Monday, June 21, 2010

Literature is not overrated.

I'm feeling overwhelmed by nostalgia and snippets that were at one point a part of me. Mostly by books I used to love. They seem like old friends who went away to college and got kinder and smarter, and I marvel at them from afar without realizing we haven't talked in a good long time.

My favorite books frustrate me! I always worry that I'm not intimately familiar enough with them to call them my favorite, but I persist in calling them that because I remember so clearly how each story changed a way of thinking or appealed to my soul.

Like Alas, Babylon. On the one hand, I love stories about the collapse of modern society. On the other hand, who knew a circa Cold War novel about America after a nuclear holocaust would so inspire a revelation of character. I still have a freakish obsession with sustainable living, too.

Or Perelandra. I put off reading The Space Trilogy for so long, because I'm so inclined to judge books by their covers. And yet here is a fiction book that made me love Jesus in a way I thought only the Bible could evoke, that versed truthes about obedience in a way that adhered to my understanding.

You know Sarah Dessen? I've read so many of her books, these soppy teen romances, but Just Listen made me ask so many questions about the nature of honesty, it resolved me to a more direct mode of communication. Nationals this month reminded me just how freeing unnuanced conversation is.

There are books I appreciate on the level that they convey interesting ideas or are artfully crafted or I just chanced to exceptionally enjoy. And then there are books I treasure for how they softened my heart and changed my mind. I can't tell what makes a book fall into which category. I have read beautiful, heart-crushing books that wowed me with their insight and rhetoric, but the story never hit my heart. I don't know why some themes stick and others don't. Why some revolutionize my perspective and some don't.

And so I'm torn with how to budget my time. It seems such a shame to re-read anything when there are so many fantastic books I have yet to discover, that will change my mind in ways I couldn't anticipate now. But at the same time, the books that won me over first are begging for a second or third or seventh perusal, all while the glossy covers at the library hold desk promise new ideas and new revelations. Life is so short and there's just so much to read!


Caitriona aka Catherine said...

"So many books, so little time."

K-Mac said...

this is so true. by that i mean, the definite parts of it :P

On my many recent plane rides I re-read The Island of Dr. Moreau, which is one of the books I've considered among my favorites even though I'd only read it once.

I think reading things again always gives you a better and/or different perspective on the work. The Bible being the best example of that.

I definitely got more out of tIoDM (woah, okay, i have no idea how to abbreviate that) by reading it again and I think many times it can be worth it.

But, also, I can understand the desire to read more books. There are still so, so, so many to be read.