I read this wonderful quotation attributed to the late William Robertson Davies, one of Canada’s most popular authors. Mr. Davies wrote novels and plays as well as dramatic criticism. He was also a journalist and a professor.
For all of you who have books on your keeper shelves that you re-read every so often, Mr. Davies explained this compulsion that many others don’t understand.
He wrote: "The great sin is to assume that something that has been read once has been read forever."
Ah, we keepers of favorite books can attest to that. We turn to some books again and again, and each time we discover something different in those well-read words. For my daughter, the book she reads every year is Dune. For me, it varies. My keeper shelf is more like a keeper room, and the books are a motley bunch indeed with samples from every genre.
There’s The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, Watchers and Lightning by Dean Koontz, A Rose In Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Ninja by Eric Von Lustbader, O. Henry Short Stories -- even my 12th grade English Lit book! Then there's Jane Austen and so many more favorite authors and books.
Mr. Davies uses the example of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. The book is usually required reading in college, but the book you read at 18 is different, you’ll discover, when you read it 20 years later. The older you get, the more your vision of a book changes. The words haven’t changed, but the experience you’ve incurred with every year changes you so what you get from the book will be different each time.
Reading a book again is like meeting an old friend after a long absence and being amazed at how your friend has changed.