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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

First reads, re-reads, and read-alongs: the many ways to read

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart Magic Slays -  Ilona Andrews The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  - J.K. Rowling

I love the first read - diving into the unknown and reading in great gulps. There is nothing like the first read of a book that resonates. That sense of being not quite at equilibrium, off-balance, not knowing what to expect, reading as quickly as possible to get to the end because the ride is so wonderful.


This is how I read We Were Liars, and the Kate Daniels series.


At least, that's one kind of first read. Sometimes, if a book isn't quite that fast-paced, the first read is a more quiet experience, one of unfolding, of taking my time to see how the author reveals the story. This is wonderful, in its own way.


This is how I read The Girl With All The Gifts, and A Creature of Moonlight.


Then there is the re-read. Those books that I experienced where once simply was not enough. Where I fell in love, or even just fell in like but think there might be love there, if I read it again. Where I know, somehow, that the book hasn't stopped telling me its story, that there is more there to be revealed. If I read it again. And sometimes there are books that I know will never stop talking to me, the same words, experienced in new ways because I am new even if the words are not new and I am always changing.


This is why I reread - books like Anne of Green Gables, who never fails to amuse me, and touch my heart, never fails to remind me to love life, and living, even during the rough patches. And Harry Potter, all seven of them (even The Chamber of Secrets, which I have really never liked). And Little Women, The Shell Seekers, The Lord of the Rings. Sometimes just for pleasure and for comfort or to remind me of who I was when I read them the first time. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first, the best-beloved of all of the fantasy I read as a girl.


And then there is the disappointing re-read, which happens when I read a book that I thought was wonderful, but I have changed, and the book has not (of course the book has not changed, how silly to think otherwise) and it no longer resonates. And I should have left the book just a memory, a shining recollection of pleasure, unsullied by the application of my new self to it. This is particularly painful when I've sought the book for years, thinking I would love it as much as I did when I read it before.


Kathleen Woodiwiss, snuck off my mother's nightstand in my youth, I'm looking at you, and your rapey heroes and your annoying heroines. Shake my head in dismay and disbelief that I once found these books compelling.


Then there is the read-along. Reads with friends. Something new, a gift of the world wide web, and places like Booklikes and Goodreads and blogs, the opportunity to share books with people who see things differently from me, and who can share their perspective with me. A gift, from reader to reader. And a way to read a book that gives me insight that I could never have on my own.


What are you going to do today? Me, I think I'll do a little cleaning, go to the grocery store. And read a book.