In June, I will be moving back home to Highlands Ranch from Denver, where I have been living for the past four years. It’s kind of weird to realize just how accustomed I’ve grown to living in the city, even when before then I had lived in Highlands Ranch with my family all my life. Over Easter weekend, I already started moving some of my surplus stuff back into my old room, organizing and putting the stuff I won’t need until I move out again into boxes and down into the basement storage.
Part of this included finding a ton of my old books. Most of them will go straight into storage, because I either read them recently enough, or remember them well enough to know whether or not I want to keep them forever. While consolidating the boxes of books, however, I found a good shelf’s worth of books that I needed to take out so I could re-read them (or in some cases of books that had been given to me by an old university minister, read for the first time). A handful of these books are novels that I don’t particularly remember, and need to re-read to even get a handle on them. Most of them are old religious books. Some of them are reflective, some of them are ‘how-to’ books (how to date, how to behave, how to handle yourself), and very few of them are the type of theology tomes that I’ve been poring over on my time in college. I remember these books fairly well and I remember enjoying them in high school- but will I enjoy them now? Now that I’ve been exposed to feminist theology, liberation theology, and the changing emphasis in today’s Church? Will the things I learned from these books about how to relate between genders (at a time when science is beginning to understand gender as a spectrum, rather than a binary), to relate to myself, to relate to my community; will they be things that I will want to teach my own children someday, knowing what I know now? What I will want to pass on to future generations of faithful, if I end up achieving my dream of being a youth minister? So far, in the couple I’ve already re-read over my break, the thankful answer is yes. (Turns out I had impeccable taste as a teen, lol).
This exercise in re-reading began with a desire to organize. To cut away the unnecessary bulk in my storage, to separate the chaff from the wheat, so to speak. What I’m finding, however, is that re-reading isn’t just something that can be done for fun. It’s something that should be regularly done throughout one’s life journey. Even with the books I end up still agreeing with, I find that I am now better equipped to speak of nuance. Different things speak to me. I can connect what used to be abstract themes to concrete concepts in my field of study. In my own life experience. It’s teaching me a lot about myself- seeing the things I ear-marked or highlighted then, and seeing what sticks out to me now. Re-reading is a good way in which to take inventory of your own life. What genres were you in to ten years ago that you wouldn’t touch now? What kind of characters did you enjoy then that you write ranty blogs about on the weekend today? What relationships in narratives bothered you in high school that you now understand because you’ve been through that? What began as an exercise in organization has become an exercise of re-discovery and understanding.
So how about you, reader? What book do you think you should give a re-read soon?