Some people read simply to read. Long afterwards they may remember the ‘gist’ of the story and whether they found the book satisfying, but most often they simply remember whether they either liked it or not.
For myself. reading and writing are, like surgery, both audible and visual experiences. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love unabridged audio recordings of my favourite books. If I could close my eyes and still write, I would.
Ingrained as a habit from years of dictating post surgical reports, I often make extensive use of my dictation recorder and the audio capture utilities on my computer when I’m writing so I can return and ‘see’ what I’ve created… to find the one dimensional character(s) I’ve overlooked or the scene that has no ‘visual’ representation or the road that dead-ends on the edge of the page instead of going somewhere.
So… what brings me back to re-read books I’ve already read?
It’s a total sum of the piece, but after years of trying to understand what is I am subconsciously drawn to, I’ve decided there is an order to it.
First for me are the worlds that the writers have created; Some worlds are more interesting than others, but having visited them I often find I want to explore them again to see what I missed or to find out what was over the next hill or back the other way around the bend or to try and discover what life in that other part of that worlds map is like.
Worlds have sounds, or at least they should have. The more descriptive and interesting a world is, the easier is is to hear the sounds of the wind in the trees, the water rushing over and around rocks in streams and rivers, or waves crashing on the shores, the ‘sound’ of the cities and villages, and the voices of the people who live and work or meet there.
… and their music.
Next are the characters. Some more than others draw me back due to their personalities, their unique little quirks of behaviour or their unique ‘voices’.
Sometimes I find people I know or even characters I’ve created for my own work… and sometimes I find that the ‘person’ I thought a character was during the first read is not the same the second time around.
After that it is the interaction of the characters with others. I am no longer surprised that quite often it is the ‘bit players’ who are just as (and sometimes even more) interesting than some of the main characters.
Not quite last, and certainly not least, are the plots and story lines… and quite often the stories that one can find occurring within the over-all story. Sometimes, those story’s within are the reason to return… to explore them further.
If an author has used the same characters in more the one story or in more than one book, the more complex the composite ‘memory’ of that world and it’s people is, the more interesting it is to me, and therefore the more likely I will go back to visit them.
I suppose the same can be said for the movies I’ve collected so that I can watch them on a whim.