The Guilt of Re-Reading Books

It is a rather marvelous thing to be surrounded by books all day at work. Books that have changed the world, books that might still change the world; books that remind you of the best of times and the worst of times in your own life; books that matter and books that only matter to you. But also, in a bookshop the size of Blackwell’s on Broad St there are inevitably dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of books that you haven’t read and that you wish you had.

No biggie. Accept that there will be books that I don’t get around to reading – read the books that I want to read, not feel that I should read.

But this ‘problem’ does still have an angle that perturbs me; I often feel guilty about re-reading books rather than cracking on with something new to me. And so this morning I was clearing some of my bookshelves at home and Don DeLillo’s masterpiece Underworld was sitting in my hands staring up at me. I read this book back in the mists of time – 1998 I think, but great swathes of it have remained with me, especially the Prologue – 63 pages of compelling detail about a baseball game. I really fancied reading it again and have spent a lovely couple of hours this afternoon transported to the bleachers at the Polo Grounds watching the Giants and the Dodgers play for the 1951 National League pennant. Bobby Thompson’s ‘Shot heard ’round the World’ and all.

No guilt for me today. Just pure unadulterated pleasure.

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