Does anyone read books more than once? It seems so, when people quote their favourites and the pleasure they get from re-reading them.
I was thinking about this the other day after a faithful follower of this blog reminded me that in August last year I had written about a dictionary – but no ordinary dictionary – that I like to consult from time to time; and if you’ve not read it, click the amber. “What other books have made a mark?”, he asked.
So, thinking first about books actually read more than once, I reckon that for me they’re limited to things studied for exams; occasional re-reads of Shakespeare plays before going to see them performed (so as not to shame myself); rarely, taking something from the shelves on holiday, because new books were preferred; and that’s about it. Moving on, I wondered about situations where particular books might be suitable, and this sprang to mind.
In the last 12 months or more, many of us have spent considerable periods of time at home – the pandemic effect. For my sins, or rather for my illness, I also spent 16 days total in hospital for the three operation attempts in the last few months of last year. So I asked myself the question: did I miss an opportunity to re-read something suitable, something calming, something that could lead me gently into a more comforting world?
And there it was. With all that time available, and for me with the backdrop of physical discomfort, why hadn’t I done it? When I read them originally, years ago, I’d said to myself, “David, you’ve really enjoyed these. They’ve floated you away. You’ve been engrossed for weeks. Remember that”. Well I didn’t remember.
They? These? Yes, more than one. The Chronicles of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope are six novels. I’m looking across the room at them now. It must be at least ten years since I read them. Maybe it’s a good time, for me anyway, to amble through them again. You can google them so I won’t say much here, but I will quote a few phrases from the Wikipedia summary: … “published between 1855 and 1867 …. set in the fictional English county of Barsetshire and its cathedral town of Barchester …. the novels concern the dealings of the clergy and the gentry, and the political, amatory and social manoeuvrings that go on among them.”
The Warden, followed by Barchester Towers, then Doctor Thorne, on to Framley Parsonage, and The Small House at Allington, and finally The Last Chronicle of Barset – together quite a read, but a good one. Some characters: John Bold, Archdeacon Grantly, Dr Proudie and his imperious wife Mrs Proudie, Chaplain Slope, Mr Quiverful, Sir Roger Scatcherd, the corrupt MP Nate Sowerby, Lord and Lady Lufton, Lady Alexandria de Courcy and colourful others.
For a bit of escapism, worth a try? It certainly worked for me, and might do so again.