For the last few years, I've been reading as fast as I can to keep up with the influx of new books to review. Because of review assignments, there's no doubt I've read a lot more books than I probably would have for pleasure. Just this week I finished Iain Banks' Matter, an astounding science fiction adventure for which I never would have found time if it hadn't been part of my job. (Rule #1 for happiness: Take what you enjoy doing, and make it your job if you can -- or at least find some way to obligate yourself to others for doing it.)
But the need to stay ahead of the curve in new books means giving up the opportunity to go back and reread favorites. I still manage to reread The Deed Of Paksenarrion, my favorite book and a source of continuous inspiration, every year. But other books -- not to mention series -- sit on the library shelves, and every once in a while I envy those encountering them for the first time and vow to return to them someday, before I die.
Chief among those pleasures for which I long is Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. How I wish I could immerse myself in its dense jargon for a month or so, never coming up for air! Similarly, Jane Austen's collected works form an encompassing atmosphere of diction and emotion that I would gladly breathe exclusively for as long as it lasted.
I wish, too, that I could go back to the books I reread obsessively as a child -- Charles Lindbergh's The Spirit Of St. Louis, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, the autobiography of Agatha Christie (one source of my enduring Anglophilia). Or the books that blew my mind in college -- The Soul Of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder, Stop-Time by Frank Conroy, Into The Heart by Kenneth Good.
As long as the stack of review copies teeters by my bedside, though, I'll be putting off those trips. Not forever, though, I hope. I imagine that if I get myself a Kindle, I'll manage to dip into my list of perennials much more often. Meanwhile, is there some way to make a job out of returning to old favorites, I wonder?
What books do you most want to reread?