“The real secret of re-reading is simply this: It is impossible. The characters remain the same, and the words never change, but the reader always does. Pip is always there to be revisited, but you, the reader, are a little like the convict who surprises him in the graveyard — always a stranger.” –Verlyn Klinkenborg, “Some Thoughts on the Pleasures of Being a Re-Reader“
As a kid, I was a champion re-reader. I’ve read the Lioness Quartet, The Lord of the Rings, The Stand, The Last Unicorn, Beauty by Robin McKinley, The Phantom Tollbooth… approximately a million times? I don’t know, certainly more than I count, but never enough. I was a re-reader for comfort (I particularly enjoy The Stand while home sick), to get to the “good parts,” as an annual ritual (Diablevert used to re-read A Christmas Carol on the bus home for the holidays every Christmas time, a tradition I absolutely adore), as a prelude to introducing a friend to a favorite book so that I could have it secure in my mind. But I’m not really much of a re-reader anymore. I’ve got great impatience for it, actually, since it seems like there’s such an avalanche of print to just get through these days.
Maybe Mr. Penny reading The Hobbit for the first time will spur me to give it another readthrough, especially since I think I may be conflating some of my memories of it with the Rankin Bass cartoon version, which I’ve also seen about 5,638,409 times.