Thursday, July 12, 2012

imprints & illusions (warning: 99% book talk, 1% clothing)

"It was perhaps a mistake, she thought now that she could see herself whole and from a distance, to wear mint-green pants and an emerald-green shirt with a dark green jacket. Christina had looked at her oddly, and Christina always looked not only tidy but appealing, so her opinion on dress was worth considering. Always granting, of course, that the opinion on any subject was worth considering of somebody who had made three earnest efforts to read A Wrinkle in Time and pronounced it 'silly.'"
    -- Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

       Books remind me of life, life reminds me of books. I wore this outfit last month and the triple dose of green made me think of the above snippet from one of my favorite books. 
       Favorite, actually, is an understatement. I have read this book so many times that bits of it are likely imprinted in my brain. For a number of years (probably almost a decade) I read this novel at least 3 times a year. It was the book I would turn to when I was stressed out, when I was disheartened, when I needed something familiar. Familiar, yet at the same time, new and strange. One of the pleasures of rereading is approaching a book from different angles and different characters' eyes, or noticing some tiny yet telling detail that perhaps escaped my attention in the first 500 readings. 
     Rereading is like tracing the rings in a tree trunk to read its years and experiences -- when I go back to a book that I first read many years ago, I touch the subtle ways in which I've grown and changed since the last reading. 
The cracks and creases of a well-loved paperback begin to tell their own story

     While I have read quite a few books, and enjoyed many, there are a select few that I turn to again and again. Somehow, I feel that if someone read these books with care and thought, they would understand something essential about me. This is no doubt an illusion. But we all enjoy a good illusion sometimes, don't we? 
       Other perennial re-reads (in no particular  order): 
  • All the Names by Jose Saramago
  • Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
  • Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary by Pamela Dean
  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Winged Seed by Li-Young Lee

"That Night We Talked About Our Dreams" tee by Lim Heng Swee, Threadless
Eddie Bauer shorts, via Mom
Andrade silk tie, thrifted


  1. Oh man, Pamela Dean's The Dubious Hills was one of my perennial rereads until my copy vanished. I mourn its loss every day, but such a strong recommendation for other Dean books is some small consolation! Have you read The Secret Country Trilogy? For some reason it and I couldn't get along.

    Have you seen Italo Calvino's 14 Definitions of What Makes a Classic? It's meant to be more about Famous, Important Books than it is about Personal Favorites, but so much of it rings true for my best-loved books anyway. "The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying: 'I'm rereading…', never 'I'm reading'…. ...A classic is a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers."

  2. TAM LIN! TAM LIN! TAM LIN! ps. I like your tie belt, too.

  3. It amazes me that so many of our reading faves are similar! :)

  4. Hi, Rachel! Thanks for dropping by. Hmm, I think I read The Secret Country trilogy many years ago and was underwhelmed. I haven't heard of Calvino's 14 definitions before, but will definitely look it up! :)


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