I USED to think there was so many books in the world that I would never need to read the same one twice.
It seemed a waste of time.
Lately, though, I've come around to another way of thinking. I've found myself drawn to books that take me back to a specific place or time. It's like pulling on an old, favourite cardigan: cosy and familiar.
It started with Tess of the d'Urbervilles, my copy of which hadn't been opened for the best part of 15 years. I was dusting around the bookcase when I caught sight of it sitting among a row of Thomas Hardy classics, its spine more frayed and fragile than its shelf mates.
Something compelled me to pick it up. Opening it, I read a page at random. Immediately came the rush of being 15 again and that glorious watershed realisation that there was a world beyond the saccharine Sweet Valley High novels I usually indulged in.
Sitting aside my duster, I plonked myself cross legged on the floor. By the time I looked up it was starting to get dark outside.
The towering pile of new books on my bedside table has since remained untouched. Instead I have been on a journey through my university years (Trainspotting) to moving away from Scotland on my first job (Bridget Jones's Diary) and the countless heartbreaks, clueness navigation of my 20s and curious life experiences which followed (everything from Jane Eyre to Atonement). As someone who usually speed-reads like a demon, devouring the pages in my haste to get the final page, revisiting them a second, or even third, time brings an entirely different experience. Those tiny but significant details previously skirted over now loom large.
It's like hurrying through life with eyes glued to the pavement – and then suddenly looking up.
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