I wonder how many people ever get around to re-reading books. I recently had the opportunity to go over China Miéville’s Iron Council, and this time discovered so many more layers. And I’ll admit that my reading tastes have matured, as have I (well, a bit at least…), and was able to dig deeper, to actively see where the prose was working in a different way to his other books, to understand more about what the book was about.
In the internet age, there seems to be a need to tick-off as many books as we can read. Reviewers list huge numbers of titles in a not-quite-official-competition that they’ve blasted through in a month, and I stand in sheer amazement. Of course, some have the gift of speed reading, and can assiduously take information in at a very fast rate.
But that aside, I do ask myself: Why not take time with a book? Why not read luxuriously, and dig under the surface a little? Why rush through book after book looking for quick-thrills? You’ve spent money on the thing, so why not make it last—you might even find that authors or books you previously didn’t like, or didn’t appreciate fully, are suddenly seen in a new light. Your old favourites might no longer make the cut against slower reads if there’s not much under the surface. You might even get to re-read a book and see the layers and complexity and character idiosyncrasies you missed the first time. Authors such as Gene Wolfe and China Miéville and M John Harrison suddenly become clear-cut gods above mere mortals, under further scrutiny.
Just thoughts really.