Books Remain the Same

Reading a book–in any way that thrills you–is an experience. There are books that I have read more and more slowly as I came to the end because I couldn’t bear to not have the characters in my life. Pillars of the Earth. The Cider House Rules. The Women’s Room. The Thorn Birds

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There are books I forced myself to finish because I knew I should. Middlemarch. Bleak House. Portrait of an Artist as  Young Man. The Red and the Black.

There are books I could not force myself to finish, even if they were short, and popular. My eyes rolled so hard I was afraid they would get stuck in the top of my skull. The Bridges of Madison County. Anything by Nicholas Sparks.

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And years later, the opinion formed the first time I read the book becomes how I think of the book.

Lately, I’ve taken to re-reading books I loved or hated years ago. There have been some big surprises. Books that I thought were complex and deep suddenly seem less nuanced. Books that I thought were silly and trivial now seem to strike the heart of human experience.

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Slowly it dawned on me. The books are the same. Same words. Same content. But the reader has changed. Life does that to you. And as the reader changes, so does the opinion of the book. As true as it is that one does not step into the same river twice, it is true that a reader does not read the same book twice.

And that is why every room of my house has a bookcase jammed with books. Because I keep going back to read books that have changed while sitting patiently on the shelf.

–Quinn McDonald also reads ebooks and listens to audiobooks. She loves it all.