Books 17 May 2007 08:52 pm

Lost forever

A good book stands the test of time, so the saying goes. But how many times can one read the same good — or even great — book?

 It’s a question with special resonance for English teachers, who often face beloved titles annually. How often can one stare down even great writers like Hawthorne, Twain or (dare I suggest it?) Shakespeare before facing a head-slapping, shoulda-had-a-V8 moment?

This year, as I have in past years, my freshman classes are reading Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” a compelling novel about a nine-year-old lost in the Maine woods and the perils that befall her there. While nobody would confuse King with the three luminaries listed above, I have always loved his work and find that this particular novel resonates with kids. Plus, there is a slight chance that they will seek out other King works like “The Dead Zone,” “Cujo,” or “The Green Mile,” something that seldom happens with the list of dead literati.

But with four classes reading the book simultaneously, alternating between independent reading, reading in groups, or listening on CD, and with this being — what? — the fourth year I have taught the novel, my grand tally of trips to the woods with King as amiable guide is somewhere in the vicinity of sixteen.

In my mind, this girl who loved Tom Gordon has been missing a long time. And while each time I find something new on which to focus — King really does explore some wonderful issues of faith and priorities (and finds nifty ways  to tie them into that great American pastime, baseball) that are fun to chat about with kids — I also am developing a certain fatigue with the novel, which makes me wonder if I’m not due to rescue this kid one last time and move onto a new book next year.

And this from a guy who often reads books twice and loves to watch movies he has already seen.

What titles do you find reward encore readings? Let me know and I’ll post them here.

One Response to “Lost forever”

  1. on 08 Jun 2007 at 1.Ron said …

    I find Ray Bradbury is worth re-reading, in partular “Fahrenheit 451″. I’ve read it 3 times ” once as a teenager, once in my 30s, and again 2 years ago. The last time I read it, I was a high school teacher, and found the descriptions of the teenagers in the story chillingly similar to the plight of many teens in today’s media-driven, iPod society, including drug use, extreme sports, and video games. . . in a book written in 1951.

    Other Bradbury short stories to look at twice are “The Garbage Collector”, “The Highway” and “And the Rock Cried out.” Read these, and then think about President Bush’s post-9-11 America. . .

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