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Nostalgia and re-reading

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  • Nostalgia and re-reading

    I thought about this when I was posting a a different thread, and thought it was interesting enough to start a new thread. What is it like to revisit old favorites? Does nostalgia shade your reading? Do you revisit too many memories associated with the work and your time reading it originally? Or does a poor re-reading kill your positive nostalgia?

  • #2
    Since we’re on Mike’s site, I can think of one clear example of how this is a complicated set of questions. I read all the Elric stories when I was 14 or 15, and they resonates with an adolescent who was going through existential crises every day. But they were also more
    mature and dark than the stuff my friends and I were reading at the time, so it really felt dangerous to be reading.

    I re-read all of them in my thirties, and saw some of the problems with the books, like the limits of creating novels from linked short stories. And as someone who had a little more life experience, they seemed much less dangerous, even though I appreciated the darkness a little differently. I still loved them, but differently. Having said that, there is something about the purity of my teenage response to them that I kind of miss. In some ways the two reads through them are obviously separate experiences, and the later reading doesn’t negate the earlier one, but...

    This is, of course, far different than re-reading an old favorite, only to discover it is utter crap on a re-read.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Doc View Post
      I thought about this when I was posting a a different thread, and thought it was interesting enough to start a new thread. What is it like to revisit old favorites? Does nostalgia shade your reading? Do you revisit too many memories associated with the work and your time reading it originally? Or does a poor re-reading kill your positive nostalgia?
      Sometimes a rereading is good, sometimes it's bad, sometimes it's both. But sometimes... a reread invokes the dreaded Suck Fairy.

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      • #4
        I used to read each comic book I bought 3 times after buying it because I didn't have a lot of them to read and because I enjoyed it. But books, I am not such a fast reader and I have not read all I wanted. Things I read more than once:

        Ender's Game/Speaker of the Dead
        Lord of The Rings
        Elric of melniboné
        Anubis gates
        Shadow of the torturer ( when I read the 12 books of the solar cycle I sometimes read chapters 2 or 3 times ) and I am slowly reading the five first books again.
        I plan to read The Dying Earth again as well as Planet of Adventure.

        "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
        "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post

          Sometimes a rereading is good, sometimes it's bad, sometimes it's both. But sometimes... a reread invokes the dreaded Suck Fairy.

          It’s hard to argue with Jo Fletcher. That’s a great read.

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          • #6
            [QUOTE=zlogdan But books, I am not such a fast reader and I have not read all I wanted.

            [/QUOTE]

            I know someone who thought re-reading anything was a waste of time because there was always so much more they wanted to read. It felt like a waste of valuable time to them, because they measured much of the value of their life in reading quantity.


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            • #7
              So not to beat a dead horse, but I was reminded of this thread as I was driving. I still listen to the radio (everyone is allowed to make fun of that). Anyway, I realized that an objectively terrible song was still
              pretty awesome because 15 year old me was also listening to it.

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              • #8
                We all have our guilty, even not so guilty, pleasures.

                I saw Ursula LeGuin speak once and she and others on the panel started talking about reading bad books, including if I remember correctly romance novels, and she joked they were like roughage and roughage is good because it keeps us regular.

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                • #9
                  In honor of this thread, I am re-reading an old favorite—Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. This is my third read. So far it holds up as well as I wanted it too, even after looking through some negative reviews on goodreads, the worst of which accused it of being sexist at best and misogynistic at worst. For the record, I don’t see it all (maybe the nostalgia blinders), and it still seems like it won a bunch of awards for a good reason. It also takes me back to the two other times I read it, which makes it an interesting way to measure some of the changes in my life.

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                  • #10
                    Some books I reread with my daughter and they don’t hold up well. Others, I find new joys. Mike has taught me to really appreciate solid pacing and development, and I find I really look for that.

                    I’m rereading the Sundered Worlds for the third time, but it’s been 25 years since the last time. It’s holding up well.

                    There’s some books that I’ve reread a few times and they still hold up well:

                    Narnia (though the pacing is mostly a problem)
                    Chronicles of Amber
                    Earthsea
                    Thieves World

                    When I retire in 15 or 20 years, my plan is to reread all of Mike’s books. I’ve read some books a couple times, but not many. I look forward to tackling them again with mature eyes.

                    Does nostalgia play a factor? I’m sure it does. I love the power of nostalgia in my life. I like music and shows and books and even toys that remind me of good times. If a book (like Sundered Worlds) can do that to me, it’s a great thing. Do some books not live up to memory? Yep. Sometimes that happens. I’m reading a kids book called Starluck 35 years after I first read it, and it’s not near as cool as it was in my memory. Oh well. I’m glad I loved it as a kid. 🤷🏻‍♂️
                    "Self-discipline and self-knowledge are the key. An individual becomes a unique universe, able to move at will through all the scales of the multiverse - potentially able to control the immediate reality of every scale, every encountered environment."
                    --Contessa Rose von Bek, Blood part 4, chapter 12

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J-Sun View Post
                      Thieves World
                      These books passed through my circle of friends when I was in Middle School/ High School. I would definitely read them, at least in part, with 14 year old eyes (that don't need bifocals haha).

                      I would also think that Earthsea and Amber hold up well. They are sometimes mentioned by Hollywood producers, so there must be something there.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Doc View Post

                        These books passed through my circle of friends when I was in Middle School/ High School. I would definitely read them, at least in part, with 14 year old eyes (that don't need bifocals haha).

                        I would also think that Earthsea and Amber hold up well. They are sometimes mentioned by Hollywood producers, so there must be something there.
                        My top 5 fantasy series ever:
                        The Multiverse - lets be honest; it all links together. Elric, Bastable, Una... they’re all linked
                        Thieves World - 12 volumes, 6 spinoffs, 3 sequels
                        Earthsea - 6 books
                        Amber - 10 books and some stories
                        ...
                        number five is tough because I’ve been collecting things from 100 Best Fantasy by Cawthorn and Mike, and my to-read list is growing. At this point, probably the Swords Chronicles by Saberhagen (12 books, 4 prequels), but ask me again in a couple years after my to-read list is further along and it might change.

                        Tolkien and Lewis might make top ten, but they’re not my top five. 🤷🏻‍♂️
                        "Self-discipline and self-knowledge are the key. An individual becomes a unique universe, able to move at will through all the scales of the multiverse - potentially able to control the immediate reality of every scale, every encountered environment."
                        --Contessa Rose von Bek, Blood part 4, chapter 12

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We may have to revive or restart a favorites thread in the book section. Maybe a top five now vs a top five then...

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