Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old Friends

This year I joined a Facebook Group in which all the members are trying to read 100 books in 2010. Every month we all post the titles of the books we read. This has been a fabulous source of recommendations for new books to read, and I'm thoroughly enjoying my participation. While I've discovered many new titles and authors this year, I also find myself returning to old friends, re-reading classics like The Outsiders, and Edward Eager's Magic books, and more modern classics like the Harry Potter books. And there's nothing that give me greater pleasure than receiving an e-mail from a reader who tells me he (or she) has read and re-read one of my books, like Ghost Cadet, and considers it an old friend.

I really love discovering new books which will become old friends and be re-read in their turn in time, but there's no question that I also treasure my time curled up with old friends, especially when life gets difficult. There's nothing more comforting in tough times than a cup of mint tea and an old friend, although these days I more often than not find myself reading my old friends on my new iPad. I'm not clinging to old friends as a way to avoid moving forward in the literary world, either in terms of not wanting to discover new friends, or not wanting to use new technology.

I guess I'm still a Girl Scout at heart, remembering when we used to sing around the campfire:
Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
And the other gold.

I'm not sure whether my old book friends are silver or gold, but I treasure both the old and the new. Do you find yourself returning to old friends as you read, also?


  1. Once in awhile, you just need to read Little Women again, you know? Or the Moomins. Or LOTR. Or Jane Eyre. Or...

    And sometimes I'll need to author binge; most commonly Diana Wynne Jones or Christopher Isherwood, but it could be anybody with more than five books and a consistent voice.

    People have to plan to read 100 books in a year? I guess if you're reading a lot of magazines...Or maybe you just don't know how many you read till you start tracking. I'm behind my usual curve for various reasons and I just cracked 160.

  2. I know, Peni - I was surprised too. I'm around 160 right now, like you. If you're a teacher and you read lots of student papers, I'm sure it's harder to devour books. I remember when I taught for ICL, I had less time for reading. Some months have really surprised me this year, though - I'd have a really heavy writing month and think I hadn't read that much, only to discover that I'd read more books than I'd finished in a "lighter" month. I guess the more you try to do, the more you actually end up doing in the end! I'm not sure the Facebook group meant us to count old friends, but to me, a book read is a book read, whether it's a new discovery (not all of which have been delights, I must admit) or an old friend, so I've been counting them all.

    And yes, I tend to author binge also - Diana Wynne Jones is one, Diane Duane is another. And Tamora Pierce. JKR too, of course.