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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JOAN WICKERSHAM

The joy of re-reading

When I was 18, I became friends with a writer who was in his early 30s, and I asked him one day what he was reading. “Actually,” he said, “I’ve gotten to the stage where I’ve started re-reading.” Oh, dear, I thought, I guess he’s run out of books. I felt a little sorry for him, and also alarmed by the notion that maybe there were only enough good books in the world to occupy me for another dozen years or so. Was my friend hinting that there comes a point when we’re all stuck with reruns?

Now, more than three decades later, I know what he meant. You never run out of good books, but as much fun as it is to discover something new, one of life’s great joys is re-reading: going back to a book for the second or third or fifth time, and seeing how it has deepened and expanded since your last visit.

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