The Joys of Rereading

Written By John Tintera

About ten years ago I came across an essay by Bishop (RC) Morneau of Green Bay, Wisconsin, that changed my life. It was a short article extolling the joys of re-reading. I know that doesn't sound like the topic for a life-changing essay, but in it Morneau argued persuasively that re-reading y our favorite books can be more profitable than reading new ones (or ones that are new to you).

My years in college opened me up to the vast horizon of the world's literature, and at the same time I began to take a deep interest in religion and theology. I couldn't read fast enough  the books assigned to me by my teachers and recommended by my mentors and friends. There was no time to look back at books I had already read since there was still a mountain of reading before me.

I came across Bishop Morneau's article at a time in my late 20's when the steam of youthful enthusiasm had begun to wane just a bit. I took his advice and re-read a novel that a dear friend had recommended to me called Justine by Lawrence Durell (rhymes with squirrel). Justine is one of four novels called the “Alexandria Quartet” written just after WWII. Re-reading Justine was one of the most pleasurable reading experiences of my life. It spurred me to read the rest of the series and a biography of Durrell as well. For a while I was an insufferable Durrell evangelist, cajoling all of my friends to read the Quartet (though none of them made it past the first edition).

Morneau's life-changing advice has been on my mind lately because I am currently re-reading a marvelous book that also deserves a wider audience. It is called And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation by Fr. Robert Barron of Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago. I promise to blog more on the merits of this book later, but for now I encourage everyone who can't decide what to read next to go back and pick up a favorite for another dance.  And do let us know your story about a re-reading experience.

Copyright © 2008 John Tintera.