Tag Archives: rereading

Re-Reading Ender’s Game Just in Time for Déjà Vu

Be honest. Do you read teen fiction? It’s okay–loads of adults do.

Of course, opinions are like…well, there’s no shortage of opinions on who should or shouldn’t read or write young adult novels and why. At this point most folks have caught on, and are rushing to create lists of YA books you should read for summer. winter, spring, and the end of the world. NPR even had a go.

So from my vantage point at CLP Teen–Main, I understand when adults come looking for a title and share, with a look of I-can’tbelieveI’madmittingthis, that they’re totally hooked (me too, friends). One adult YA addict wrote:

…there’s an undeniable nostalgic lure. Reading YA, unlike consuming other forms of entertainment that are rooted in the past–movies that are remakes or origin stories of long-established comic-book heroes, for example–reminds me of the person I used to be rather than the things I used to be into.


If any of this describes you, you’d be in good company at the Déjà Vu book club! On the third Saturday of each month, we dig in to teen titles that have been in print for years, and opening up worlds for us for just as long. Whether your first reading of these books was with a flashlight long after “lights-out,” or trading pages for a sleep deficit on a work night, these are the books that made a mark on you. Maybe the tragedy of a good bildungsroman (or maybe just John Green) renders the age of the main character immaterial for you. Perhaps you just like a good romp through a glitter-covered version of 1980s L.A. where wishes come true, though not without consequence.

Next Déjà Vu Book Club: the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Ender’s Game!



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Going home again.

Re-reading.  I know people do it all the time.  “I loved it so much, I read it over and over again!”  they tell me.  Some of my favorite people in the world do it.  “Yes, it’s sad that one of your favorite authors died, and they’ll never write another new novel again, but there’s always re-reading,” they say.  My true confession of the day:  I can’t re-read.  Least of all, my favorite books.

I wasn’t always this way.  I spent all of eighth grade reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders over and over and over again.  I mixed in Rumble Fish and Tex, but really, it was all Outsiders all the time.  Particularly in the hallways at school, between classes, when I walked with the book in front of my face so I wouldn’t have to look at anyone.

I think the re-reading aversion started when I re-read The Little Leftover Witch, by Florence Laughlin, as an adult.  This was my favorite book in the third grade, and remains one of them, despite the re-reading experience.  The story of a grumpy little witch who becomes a sweet little girl through the love of a kind family.  Re-reading the book as an adult hit my anti-conformist buttons in such a way that I felt embarrassed for ever having treasured the book so much.  Nonetheless, as I look at it now, I appreciate the spirit of hopefulness that I saw in the story, especially as it’s counter-balanced by another childhood favorite called Konrad, about a little boy who changes from factory-made perfect to naughty and normal.  Again, at that age, I needed to have the hope that people could transform like that.

The thing is, I savor so much the feeling of reading a book for the first time.  It’s like love at first sight.  Middlesex, another one of my all time favorites (finally, an adult book!), is a perfect example.  For me, the story was about a person finding his identity in the very confusing situation of being born a hermaphrodite, then being raised as a girl.  I don’t want to re-read it and find out that it’s got any other themes.  I know it does; but I just want it to remain the book I fell in love with many years ago. 

Eat, Pray, Love is another example.  As I read it, I was deeply touched by the descriptions of spiritual practices in the ashram.  I actually bought the book so that I could lend it to friends, something I rarely do.  Since then, I have seen more critical reviews and realized that gosh, not everybody loved that book!  The last thing I want to do is go back and re-read it.  What if I suddenly see the flaws in the object of my adoration?  No, I can’t handle it.  Although I will go see the movie.

The sad part is that lately I’ve noticed a disinclination even to read the same authors again!  I am fighting it, successfully enough to have enjoyed Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity while on vacation last month, despite that I had already read A Long Way Down a few years ago.  But it’s tough with so many new books coming out all the time.

The funny thing is that as I write this post, I find these attitudes I carry shifting and changing already. Out of curiosity, I picked up Nothing Remains the Same:  Rereading and Remembering, by Wendy Lesser.  In the first chapter, she talks about re-reading The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. 

I cared less, this time through, about what decisions Isabel made than about how and why she made them.  And this, in turn, gave me far more patience with the length and complexity of James’s sentences. . . . whereas I used to be tempted to skip ahead, I now wanted to saunter through the commas, linger at the semicolons, and take small contemplative breaks at the periods.  The book was much better than I had remembered it.  More to the point, I was a much better reader of it.  Both pleasure and understanding came more easily to me.

Perhaps that transformation I read about all those years ago is still possible.


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