After the murders, when I was grasping for comfort, I fell headfirst into Stevenson's Kidnapped and that felt exactly right. But since then, books have not desired me. I pick one up, read a few lines, and then set it down again on the kitchen table. My mind wanders away from the story instead of burrowing into it. The tale and I are well mannered but estranged.
In my essay about rereading War and Peace (which I believe I reprinted in its entirety somewhere on this blog--the essay, not W&P), I wrote:
On its simplest level, rereading books is a childish habit, like biting my nails or agreeing to play Monopoly only if I can be the dog. But children understand there’s satisfaction in familiarity. When I reread a book, I’m already prepared for all sudden deaths and thwarted romances. The shock of the new is not, to me, a literary recommendation. It’s not that I dislike discovering unknown books. I just like reading them again better. Sometimes my desire to reread a well-loved book erupts twice in one year, sometimes once in a decade. Often I reread books I only sort of enjoyed the first time through, and fairly often I reread books that actively annoy me but that I hope will have a medicinal effect on my character or my brain. I’ve been known to reread books that have no good qualities whatsoever, just for old times’ sake.
Now I'm seeing not reading as its own childish reaction--a refusal to concentrate, a stubborn resistance to imagination. At the same time I know this separation won't last. And I'm wondering which book will be the one that recasts the spell.