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Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  715 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Is a book the same book-or a reader the same reader-the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never.

The editor of Rereadings is Anne Fadiman, and readers of her bestselling book Ex Libris (FSG, 1998) will find this volume especially satisfying. Her chosen authors include Sven Birkerts, Allegra Goo
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ebook, 272 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 04, 2007 marked it as assorted-rants-about-stuff  ·  review of another edition
Tony Blair (thumbing through the contents): Hey, this one could be interesting. It's a series of essays about the delicate question of what it actually means to have read a book. Do you know what I mean?

A talking donkey : Wow, Tony Blair! What are you doing in one of PB's reviews?

Tony Blair: Er - haven't you seen the news lately? Don't donkeys watch TV any more? I'm supposed to be the middle east peace envoy and look at the place - look at it!

(Tony turns tv on to news channel - blam! pow! Nato
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Max Nemtsov
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Как недвусмысленно показывает название, это сборник прозаических поэм о личных отношениях некоторых людей с некоторыми книгами (и одной пластинкой) + манифест самой Энн Фэдимен о перечитывании. Среди прочего, здесь на примерах объясняется, на ком лежит ответственность за то, почему книжки, от которых нас таращило в детстве и юности, могут очень не понравиться нам потом. На нас. Ну потому, что с мудростью и опытом может случиться, конечно, открытие, что Льюис женоненавистник и расист, а Грин плох ...more
David
An interesting conceit: at the invitation of the editor, the wonderful Anne Fadiman, seventeen writers revisit books they had read in their youth and describe the results.

Unfortunately, the results are mixed, at best. Perhaps one would need to have read all 17 books in question to derive full value from this book. But that seems a little much to expect. Overall, I think I was disappointed in how poorly some of the authors managed to convey the original passion they had felt for their particular
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Corey
Aug 03, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think it is extremely important to note that Anne Fadiman is the editor of this book, not the author, and her preface/introduction was by far the best part of the book. There is something about her writing when she talks about books (reading, rereading, treasuring or otherwise) that is completely lacking in pretension and just comes across as an honest story about her and the book. The rest of the authors included in this book do not share her talent and are prone to egotistical romps through ...more
Trin
A collection of essays in which various authors and essayists discuss rereading their favorite works, from The Charterhouse of Parma to the back of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I haven't read most of the works discussed in this book, so while I enjoyed all of the essays, some of them lost some resonance for me. I actually thought Fadiman's introduction, in which she discusses reading The Horse and His Boy with her son was one of the most effective, perhaps because I feel a personal c ...more
Joyce
It's absurdly touching when people who obviously love books talk about books they loved early in life. This is a collection of seventeen short essays -- admirably equal in quality -- from the "Rereadings" column of _The American Spectator_. One of the recurring themes is how frequently the future writers tended to identify with the second-banana character, not the protagonist.
Karren
I agree with other reviewers in that the essays are (for the most part) only enjoyable if you're familiar with the books the authors have read / re-read: I just wasn't interested in most of the ones I hadn't read, and so I skimmed or skipped almost all of them. Two that I think would be enjoyable to anyone are the essays, "My Life with a Field Guide" and "The Ice Palace." They were quite excellent and truly conveyed the passion of the author/reader.

Generally, I wouldn't recommend this to very ma
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Rikke
I loved the premise of this anthology; it is always a beautiful thing to witness someone talk about the books they love, the books they have found worthy of rereading over and over again. In some ways the books we reread tend to be the books we can't let go of; the books that have shaped us and still haunts us to this very day. After all, why else should we reread them?

While some of the essays in this anthology were beautifully done I also found myself skipping a few along the way. It grew very
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Patty
“At fourteen, I read quickly, furiously compulsively. I went through five, six novels a week or suffered from withdrawal.” Arthur Krystal in his essay, “Kid Roberts and Me.

This collection of essays edited by Anne Fadiman had been one of those books that caught my eye every time I saw it. I just knew there would be at least one essay that would speak to me as a reader. Even though I used to scoff at rereading, I knew these writers were readers and we would be able to relate to one another.

In the
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Barbara
This is fascinating book for the well read. Since I'm not very well read, a lot of these essays were over my head...but they were interesting. Diana Kappel Smith's writing about A Field Guide to Wildflowers and David Michaelis's piece about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover connected the most with me. This book inspires rereadings.
Melissa
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This year I’ve decided to make rereading a priority and so this essay collection was a perfect read to pick up. Just like any essay or short story collection, there are both strong and weak pieces. The book itself isn’t amazing, but the sentiment it shares is an important one. It’s another great reminder that I need to make time to reread books I love.

I wish there had been a few more essays that referenced books I know. I could identify with the piece on Pride and Prejudice and Brideshead Revisi
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Margaret
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grandma
This book had a lot of promise: seventeen writers read a book that they had loved when they first read it, either in their teens or twenties, and then discuss whether the way they felt about it had changed. I thought it would be fun to read re-reviews of books I've read by authors I've read. Unfortunately, I really hadn't heard of any of the writers who wrote the reviews (okay, I've heard of Luc Sante but haven't read anything by him), and I had only read one of the books that was reviewed (two, ...more
Kayla
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anne Fadiman, of Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader fame, put together this anthology from past The American Scholar pieces on rereading. Out of the books discussed, I've only heard of 5 and actually read 1 (the last piece, on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band lyrics, was the only non-book of the bunch, and a very interesting read. Still not a fan of The Beatles, though). I enjoyed this little book, although I do not think it compares to Ex Libris.

While I did not know of the major
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Carrie Lahain
This collection draws from the "Rereadings" section of THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR. Writers consider books that have been pivotal in their personal or intellectual development.

Editor Anne Fadiman has gathered pieces from a wide variety of authors, film makers, and journals writing about everything from PRIDE & PREJUDICE to the album lyrics to SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. The essayists also vary sharply in their approach to their material. Some are nostalgic. Others tongue-in-cheek. A few
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Annabelle
An too-anticipated enjoyment perhaps, of another Anne Fadiman loan from Mr. Montes, is what ruined the read for me. Except for two or three, most of the 17 essays I found exceedingly self-indulgent (to indulge in a favorite's story's impact, past and present, was called for--a few just aimed to indulge the reader in their ramblings in ennui). Or possibly, I may not have been able to connect with some chapters because the books reviewed were obscure to me. Nevertheless, in instances like this, I' ...more
Ellen Keim
A great premise--revisiting books that you read when you were younger and comparing your reactions then and now--but many of the essays come across as heavy-duty literary criticism rather than anecdotal. I felt like I was in over my head most of the time, but I kept on reading anyway. In the end, I wasn't sorry. It's always enriching to read about why others love to read and what they've learned from their reading.

Some of the authors whose work is represented are: Jane Austen, Colette, Katherine
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Anastasia
This is a sweet collection of writings from people going back to a once read and loved book and reading it again with age and experience behind them. Some of the books they revisit are classics, but the more interesting essays are about those books that critics wouldn't place much value on to begin with--for instance, a series of books about a nurse in the 1950s that offered a role model for a career woman, or a nature guide to spotting and naming plants that started one woman's obsession with k ...more
Courtney
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading but for people who were reading Jane Austen and DH Lawrence as kids instead of Judy Blume. Even though I have read very few of the books discussed, what I really liked was the writers' relationships with the books. I love rereading books, and don't do it very often, though I'm looking forward to revisiting some of my childhood favorites with Maddy. My favorite essays were the ones on Pride & Prejudice, Peterson's Field guide to ...more
Karen
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE books on books. This book is collected essays from various writers on their favorite books that they have re-read over and over again! To read about books people are so passionate about is great, but I would have preferred to read about books I heard about as not time is spent on the plot of the books. You leave not really knowing if you'd be interested in the books they're talking about or not. Out of all the essays, I only had heard of three books- Franny and Zooey, Pride and Prejudice, ...more
Tim
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rereadings mixes the memoir and personal essay with literary reflection as authors return to books they read when younger. The essays worked for me whether I had read the books or not. Or liked the books or not. Some reread literary classics like Whitman, Austen, or Stendahl, others children's books, and the list also included a Peterson's guide to Wildflowers and the liner notes to Sgt. Pepper's. I have some serious rereading to do myself in the coming year and I appreciated the ambiguity and h ...more
Susan Quebbeman
May 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves reading
I find myself rereading books I have loved in the past and getting new ideas and insights because of my additional age and life experiences.

Am enjoying this book because I have read some of the lit. that is being reviewed by the authors. In particular, I enjoyed the insights into "Sue Barton, Nurse" because I loved and read the entire series as a young girl. Looking at these books from a grown woman's perspective is very instructive not only of the era they were published in (the 40's or 50"s ?)
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Robert
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful collection of essays about rereading favorite books. Each essay is written by a different author, and the essays (and their subject matter) vary as much as the authors do.

Do you have a book (or more) that you've enjoyed rereading? If so, you'll probably find something recognizable here.

I haven't read most of the books that were described in the essays (some of them are pretty obscure, so it isn't a surprise), but I really enjoyed them vicariously, and enjoyed reading how the authors'
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Heather
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Interesting collection of essays about the various authors experiences reading a book and then revisiting the literature later in life. The essays provided a peek into the personal life of strangers -- some good, some not-so-good. Several of the essays were very enjoyable to read (usually those which reference material I had read myself). I think the more literary minded would enjoy this book more but it was a good read regardless (although I did not relish each story like I did Anne Fadiman's c ...more
Mary Margaret
I loved this set of evocative essays. The set of 17 reviews, each by a different author, of books beloved in their youth was a poignant examination of how as we change, the meanings of the books in our lives also change. It was particularly good timing for me, since I've recently re-read some favourites from many years ago and found it quite distressing how many of them just fell apart for me on re-examination. The variety of books reviewed and authors reviewing them added depth as well (and lef ...more
Pooch
Apr 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oddly enough, I reread parts of Rereadings edited by Anne Fadiman after picking it up at the library. Seventeen authors share books that they have reread as adults and contrast the experience to their youthful impressions of the books. I particularly enjoyed Allegra Goodman's review of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and her thoughts on rereading, " I return to it not because it is the best novel I have ever read, or the most important, but because of the memories and wishes I've folded in it ...more
Anna Szabo
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great- not only do I have to read the books of the seventeen authors featured but now I want to read all the books that those seventeen favored...many for the second time. My must-read list is getting ridiculously long. That being said, this is a great little book for real book lovers. It is nice to read that others get so excited about their favorite books and read them over and over again. Now I don't feel so strange about rereading "Siddhartha" and the "Little Women" series on a yearly basis.
Rosie
Jan 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Fadiman's Ex Libris ages ago. This book has a nice intro, but the first essay is a little pretentious...as are most of the rest...and the book gets progressively duller. To be fair, I was reacting to the English-major-taking-himself-too-seriously aspect of these essays; if that won't turn you off, give'em a try. I have to say, though, that for me the best part of the book is the introduction by Fadiman.
Darleen
I love books about reading! For example, I loved reading Fadiamn's own series of essays on reading, Ex Libris. And, at times, I loved this book, too. But since it's a series of essays written by different people, you can anticipate some uneven quality. Some essays made me want to read the book in question, and some made me question why a particular book had even evoked enough passion for the essayist to begin writing in the first place.
Jonathan
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These pieces are taken from a feature in "The American Scholar" in which various writers were asked to revisit a book that had been important to them when they were younger. A lot of good writing here and worthwhile meditations not only on the selected books but on the joys of reading. Many of the essays made we want to read the subject works and other works by the "reviewers". You can't ask for more than that from a "book about books".
Michael Morris
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read what I choose to of this book of essays. This is a collection of essays written by professional writers who re-read books that had impact on them when they were young. Pretty much the same theme pops up. Re-reading brings back memories of themselves at an earlier time and reminds them how they've changed since. The essay on "Franny and Zooey" and "Brideshead Revisited" touched me as these two books resonated with me when I was young.

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Anne Fadiman, the daughter of Annalee Whitmore Jacoby Fadiman, a screenwriter and foreign correspondent, and Clifton Fadiman, an essayist and critic, was born in New York City in 1953. She graduated in 1975 from Harvard College, where she began her writing career as the undergraduate columnist at Harvard Magazine. For many years, she was a writer and columnist for Life, and later an Editor-at-Larg ...more
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“...the reader who plucks a book from her shelf only once is as deprived as the listener who, after attending a single performance of a Beethoven symphony, never hears it again.” 18 likes
“A dark imagination is, perhaps, more appealing before you know anything about darkness.” 3 likes
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