Re-reading Jane Austen

p&pA close friend of mine visited me at the new apartment the other day, and besides our normal amount of mindless chit-chat, our conversation naturally turned to books.  She too just graduated with a bachelors in English Literature, and even though she may not be as clinically insane as I am, our reading tastes and schedules tend to be pretty similar.

Case in point:  she’s currently re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, this being her second read-through of what I consider THE-GREATEST-BOOK-EVER. Now, I’ve read this classic at least five or six times during my lifetime, Pride and Prejudice being one of those books that I have to re-read at least every other year (along with The Lord of the Rings, The Stand by Stephen King, etc).  Now, Kim claims that she’s loving the book ten times more than she did after she first read it, which is understandable.  I didn’t fall in love with Heart of Darkness until the third or fourth time I read it for class.  But then again, that’s Joseph Conrad.  This is Jane Austen.  I remember finishing Pride and Prejudice for the first time, thinking to myself, “What have I been doing all my life, without this book??”

However, I understand that some books may need to be appreciated a second, or even a third time before the genius starts to sink in.  This is especially true with classic novels that are supposedly uber-important.  We tend to approach these books, having heard about them for years, as jaded cynics.  Everyone says this book is so good, but just wait til I finish it.  I bet it’s just overhyped. Very rarely do we give it the chance it deserves the first time around.  Some authors–the Jane Austens, and Joseph Conrads–just need that second chance.

But those are only examples from my own reading.  What other classic, or not-so-classic, authors need a second read-through before we allow ourselves to become addicted?  Charles Dickens is probably another one–one that I still need to read a second time.  I’m afraid Moby Dick is going to be another book I’ll have to give a second chance somewhere down the line, which frightens me considering I dread the thought of reading that tome once.  What about you?


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