Last week, I came across an article that suggested that reading a book for a second time can offer mental health benefits. My first thought was, "Oh, this is great! I'm not crazy!" I said this because I've re-read certain books more than once a year--some since I was a child.(And with any luck I've benefited mentally in the process...)
This got me thinking about why I read certain books again and again, and the impact that some of those books have had on me. Some offer the comfort--and delicious anticipation--of a well-trodden path (Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, and now, Harry Potter). Others offer the dream of a different world (The Time Quintent by Madeleine L'Engle, and now, The Hunger Games), or tugged at something in my being-- (For example, I can see now that Little Women and The Little House books directly contributed to my desire to be a teacher).
Reflecting now, however, I think the book that may have had the biggest impact on me as a historian--and as a writer--was The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958), by Elizabeth George Speare. Set in late seventeenth-century New England, this Newberry winner tells the story of Kit, a hoity-toity miss from Barbadoes, who accidentally defies convention, ruffles the Puritan community, and comes to be accused--and tried--as a witch. Richly drawn characters, simple but elegant writing, and a delicately plotted narrative make this book, for me, a model for powerful storytelling.
Even more importantly, sitting down with this book--even as an adult-- makes me feel like I am sitting down with a friend.
I'm curious--what books comfort and inspire you? Are there books that you seek out, to re-read and enjoy again? What makes you want to read a book again? (I'll read your comments when I finish re-reading my book...)
Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.