Women.
There are so many books to choose from…So why do I keep coming back to these?
The books are all pretty different: Peter and Wendy was published in 1911 by Scottish-born J.M. Barrie and is an adaptation of a play; A Wrinkle in Time was published in 1962 by Madeleine L’Engle, a native New Yorker; and Louisa May Alcott’s almost-autobiographical Little Women was published almost a full 100 years before that, as a split-volume work released 1868 and 1869. The first two works are fantasy, while Alcott’s work is closest in form to a sentimental novel.
But they’re all stories that are marked as “for children,” all books I encountered in childhood. Some would probably say that we should outgrow our childhood favorites, move along to something new. But that seems a suspicious statement to me. There is certainly value in new things. And there is value in recognizing when it’s time to put something away, move along from it. But I think that we get to decide when we’re done with something—and if a work of fiction (or nonfiction, probably) isn’t done saying what it has to say to us, we should probably listen, regardless of genre.
And so I listen especially closely to these books, because they’re Not Done With Me Yet.
Each time I read one of those old favorites, something new emerges. Perhaps there’s some detail that I’ve missed; perhaps a line that I’d previously overlooked has more significance this time around; perhaps I’ve learned something about the author or time period that changes my reading of the events or characters. Something’s Always Different, even though the book is the same.
And in some ways, these three books are stages of life, are markers of where I have been, where I am, where I’m going. Peter and Wendy is the bittersweet nostalgia for childhood. It is the first crush, the first kiss, the first moments of growing older. Little Women is the rebellion of adolescence. It is frustration with gender expectations, initial encounters with politics, the tumultuous move from child to adult. And A Wrinkle in Time is young adulthood, is independence and uncertainty.
But this isn’t really a strict system, either. I could just as easily reverse them. Their meanings are varied. And that’s what I find wonderful about them–each book is filled to the brim with meaning, both intentional and unintentional on the part of someone who wrote them so many years ago. It’s why I still re-read them, all these years later.
Diana is a native Mississippian, a nerd, a bookworm, a feminist, a mother, a teacher, a worrier, and a social media junkie. She is the administrator of the blog Part Time Monster, and you can follow her on Twitter @parttimemonster or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/parttimemonster. She lives in New Orleans with her son, her husband, and one very energetic terrier.