Monday, May 5, 2014

The Library of Rereads

So I have written a bit here about rereading, about going over books that I read when I was young and loved and what I think of them now. It's a fun thing to do (and I'm still doing some of that rereading, just being lazy and not much writing about it) and the library has been a great help. Because I'm not really working, just writing, which pays very irregularly, so I like getting books for free.

I keep discovering all sorts of books that I'd mostly forgotten. Recently I got both the first two books of The King of Ys by Poul and Karen Anderson and The Ealdwood by C. J. Cherryh, both books I first encountered decades ago while I was subscribed to the Science Fiction Book Club (which still exists somehow, a fact I cannot quit be stunned by). I quite liked both series when I was young, and I read them each more than once. I think I enjoyed the kind of naughty, lusty historicality of Ys, and the dreamy mythical oddness of Ealdwood, though of course I can't remember clearly my responses to them, and couldn't even recall the books' plots fully. Just bits and pieces, as one would expect of non-touchstone books read 30 odd years back.

I didn't manage to finish either of them. Or get more than fifty pages in. It's not that they weren't still pretty good; they were, I suppose. It's that I just didn't care enough to push through. The library borrowing did it for me; I have so many books I'm getting from there that spending a lot of time and effort on any given free volume that isn't really grabbing me just isn't worth it. So I'm getting books that I'm reading every word of (Glen Cook's Garrett P. I. books, for instance, which are still delightful and funny and dark and which I'm working my way through) and books that I'm sending back the day after I get them. I know that if I'd spent money on Anderson or Cherryh I'd have done more work to get through them, but since I didn't, I couldn't be bothered.

I had always, in a vague sort of way, been aware of this equation: that what you pay money for you will do more to get value out of, even if there really isn't much value at all. But getting my books from the library has made it very clear to me how that really functions, in my life at least. I will make myself suffer to try to pull something out a book I don't much like, just because I spent eight bucks on it; but a book I kind of enjoy--only kind of--I won't even keep reading past the first hour, because I've got nothing invested. Makes me think I should charge people 5 bucks to read my rough drafts, because they'd get to it quicker and with more feeling. It could just be a deposit, and I'd refund it after they were done, but I think I'd get more feedback that way.

Anyway. I have some Raymond Feist on my pile from the library right now and I know I loved his stuff when I was kid; also some Steven Brust, which I greatly enjoyed; let's see if that's still the case when I get to them in a few days. I'm going to hope so; I'm looking much forward to them both. But who can say, right?

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