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reading tiger

This post is inspired by a recent article in SF Signal but there's nothing there you need to read before proceeding.

I am not a big re-reader. I am definitely not a big re-reader of fiction. Part of it is that I do not read for comfort, so I don't return to "old friends" when I am feeling in need of it. Part of it is that I have a pretty strong memory and I don't need to actually re-read books in order to re-experience the parts I like. Part of it is that I'd rather spend my time with new books and new perspectives and stuff.

I do re-read nonfiction a little bit more often, as it happens. But only a little.

But there is one book that I did, indeed, re-read so often that I literally wore it out. By the time I was done with it, it was a stack of loose pages between a ragged pair of clothbound bits of cardboard. I carefully toted that stack around for a few more years before finally retiring it in honor.

It was an old edition of Bullfinch's Age of Mythology, illustrated with line drawings of Classical sculptures, that came from the collection of my great-grandfather, the one who was mysteriously murdered in Mexico. Someday I am going to think about what it meant that he had so many books and his son had so few -- so few that my mother was reduced to reading soup can labels for fun as a child -- but that's for another time.

Part of the reason I wore it out was simply because of its age, but it is also true that it was a constant, yes, everyday companion of mine for a few years there when I was just entering double digits. (I guess in modern terms that would make me a tween.)

This anecdote has no anchor -- it's not here to shine insight onto who I am now (if you see some, let me know?) or anything like that. I am mostly just amused to know that, yes, I really really did wear out a book once through incessant re-reading. Not a cheap mass-market acid-full paperback, either, but a stately hardcover. Disintegrated. I did that.