As you are reading this I am whizzing through the air from one coast to another. Or I'm home and lying down recovering from this. Either way, there is something you can depend on - I will be reading. The thought of being 'out of a book' strikes terror deep in my heart. Luckily, unlike some of my friends, I am a happy re-reader. I will read books again and again. It has to be the 'right' time though. If I'm unhappy in book land then I scour the shelves and come across an old favourite - recently it was a book I've read about four or five times. It had been awhile and I was ready to leap into visiting my friends again. As I've explained to those of you who don't re-read, I don't get bored with hearing the story again, just as I don't get bored with hearing your stories again. I know, I know, you tell it slightly differently each time and my life is different so I hear it in a new way BUT my dears, the same thing happens when I re-read a book. Sure the writing is the same but I notice different elements of the story based on my own experiences and state of mind. Reading isn't a passive act. Not to go all po-mo on you - we're part of the equation of the literary experience.
The book I was reading was Margaret Drabble's The Radiant Way. Having devoured this wonderfully rich story of life in Britain during the Thatcher years (shudder), I went on to read the other two in the trilogy - A Natural Curiosity and The Gates of Ivory. All of Drabble's books are brilliant. She has a Dickensian way about her and can write stream of consciousness (as he could) without it being the least bit irritating. And she describes women's friendships in an acceptable way to me. I think she actually has female friends and has had babies and struggles and poverty and all - it is real. This is Drabble in her middle years writing about that time. For those of you who haven't read Drabble, you might start with her earlier books - I particularly like The Waterfall and The Millstone but as I say - I haven't read any that I don't like. Wait, there is one - a more recent one called The Red Queen which didn't grab me. But 16 out of 17 is pretty good! I envy those of you who haven't read her as you'll have this rich resource of books and not need to be 'out of a book' for simply ages. These books are usually in libraries. Dive in, have fun and let me know what you think.
And tell me - do you re-read?