The dangers of re-reading too quickly

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I have lots of books that I like to read, and re-read frequently. For instance, I’m in the middle of re-reading The Lord of the Rings. That’s been one of my favorite books since junior high school, and I’ve re-read it every couple of years since. We’ve worn out at least one set of those books. Now I’ve got it on my Nook, so I shouldn’t have to worry about wearing it out any more.

But if you take a book, and re-read it a couple of times in close succession, various plot holes, and other things, that you might not have noticed otherwise might suddenly loom so huge that they suck all the joy out of that reading.

The one that comes to mind immediately was when I discovered “The Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett (she also wrote “The Secret Garden). I was in college at the time, and so really out of the targeted age bracket. But I picked up the book, and immediately loved it. I loved it so much that as soon as I finished reading it, I turned around and read it again.

I think it was on my third reading of the book, still in close succession, that my mind suddenly asked me, “Why didn’t the father’s friend contact the lawyer (solicitor)?” ::poof:: All the magic in the book was suddenly gone, and it was a few years before I could read it again. Of course, if the father’s friend had contacted the lawyer, it would have been a much shorter book. But the he should have, it should have been an absolutely obvious first step for him. And even if he didn’t think of it, his own lawyer should have.

Perhaps the author had put in a few lines about how the father’s friend had wanted to contact the lawyer, and wasn’t able to, but the editor took them out to tighten the story, or perhaps it had never occurred to her that the question might come up to someone. Probably no way to know, now.

I’ve had similar things happen when reading other books, though I don’t think any of them were quite as dramatic. So, now I usually try to put a little time, and other books, between when I first read a book, and when I re-read it.

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