I love rereading. Some books I have always loved and will always love, others I didn’t love, but am willing to give a second chance because some books are better when you can understand all their nuances in a way you just can’t when you’re ten. Several of the books now on my bookshelf have been at my parents’ house, away from me, since I left for college, so it’d been years and years since I read them.
Rereading these books was particularly interesting, because the way I read has changed a lot. I want to say it’s since I started writing seriously, but I think it was actually reading critically -- beta reading -- that had more of an effect on how I read published books. I pay more attention to small flaws I never cared about before.
But I remember how much I loved some of these books as a teen -- or younger in some cases, and I was a little apprehensive that I’d be let down. I did notice things in these books that I hadn’t before. One is a 591 page contemporary, and after I finished, I spent a good twenty minutes debating with myself about which of the many interwoven subplots could’ve been cut to tighten up the story a little. Another referred to a well-known New Hampshire landmark by a completely wrong name. A third had dialogue that read sort of stiffly.
But I still enjoyed these books, like I always had, if in a different way, because I told myself that while I could think about those things, I didn’t need to let them mean more than the good things: great premises, great plots, interesting characters, etc. So I think I learned something, about keeping criticism in its place, and not letting it ruin my reading experience, because sometimes a flawed book is not a bad book*.
*as I wrote the last line I felt the need to say: this post is in no way meant to be a criticism of critical reviews, which I think rock.