A while ago I came to the conclusion that if I felt the need to re-read a book, then, by gosh, I would. I’m sick of the mindset that colors re-reading as useless. It’s a constant weight that forces me ever-forward: keep abreast of the industry, look at all the new books out I haven’t read, look at all the classics I haven’t read! But I’m training myself into shrugging off that weight in order to let myself (re)read what I want. If I want to re-read a book I read in elementary school, then I’m going to fricking do it.
That said, I’m re-reading The Secret Garden at the moment! I’ve been feeling the urge to do so for a few weeks, and finally checked out a lovely illustrated version at the library. As a child, I found the book immersive–in fact, I still think that no scene has every drawn me in so strongly as Mary Lennox running against the wind in the moor, full of joie de vivre. It’s reassuring to know that the effect has not been lost over the years: the book is still as evocative as the first day I read it. That’s always a risk with childhood books, that they will disappoint you in not feeling the same.
That said, I could do without the racism. There’s about two dozen too many references to the Indian “natives” and white superiority. Before I re-read it I thought I might recommend it to my little sister, but now I’m unsure. Even if she doesn’t understand the not-so-subtle ugliness, it will linger somewhere. If I do give it to her, it will be with a serious conversation about the issue. It’s really making me wonder how much of those ideas I absorbed as a child from books like this.
All that said, I am thoroughly enjoying the book, and the wild moors and broad Yorkshire accents remain beautifully formative influences on me. it’s refreshing to re-acquaint myself with the story, and refreshing to let myself, instead of forging on to the next new thing.