Welcome to Smugglivus 2017! Throughout this month, we will have guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2017, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2018, and more.
This year I have gotten back into re-reading. I used to reread frequently, reading favorite books again and again and again. In high school my room was full of bookshelves and I was always pulling something off of them to read again. Reading was then as is now one of my favorite ways to spend time, and with less pressure to read more books and fewer responsibilities I read a lot and reread a lot too. I read new stuff of course but only what I found browsing the local SFF bookstore (which did have a great selection) or at the library. Or sometimes I would hear about a book via word of mouth. But finding out about new books as they came out was harder.
As time went on and I got more involved with online book culture I re-read less and less. There’s just always something new and interesting to read. I find out about books before they are published rather than waiting to stumble upon them. I have a much wider network than I did in high school. I want to read the books all my online friends are talking about. Once I started nominating for the Hugos it got worse. I want to read all the books (and short fiction) to make sure I don’t miss anything worthy. I’ve been getting a bit stressed out about reading rather than allowing it to be a fun and relaxing activity.
My journey back to rereading has been slow but a couple of things happened this year to remind me of just how nice rereading can be. New books came out in two of my favorite series: Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief and Marie Brennan’s The Memoirs of Lady Trent. I was determined to re-read all the existing books in both series before reading the newest instalments. This was a totally great decision. Reading the whole series allowed me to see how all the little details fit together across books. The Queen’s Thief is especially fun to re-read because it has some many twists. And Brennan’s careful worldbuilding really rewards rereading. The little details of custom and manner really shine when seen all together.
Also I co-wrote a piece on the Vorkosigan Saga, another favorite series, and that inspired me to re-read several volumes of that series, and reminded me of how nice it is to visit with favorite characters again.
So between all these projects I was reminded of many great aspects of rereading: you can go back and see the clues leading up to plot twists, you can revisit fantastic worlds and pay attention to how they are put together, and you can go back and visit old friends.
Besides it’s so nice to read a book and not be worried about how it will end – I mean I like being excited to find out what happens next but rereading lets me relax into a book much more.
I’m certainly not going to give up on reading new books, but I am going to try not let fear of missing out and awards season rush me through reading all the new things and will take more time to reread and read some older works. I’m still intimidated by rereading Middlemarch, (which I’ve been telling myself I ought to do for a while now) but I hope to spend more time in the coming year revisiting familiar worlds and old friends.
Forestofglory reads lots of short fiction and posts recommendations on her blog as well as writing a quarterly column on short fiction for Lady Business. She was on the world science fiction society (WSFS -the governing body of the the Hugos) committee for the YA award that helped create the YA Award which will be presented for the first time next year!