To Keep a Book Alive: An Essay on Rereading by Katherine Ley

By Katherine Ley

 

To Keep a Book Alive

On the break of every Winter, just between the orange lining of the last leaf and the moment when the sun caps its evening earlier than any other night of the year, I carry a wine glass almost inappropriately filled with my favorite port and curl up to Wuthering Heights. While I can’t seem to turn on my fireplace, I settle into the comforts of a soft sofa and mold myself into the classic love affair.

The height of my year is this very moment. Wuthering Heights brings me to tears and heartbreak, but this yearly tradition gives me a chance to re-live a story that has disturbed my soul.

I am a re-reader. The act of re-reading keeps my books alive and well. The point is not to read for end’s sake, but rather the sensory experience of feeling bound to a novel and its characters by voluntary choice. It becomes the reason why you loved the book so much, like a child wanting her papa to read the same book over and over again. In a way, we are children of these books too, bound and tied to the words on a visceral level.

Re-reading is another way to achieve an inner silence that methodically calms the waves of clutter in the mind. You know the words, you read them anyway, but the book always seems to chisel away at you until it reveals a word you did not see before, or brings up a phrase you had previously misinterpreted.

Before I resign a book to its life sentence on a shelf, I remember that we do not know a book after reading it once. To keep a book alive is simple: re-read it. Embrace the book in all its multiple reading glories, and allow it to stir your emotions once again. Visceral.


Katherine Ley has been writing on and off since 2005 but recently, she quit her executive position to pursue a career in writing and motherhood. She enjoys spontaneous getaways, easy crockpot meals, and the cool breeze of Autumn. Katherine also enjoys visiting thrift stores in the search of vintage Jane Austen books.

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