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I have the good fortune to facilitate a monthly book discussion at a local library. The format consists of five titles related to a particular topic. The current topic Destruction and Redemption include the titles:
Emma Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
Morgan’s Passing by Anne Tyler
As a literature major, it is not the first time I have encountered these titles. And, I admit that I was not thrilled at the prospect of rereading some of them. I’m glad I did. It has made me a more careful writer and attuned to the idea that stories have seasons as does our life.
What have I learned? Readers and writers approach stories in the same way. What way? We come to the page based on the life parameters we have experienced at the point of writing or reading a book. A book that bored us twenty might be insightful or moving a decade later.
The experience is reminiscent of the following Mark Twain quote:
Sometimes you surprise yourself with what you have learned. The certainty of a first experience becomes tainted or enhanced by experience. It does not remain static. You might have a pleasant surprise if you revisit a book you previously disliked. Sad to say you may reread a title that you loved and find it no longer moves you. Regardless keep reading.