I rarely re-read books, because I feel like there is no time for such things. I do have friends who re-read books often. One friend reads Jane Eyre every year or so. I feel like when it comes to reading we are already swimming against the tide, how could we possibly spend time re-reading a book when there are thousands of books still waiting to be read. I sometimes feel frantic about reading. I know I should really just give in and relax. Enjoy the process more. Of all people I should re-read books, because I tend to forget details or miss big things. For example I have probably read Lord of the Flies a couple of times, but I was just reading a description of the book and it said it takes place after an atomic war. I have no memory of that at all.
I’m still trying to get through Tree of Smoke, which was just nominated for the National Book Award. I’m about halfway through and I know I should re-read it when I’m done. Already I’m flipping back pages and re-reading as I go. Here’s one passage I found particularly striking about a monk who burned himself protesting the Vietnam War:
“He imagined his brother burning – he often did – Thu’s body in the flame, dreadful pain outside, going up his nostrils and in. And then as a monkey holds two branches for an instant, lets go of the first and clings to the new one, he was no longer the body, but the fire.”