Thursday, May 21, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: A Second First Time?

Do-overs. This week's BTT question: "What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?"

At first glance, this seems like a simple question, but it's really a little problematic. I've thought about it before, and I always have trouble with it. I'm assuming we're not talking about time travel – so I wouldn't actually be returning to childhood or young adulthood or that original experience. And if I read any of my favorite books for the first time now, would I have the same reaction I had then? I'm a different person now – I've changed; maybe my feelings will have altered, too. In most cases, I wouldn't want to risk that. Not if it's a book I love.

However. Just to play the game – there have been some "first-reads" I wouldn't mind experiencing again. Mostly childhood books, of course. I suppose Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass would have to be on the list – I think they were probably the first "real" books I read on my own (as opposed to picture-books and easy readers), and they were absolutely magical.

And definitely Huckleberry Finn. I didn't actually read that one myself, the first time; my mother read it to me at nap-time everyday during the course of one summer. It was very effective at putting Mamma to sleep (she survived Tom Sawyer a little better), but I was fascinated and couldn't wait for the next afternoon's installment. I've re-read the book many times since then, and still love it. But none of my re-reads have come close to that first mind-altering experience.

And then, there are those books that served to help me get through trying times. Some of those are pleasant memories today – Little Women, the Nancy Drew mysteries, Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass – and some, like the novels of Barbara Pym, have become all-time favorites that I return to over and over. For those, while I'd love the experience of devouring them for the first time, I certainly wouldn't want to go through those rough patches of existence again.


  1. Books that have surprise ending or a twist would be refreshing to me. I also read my favorite books, like Name of the Rose and The Master and Margarita.

  2. Ah, I forgot Huckleberry Finn and the Nancy Drew series. Those were fun and enjoyable reads. Seems like childhood reads are the most impressionable of the lot. :]

  3. Hmm ...I really hadn't thought about it that way -- I guess when you think about a reaction to a book as a younger person and how it would be if you were reading it for the first time now, the reaction would be completely different. It would be for my choice, anyway.

  4. I never think about rereading children's classics, will sort some out.

  5. You have a good point about the first experience being different depending on where you are in life at the time. I know I've changed a lot since I first read some of my favorite books. I wonder what my first reaction to them would be now.

    - Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

  6. I like your thoughts here. And all are real great books to re-read.

  7. I have to read Huckleberry Finn and Little Women.

    Nancy Drew brings back childhood memories :)

    Here is my BTT post.

  8. I didn't post for this BTT, but my thoughts were similar to yours ... it would be something I read as a kid, when my sense of wonder was greater. Funny, because once I read those books as a kid, I'd read them again and again, it didn't matter that I knew what was going to happen!


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