While I spent a huge portion of October not blogging, I for once allowed myself to indulge in a massive series re-read. The series I chose was the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (very appropriate for October, I think you’ll agree), one of my favorites. The Winter Long is the eighth book in the series and I, of course, bought it on release, but didn’t want to read it without re-reading the series. After seven previous books, the first of which I read a good few years ago, I was losing track of who people were, what they meant to Toby, and where the wider plot was going. I knew that the seventh book hadn’t had the same impact on me as it should have simply because I forgot what happened. I had read that this eighth book was a game changer and I didn’t want to miss out any emotional impact.
I intended to re-read the series gradually, spacing in between them with other books, but what happened in actual fact was that I raced through the entire series. I genuinely had forgotten a lot of what happened. I only read one book while I was in the midst of my re-read and it was only because I went on holiday to Italy and couldn’t bring all those paperbacks in my luggage.
As with many of us, I loved re-reading as a child and teenager, even as a younger adult. There was a time in my life when I’d read every adult book I owned at least twice and I think my record for an adult book was eight times. This ended when I got old enough to buy books for myself, but I still re-read sporadically then. Unfortunately, once I hit book blogging there wasn’t time any more. My logic went like this: There are so many books in the world. I own a solid chunk of them. I don’t have time to spend reading over again books I’ve already read. But that misses an essential fact; I loved re-reading these books. I enjoyed immersing myself back in Toby’s world so very much. It was fascinating to remind myself of the habits she acquired over the course of the series (coffee addiction – almost absent in the first book, rears up in the middle, vanishes) and the characters she befriends, admires, loves. And with so many books in the series, I could really feel how much things had changed for her, how she’d gone from a lonely woman who had lost everyone who meant something to her to a strong, confident one with friends and family.
I knew I loved these books, but I think re-reading them cemented that for me. I was worried a little bit that they wouldn’t hold up. Seanan McGuire is an auto-buy for me and I’ve read a lot of her books, so I was actually worried that Toby would sound just like all the other characters McGuire has written. She doesn’t and neither do the other characters in this book. In addition, McGuire has obviously grown as a writer since she started writing these books and the last book was jaw-dropping. I picked exactly the right time to do my massive re-read as I genuinely don’t think I’d have gotten the connections as much without it. Yes, McGuire fills in the backstory, but filling in the backstory has never been the same for me as having it in my own memory. I’d rather flip through a paragraph of who Simon Torquill is remembering the emotional impact his actions had on Toby than forget who he is and need that paragraph. This book truly is a game changer, just like the back cover says. Toby is hit by revelation after revelation that change the way she views many parts of her life and which will have a significant impact on future events in her life. I was so glad I could make those connections.
I don’t think I’ll re-read all eight of these books when the ninth comes out, but I am so pleased I’ve reminded myself of how much joy there is in re-reading. This won’t be the last time I read these books.
And this re-read, although it was a few months ago, has sparked another one, which I’m in the midst of at the moment; all of Robin Hobb’s Farseer (and related) books. When I went to hear Robin Hobb give a talk and sign books in honor of Fool’s Assassin a few months ago, I was dismayed by how little I remembered the books. Not small things – big things, like who characters actually were besides Fitz. I shouldn’t have been particularly surprised since I read them in high school (I think – I can’t even remember how I discovered Robin Hobb, let alone when I read Assassin’s Apprentice for the first time, since she was already a favorite when I started recording books I read) and there have been a lot of books between then and now. Rediscovering books I think I’ll love just as much now as I did then seemed like a great way to start 2015 to me, and so here we are.
How do you feel about re-reading your favorite books?