Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book 95: On Rereading...

I first read this as a high school senior. I picked it at random from the AP list my English teacher had given out. I didn’t know what it was about going into it. I think, had I known then, I wouldn’t have chosen it. What I read shocked and scared me. The book was so real, so violent, and in my face. Looking back at it, I’m surprised I finished it. It was nothing like what I expected.

Now, I am reading this from a completely different perspective. I read this again in college for an African-American Literature class and gained a whole other point of view to read it from. I learned to appreciate the subtleties and language, the pain and the suffering.

I’m reading this from the same edition I read in high school. It is full of little comments and insights that make me laugh-not because they’re funny but because they’re pretty shallow. I missed so much depth and complexity in that first read, that I am learning a lot from myself as a reader.

The things that I have underlined or starred are nothing that impact the actual power of the story. I also have way too many things misspelled for my grammar loving heart. But I really love seeing my little "aha!" moments as I read, when I begin to piece things together and jot them down.

This is truly the joy and pleasure in rereading. I seem to be in a little spurt of rereads recently, and they have all shown me how much I have grown. Now I am seeing how Walker really uses language to draw her reader in from the beginning. She is clever and sharp, making me feel Celie's pain as if I was there with her. While I remembered the lingering feeling of pain from my previous rereads, I forgot the beginning.

What makes this such an emotional and powerful story is that Walker brings us directly in to Celie's world. Nothing is sugarcoated. From the beginning, we are hit with raw, ragged pain as we begin to understand what is happening to Celie:

"He never have a kine word to say to me. Just say You gotta do what your mammy wouldn't. ..when that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it. But I don't never git used to it," (1-2).

See? From the beginning, we are pulled in to the pain that Celie suffers (I did leave a small but out in the middle of that quote). I forgot the beginning and the strong feelings it already invokes.

I wonder what else I will suddenly remember as I continue onward. Already I am jumping ahead in my thought process and remembering bits and pieces, names, people. I am already yearning for that scene that makes me so proud of Celie, but I know I'm not there yet. :) For now I will just continue to soak up and enjoy the mastery of Walker's words and the memories they bring back.

**I'm sorry if the formatting is wonky. I am pre-scheduling these and this was written in word and transferred over. It seems to have messed up a bit, at least from what I can see on my preview screen**


  1. I honestly can't stand to read old notes of mine, which is the reason I never write in books. I only wrote in one once, on Jason's urging after we first met, for my first reading of The Bell Jar. I was never able to go back and read the book because of those notes. Eventually I threw it away and got another copy...I would have just donated it, except I couldn't stand anyone else seeing those notes either. :D

  2. I love re-reading books, expecially books I read when I was much younger. You think you remember the plot, but then once you read it for a second time you realize you really had no idea.

    Sometimes when I get second hand books I get to read somebody elses notes. It's interesting, because you get to see what was in another person's mind when they read it. (Of course, I've gotten a few books where the notes are just weird and make me wonder what drugs the person was on while reading...)

  3. Re-reading a book always helps you pick up on things which you didn't on your first read. For example, I actually read The Fountainhead back to back, and both times, I picked up and enjoyed completely different things. I've re-read the book some ten times since, and each time, I find something else that is pivotal to it.

    I enjoyed The Color Purple when I first read it a couple of years ago, and haven't marked it for a re-read yet. However, perusing your thoughts on re-reading it, I wonder if I, in fact, should, mark it for another read.

  4. I really loved the first half of TCP, but afterwards I wasn't as hooked.

    I've decided that I will set a certain amount of my reading time just for re-reads per year. Between the read-alongs, challenges and new releases, re-reads often go down the priority list.

  5. I love reading so much. It really is an amazing thing to experience the book with a new perspective and see how you've changed