Re-Reading as Comfort Reading
Do you ever stop and think about all the decisions you've made to get to this moment, and about how the future is just a vast, mercurial blend of opportunities to make more choices, all scattering in a thousand directions? It can be a little paralyzing.
I think thats why nostalgia is such a comforting feeling; you know exactly what you're getting. I can look back into any time in my past and know so viscerally what that particular moment feels like. Nostalgia offers a way to live in those known, familiar feelings that are set in stone and enshrined in memory, rather than facing the shifting, uncertain future. There's no guesswork in the immutable past.
Re-reading old favorite books provides that same security that nostalgia does, I think. You know the answer to the ending, you know the feelings you're getting yourself into, and you know how deeply you enjoy the novel. I tend to re-read when I'm seeking out specific feelings. I'm not picking up something unknown, I'm picking up the intimately known because it's safe, it's specific, and I can live in a familiar place, with familiar characters, in a familiar attitude for a while. It's frankly just comforting.
There's such a delicious sense of anticipation when you begin a re-read, you know you're about to be reunited with characters who feel like friends and follow a beloved story. I just can't resist going back and living in a world I fully adore for a bit.
Harry Potter is a perfect example of this. I was the same age as Harry was as each book was released. I remember midnight launch parties, and pre-ordering books, and binge reading the new book the day it came out because I didn't want it spoiled. I grew up with Harry, I spent 7 years waiting for new books to come out so I could go back to Hogwarts and hang out with everyone. I'm nearing 30 and I still re-read the series pretty much yearly. Opening them up feels like a sigh of relief and a settling of my soul as I re-enter the story I've loved so much for so many years.
Another favorite is The Great Gatsby. A completely different tone than Harry, obviously, but I still get to open that book and plunge myself back into the magic and beauty of Fitzgerald's writing and spend a day or two wrapped in the wonderful, heart-achingly gorgeous nostalgia of the novel. It feels like dipping myself in that feeling; just saturating myself with that tingly perfection. It's so hard to describe, but I'm betting most of you who wholeheartedly enjoy re-reading books will understand.
I have an entire shelf devoted to books I love enough to re-read with some regularity, do you guys re-read books? What are some of your favorites? I'd love to hear!