Thursday, December 02, 2004

Old Favorites

What with all the writing of the last month, I didn't actually get to read a whole lot. But I did manage to get sucked into a few favorite books that I haven't read for a very long time. It started off innocently enough, just wanting to check up on some details (since these books all figured in the story I was writing) but then they were just too hard to put down.

The first one was The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. I think I read that about 14 times in a row when I was in third grade. Reading it again I was continually struck by how incredible it is. It teaches a lot of good lessons, and it's even extremely obvious about doing so, but somehow it's still a completely delightful book. I think that just hitting that balance is a minor miracle. Also, I think it was probably a big influence on my thinking, not to mention my sense of humor, just judging by the way things resonate with me 15 years later. It's the sort of book that makes me wish I had kids so I could read it to them (and saying I wish I had kids is not something I do very often). I did, however, get to read a great deal of it out loud to Miriam, Rebecca, Emily and Jen last weekend, while they were all in the middle of dress-making and origami-folding. That was quite fun.

The book I just finished today was Redwall, by Brian Jacques. I think I started that series when it first came out, and probably kept going for a good 10 years or so. After a bit, there wasn't enough point to getting the new ones, but the early ones were excellent. The variety of characters and the way all the different species of animals are characterized are just wonderful. All the way through the book I was stopping to laugh and say things like "Oh! I remember the shrews! They were great!" These books would be fun for read-alouds, too, especially if you like doing lots of difference voices.

In the midst of my novel I also reread some sections of The Princess Bride, and that's another that I'd like to go back and read in full again. All the fun of the movie, plus tons of extra details and back-stories and whatnot. I remember I used to periodically go back and reread just the chapter about Inigo, because I liked it so much. There aren't many chapters in any book that I do that with.

So there's still lots of rereading that I'd like to do right now, but it will probably get put on hold for a bit. There are just way too many new books on my list that I've been itching to get at for a while. And some of them are really long. (I'm still trying to figure out when would be the best time to tackle Atlas Shrugged, or Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.) So many books, so little time!

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