I love reading a good book for the first time. I absolutely love it. There is nothing quite like the excitement that builds as you are masterfully forced to consider new ideas or pulled along in the exploration of some new world or brought face-to-face with a fascinating new character. It is breathtaking and wonderful, and I find it hard to pass up the chance.
It is also overrated.
You see, a good book is an intimate thing. It is a secret conversation with a man or woman of genius, it is a world unto itself, it is Odin’s eye plucked out and traded for magic and secrets, it is a pearl-white drop of wisdom poured out from someone’s soul. And it is deserving of more than just your passing notice.
You might think to say that I am taking this too seriously. I promise you, I’m not. I have and will continue to read almost anything and everything1 that comes my way with even an ounce of story and an even tinier amount of wit. I will read it, and I will enjoy it.
But given the opportunity, I will delve back into my bookshelves before I will grace the door of the library or allow my shadow to fall across the rack of new releases. To me, reading only new books is like meeting many fascinating people, but only getting to do so once. It is like dating for pleasure. I mean, come on, get married already. Settle down. Have some kids. Commit for crying out loud. To me, a book I’ve read five or six or seven times, is like an old familiar friend. A good book is, without belittling her or it, a little like my wife: well known, somewhat comfortable, but still chock full of secrets.
And I find that it changes the way I read. No longer do I merely read from line to line or page to page, but rather from chapter to chapter, theme to theme, thought to thought. I float atop these books. I swim through them. I know them.
Seriously, you should try it.
1 Case in point, I remember back when I was seven or eight, Cheez Doodles® started printing a story on the back of each their bags. It was about a castle or something and I think Cheez Doodles® were involved, but the point is, I read it, and liked it, and was disappointed when they stopped. To be even more honest: to this day, I still find myself occasionally checking the back of the bags just in case they’ve started up. Sir Cheez-a-lot was in trouble when they left him, and I’d like to see how things turned out…