Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
One of ol’ Robbo’s most fundamental virtues (or defects, depending upon your view) is his dyed-in-the-wool conservatism. By this I don’t necessarily mean anything politickal. Rayther, I mean to say that I love the tried and true, the time-honoured, the routine, the predictable. In this way, I suppose I am very hobbit-like. What was it Prof. Tolkien said of Bagginses? That one knew the answer they would give to a given question without bothering to ask it?
Anyhoo, I mention this because I have been wrestling again recently with this virtue/flaw in the context of my personal reading list.
You see, ol’ Robbo has a rayther substantial shelf of books which he loves to read over and over again. Were time not a factor, nor some of the authors on the list less, ah, worthy,¹ this would not be a problem. However, every time I start in yet again on a favorite author/book/series, a voice in the back of my head starts to nag that I really ought to be trying other undiscovered countries. Memento mori and all that.
I believe that said nag has a legitimate point. On the other hand, I can’t help admitting that I also get new insights every time I reread even the oldest of my stable.² (That’s the definition of a classic after all, isn’t it?)
What to do?
Is there a magic formula? One new book out of every three read, for example? Is there a temporal solution? Nothing but new books for a month or six weeks? I simply don’t know.
All this becomes acute because my membership in an FB Aubrey/Maturin appreciation group is tempting me to set sail again for yet another cruise through the canon, while my first viewing of the rayther lame “The Charge of the Light Brigade” last evening strongly tempts me to plunge yet again into the Flashman papers.
That’s thirty-three books between the two series, each of which I’ve read at least a dozen times. By my math, that’s 396 books. As I say, I gain more and more each time I reread them, but at the same time, that’s nearly 400 other books I also could digest.
As I say, what to do?
¹ These include Tom Clancy, Bernard Cornwell and Jeff Shaara, all of whom I consider to be creators of entertaining trash.
² The sole exception here is the Harvard Lampoon’s “Bored of the Ring“. It’s still tear-inducing funny, tho’.