I am still in a reading slump as I have not completed a single book this week. But that’s ok, because I am re-reading one of my all-time favorite books and it’s worth taking my time to savor it.
A few weeks ago on Twitter I was contacted by someone who asked me to submit a photo of my favorite books for a project he was creating to apply for a job at Penguin Publishers in the UK (side note — his project – Creased Spines – is awesome and as an HR manager in my daily life I’d totally hire him). So I took a look at my shelves and pulled down three favorites – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
It has probably been 15 years since I read A Fine Balance. My copy is huge — it’s in hardcover and at 748 pages it truly looks like a brick (when I moved here from Canada 13 years ago I only allowed myself to bring 3 boxes of books, so the fact that I picked this one at the expense of several smaller books says something, doesn’t it?). When I took it down from the shelf for the photo, I “remembered” how much I enjoyed reading it; and when I abandoned yet another book to the DNF pile last weekend I thought that re-reading an old favorite would be just the right thing to get my reading mojo back, hopefully enjoying the book as much as I did the first time.
I am about halfway through the re-read and I am thrilled to say that it is as good as I remembered. A Fine Balance is not a pretty story – it is set in Bombay (its name at the time) in 1975 with flashbacks to earlier eras – but for me it captures perfectly the sights, smells, and sounds of India. In fact, despite the harshness of its descriptions, this novel sparked a desire to visit India, though I don’t consider myself brave enough to withstand the reality of the country (yet).
So though I have hundreds (yep) of not-yet-read books sitting on my shelf I think this experience has made me want to re-visit other old favorites sitting on my shelf to see if they still are as good as I remember. Maybe I’ll seek out a challenge for 2013, or create one if it doesn’t already exist.
Do you re-read books?