I read a lot of books every year. Always have, always will. Books for pleasure, books for school, audio books in the car on the way to and from Greer. I keep a list of the books I read. Novels, plays, non-fiction--everything book length. I don't count the short stories, poetry, magazine and newspaper articles--just the books.
In 2006 I counted forty-eight books: twenty-two books on tape, sixteen new books in print, and ten re-reads (most of those for school). The biggest difference for me is that the books I read for the first time are mostly read in the spirit of discovery. I'm always looking for the pleasure of an entertaining story, compelling characters, and scenes that evoke in me strong feelings. On the other hand, when I read a book I've read before, I'm looking for different things. I want to see how the story is put together, how the threads are connected, how individual passages stand out and carry the weight of meaning. I look for ideas and feelings I hadn't noticed before. I move from a casual acquaintance with the book to the level of friendship and deeper knowledge.
I was checking out some blogs the other day and found one that struck a chord with me on the subject of re-reading, so I wanted to share it with you. The blog is by Scott Esposito, and the quote is from one of his correspondents named Dan Green.
The relevance to English class, I think, is something like this: when you read a new piece of literature, you are doing the initial reading, and when you post a weekly blog entry and we come together in class to talk about your responses and look more closely at the text and at the different ways you found of responding to it, we're doing some of the work of re-reading. It's not entirely the same experience, but it's an approximation.
Over the course of my next several entries, I'll be re-reading some of the recommended books on my summer list and posting brief entries on why I chose each and what I noticed when I re-read it.