An important practice.
I've sworn off social media (Notes not included) for a few months to give my attention span a fighting chance. As a kid I'd reread Danny Champion of the World, and then as an early teen Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams. By my late teens it was Irvine Welsh. Now I'm lucky if I get through a lot that I pick up. Hence the social pause.
Agree—both about remembering re-reading cereal boxes (I’m of a certain age so would have read the phone book if bored) and classics. I just listened to a podcast about focus and reading and it’s sadly true for me that sometimes the re-read is a reminder that we need to work at maintaining the focus and attention in the digital world. I had spells of time when I could not read anything more than a cookbook or a magazine, but have worked myself back to my younger habit of reading everything!
I always find myself journaling again in December & January. I used to feel bad about not keeping it up throughout the year, but now I just accept that this is when I'm at my most introspective/reflective and enjoy the lessons that come to the fore.
One of the re-reading habits I have is "merchandising" the bottom/eye-level row in my built-in bookcase. Every so often, I'll arrange that row into new reads and old favorites. It reminds me visually what I want to revisit and what I need to read before I buy myself *more* new books!!
I too reread White Girls. Hinton Al's capacity to engage a reader fascinates me. How does he do it what he does?
Although I missed the deadline, I hope you (or someone you find) deals with food obsessed people's return to civilian life. Civilian eating. I find it mysterious.
"Pitch for Alicia Kennedy: Gone, my passion to steam green beans just so— tailing them went first. I no longer prick Royal Anne cherries with a sterile needle and preserve them in pale vetch syrup. Gone the seasonal need to replicate my Swedish grandmother’s fragrant Orange Rye bread.
I love re-reading books (and boxes, and labels). My personal library of physical books was significantly decreased in 2010 by a flood. Ever since then I remain partial to digital and/or library books (fortunately I can see my local library from my front porch).
I'm rereading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I decided that December is going to be my fun and playful month, especially around my creativity. So I'm playing with words, with yarn, and seeing where that takes me.
My end of the year rituals include choosing a "word of the year" (WOTY). I've done it for over a decade now, and I really love the process of it (what will it be?) and the foundation I keep coming back to throughout the year. Last year I cheated a bit, and chose a three word mantra: Accept. Adjust. Adapt. For 2024, I've chosen Fortitude. I'd love to know any other WOTY out there!
The following two articles by Tim Parks from 2015 opened up my mind to re-reading. I've been an avid re-reader of literature following my first trials ever since. I already sense in a first reading if I feel the need and want to hold on to a book for re-reading either immediately or at a future date. I also know immediately after reading that a book I've read once will never be re-read (by me). Those books go into the pile for future deposit in the free used books shelves outside a church around the corner from Lüneburg's university.
The Key to Rereading | Tim Parks | The New York Review of Books (nybooks.com) and https://www.nybooks.com/online/2015/06/26/reading-is-forgetting/
Regrettably both are locked, but you could gain access if you or a friend has a subscription to the NYRB. I have a Word version of the first article that I could upload (if I knew how to do that on Substack). Tim Parks is great on language and writing and translation, and you, Alicia, and others may be acquainted with his work.
This time of year the ritual is always just to survive. But I do feel I’m getting better at that as time passes and I’m proud.
Like everyone else here I’m also trying to retrain my attention to go deeper. More rereading for me is a big resolution for the new year. But I guess I’ve allowed myself to ease into the focus thing, because this year I’ve actually found great joy rereading a bunch of children’s books since I’m newly in charge of my little self-directed school’s library. I was delighted to rediscover Walk Two Moons, A Wrinkle in Time, The House on Mango Street, A Light in the Attic, Fox All Week, The Blue Moose; and even picture books like Draw Me a Star, The Night Kitchen, and Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum. (I didn’t remember how heavily early chapter book lit leaned on dead mom tropes, lol). Soon I’ll get to the section of bonafide literature which I’m really looking forward to rereading. And almost once a year I like dipping back into the My Brilliant Friend series. I’ll also be bringing your book to reread on my trip to visit the in-laws!