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Pickle Me This

January 26, 2012

Firmly in the moment (and returning to the past)

It was strange how much I enjoyed spending the last five days reading Skippy Dies (well, as much as one can enjoy reading Skippy Dies), all 660 pages of it. Usually books that big make me unpatient, and I’m sure part of it was that Skippy was less demanding than, say, Great Expectations, but I really wasn’t in a hurry to finish (well, as much as one can not be in a hurry to be finished reading Skippy Dies). To be reading that one book for so long felt like time suspended, a chance for me to get caught up on book notes and reviews, and there was nothing so pressing for me to be reading just around the corner, so I could take my time. I had to take my time– the book is huge. And it was so very nice to be firmly in the literary moment and not already be anticipating the next thing.

Along the same lines of stopping to smell the flowers, I am delighted to begin some focussed rereading in the next while. For a long time, I spent every summer rereading, but during the summer of 2010, I was so busy reading books as juror for the QWF First Book Prize, and last summer I made it my mission to finally get my to-be-read shelf pared down. I’ve done a formidable job of the latter task, down to authors whose names begin with Q, and while I’d like to barrel through the rest of the stack, I feel as though I might put off my rereading forever. Further, time has fewer demands on me at the moment than it has for awhile, which also won’t last forever, and so the time is now to revisit books from way back when.

I’m looking forward to rereading the following over the next couple of months, most of which are titles that made an impact on me, but now it’s the impact I remember rather than the books themselves, and so it will be interesting to see if the impact remains. How have what I’ve read or experienced since first reading change my impression? What have I forgotten? Am I a more critical reader now? And does the rereading bring me closer to the person I was when I first encountered these? A few of these are books I can’t remember at all, and the reread might give some indication into how this might have come to be.

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud

The Children’s Book by AS Byatt

Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk

Remembering the Bones by Frances Itani

All in Together Girls by Kate Sutherland

Anne’s House of Dreams by LM Montgomery

A Natural Curiosity by Margaret Drabble

The Creation by E.O. Wilson

Various Miracles by Carol Shields

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion

Slouching Toward Bethleham by Joan Didion

Headhunter by Timothy Findlay

The Crack in the Teacup by Joan Bodger (for my Canada Reads nonfiction co-challenge)

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