Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Would You Want to Forget Your Favorite Books?

girl with book
Flickr Credit: Tom Martin
Perhaps you have seen this sentiment floating around:

“I wish that I could forget my favorite series so I could read it for the first time again.” [insert dreamy sigh here]

Usually I ignore such silliness, but the last time I saw someone say it, I was annoyed. Annoyed enough to talk about it. Because why on earth would this appeal to anyone? (Also, I needed to write something for today.)

I would never, ever want to forget my favorite series—any of them—simply for the same of enjoying them for the first time again.

I wouldn’t enjoy them the same way. I wouldn’t! I first encountered many of the books I call favorite when I was younger and less well-read. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to bash my younger self or books written for younger audiences. I just have a very different perspective now. When I bring up Harry Potter, it’s to express my frustration with its fascist government. When I discuss Ranger’s Apprentice, it’s to bemoan the sexism therein. I even struggle to muster enthusiasm for my favorite series, H.I.V.E., sometimes—there are SO MANY ADVERBS and it drives me bazonkers. I’ve liked these books. I still like these books. But part of my willingness to love them comes from a respect for the perspective I had when I first read them—a perspective I wouldn’t have now.

On that note, I made these books my favorites, and me alone. The books had something good in them that made me latch onto them, but simply being good doesn’t make a book worthy of my favorites shelf. I have to reread these books. Learn them. Adventure with them. Think and ponder and want and dream and hope and fangirl. I love this book because I’ve traveled with it—and who’s to say that I’ll have an equally enchanting journey once I forget the story? I’m grateful for what I’ve already got, thanks.

Also, forgetting your favorite series to enjoy it again seems a little vague. How much of the series do you lose? Do you lose just the events of the text? Do you entirely forget the characters? Do you forget things about the days when you read those books? Do you lose every memory you have associated with that book? Will you ever get those memories back? I realize that such questions remove all the fun from an innocent, what-if wish. But the answers actually matter to me. Being a reader has been important to me for a long time—I have made close friendships through books. I have drawn closer to certain family members through books. Books have offered life lessons and inspiration and influenced who I am today.

Forgetting books could make me forget meaningful parts of my life, and even parts of myself. Does that really seem like a good idea to anyone? (If it does, please do read More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. He might help.)


Reading a book for the first time is a magical experience, and something to be treasured when you find a book that is really, really good. I know that it’s something we want to remember because it’s meaningful to us as readers. But I think that’s the point of a first experience—it’s something that can’t be replicated, and that’s what makes it special. To replicate that experience would, in a way, dishonor the very point of first reads. And also be kind of irresponsible and silly, in my opinion.

We begin our journey with books as one person. We end as another. We don’t have to like it, but I think we have to embrace it anyway. Otherwise, how will we read? How will we reread? And why will it matter?

What is one book you’ve read that you never want to forget?


14 comments :

  1. I completely agree with you. One of my favorite series when I was younger was The Chronicles of Narnia, and even though I still love them, I know I wouldn't be nearly as enchanted if I read them for the first time now. It's the same with most of my favorites, I think, because they all boil down to a case of the right book at the right time. It's an experience you just can't replicate.

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    1. That's very true, isn't it? "The right book at the right time." When you put it like that, it's kind of amazing that we do find these books that speak to us and make us happy and excited at those perfect times—because it's also true that some people never do.

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  2. You know what, I'm one of those annoying people. But only because there's a certain sort of magic to discovering a book or series for the first time. You're definitely right, though - Harry Potter would not even have 1% of the impact it did if I were to read it now for the first time. A massive part of it was growing up with the series. Interesting post :)

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    1. That magic is kind of nice, I admit. For me, it really comes in later reads, which perhaps contributes to my lack of sympathy. And, growing up with a series always counts for something.

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  3. Hmm. On the one hand, I think it would be cool to have the feeling of reading a book for the first time. There's something magical about not knowing what will happen or which characters you're going to like best. But on the other, I don't think it would be the same as actually reading the book for the first time. It's an interesting question!

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    1. I'm beginning to realize that I'm making an unpopular case for team Anti-Magic. XD I suppose I've never thought of it on those terms. But, yeah, reproduction doesn't always happen as such.

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  4. *brain blows up* I've always been in the let-me-forget-and-enjoy-again camp, because there's something so magical about finishing an amazing book for the first time and going *wow*. Although now I feel like I must agree with you, because the damage that comes with forgetting all those memories associated with those books would far outweigh the rewards of reading it for the first time. I've grown up with my favourite books, and they're a part of me. Maybe I'll just have to settle with reading new favourites for the first time, and just be happy with that. Interesting post!

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    1. I mean, a lot of my questions are just to challenge the idea. I know a lot of people want to experience the magic again but since no one ever seems to discuss the cost I don't always know what to say about it. I hope we DO have many more new favorites to come, though!

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  5. You know, funnily enough, there was a time when I was in the "forget and re-love" camp, but as soon as I read your title, I knew that me now wouldn't want to do that. And you explained exactly why absolutely perfectly in this post. <3 I have a lot of favorites that I just wouldn't love now the way I loved then if I read them for the first time now. Plus, they meant a lot to me at the time that I read them; many of them I would even say transformed my reading life, which, by default, transforms much of my real life. I couldn't risk losing that.
    So yeah, reading for the first time is a single and special experience, and I wouldn't want to forget it for anything. :)


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

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    1. Interesting how the way you approached this post was a surprise to you. I think it is like Alex said previously, about finding the right book at the right time. And, yes, books have such a great influence on our real lives—I can't imagine losing that, either.

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  6. Honestly, reading an awesome book for the first time has an amazing feel to it but forgetting about it? Nah. Sure, reading a book again takes away the feeling of not knowing and kind of 'ruins' a book but if we could forget about our favourite books, how could we discuss and review the books? How could we explore the themes if we could just 'forget' when we just wanted to?

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    1. Yeah, I definitely don't like the idea of knowing "ruining" a book because I am a heavy rereader and I think rereading only improves something. And, that is also true, if it was an on-demand scenario.

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  7. Except for maybe the HP series, I rarely feel like re-reading books if I remember a good part of it (like a chunk of sequence of events)..

    There have been times though when I have forgotten a lot of details and reading it almost felt like reading a new book...

    It is like.. I remember a bit of how it all ends, and remember how exhilarated I felt going through some chapters, but have forgotten exactly how all that happens..

    One example I can think of is Kane and Abel .. which I first read when I was in 6th grade and then again picked it up years later . I loved it again and remembered just why I loved it so much the first time... because the first time I read it, I was 11 and at an age when I kept changing my answer about "What do I want to do when I grow up" and my answer then was some vague one like a corporate underdog aiming to be a bigshot and ruling the stock market ... hehe.. I had no idea what all that meant but it felt so exciting...
    So Kane and Abel was about all that and when I read it again years later, I understood it better and was as thrilled as the first time...

    Ishita
    (bookmyopia/wordpress)

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    1. Huh, that's interesting. Even if I don't remember a book immediately, once I start rereading the plot all tends to come back to me.

      That's an interesting favorite story to choose! Glad that you felt thrilled the second time and understood the story better. Thanks for sharing, Ishita!

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