Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reading-for-pleasure Wednesday: Narrative! A cry for help!

A few weeks ago, a student of mine told me that he was so glad to be reading Huck Finn again, because he had never re-read a book before.

I'm proud to say I kept my jaw from dropping. I simply replied that I'd be curious to know what it was like for him to re-read the novel this time around.

I was the exact opposite as a child: I re-read compulsively. At some point, almost every book on my bookshelf got picked up again, although it sometimes took several years. I re-read most multiple times. In fact, I remember receiving a hand-me-down copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from a friend of the family, who commented that her son had read it twenty times. I determined instantly that I'd read it more (and I think I must have, since I remember being proud).

So today I find myself re-reading some really satisfyingly trashy fantasy novels from my middle school days. Normally, I don't go out and purchase these books; I'll wait and get them through interlibrary loan or some such, but I felt such a craving a couple of days ago that I instantly went out and bought not only those, but a couple sci-fi novels as well. Which made me wonder whence the urgency.

My lust for narrative, I think, is stemming from the fact that my own career is particularly nebulous right now: I'm in the midst of trying to narrow my disciplinary boundaries enough to come up with an exam reading list; I'm teaching a subject (writing) that I haven't been well-trained in; I'm wondering which faculty members will be on my committee; etc. So reading (and re-reading) things with such clear narrative arcs is tremendously satisfying; I've also found pleasure in bingeing on TV series recently, for the same reason. I don't think I properly acknowledged how stressful this period of decision has been, though, until the stress manifested itself in trashy novel buying.

1 comment:

Jane Dark said...

I get this lust for narrative, I do. And though I was raised on a slightly different version of the formula, I thoroughly enjoyed your series of trashy fantasy novels last summer.