Last week, we looked at some of the of the ways you can reignite you love of reading. One of the methods we suggested was to revisit some of your old favourite books. It’s a seemingly simple solution, but it’s not as regular a practice as you might think.
Today, we live in a world of instant media, which certainly has its benefits, but it has maybe caused us to drift away from the joys of reading. To be clear, I don’t mean to speak for everyone as I’m sure some of you remain avid readers. But it’s true that many people don’t make the time for reading anymore, let alone revisit something they’ve already read – and that’s a shame.
Honestly, re-reading old favourites is a great way to remind yourself how fun reading can be — but it’s so much more than even that. Returning to something you love can tell you a lot about yourself. It can bring back old memories, it can remind you of your interests at a certain period of time, and it can show how you’ve grown over the years. It might not always seem it, but books play a significant role in our lives, which is why revisiting our favourite books is a conversation worth having – allow me to get the ball rolling.
I’ll confess, much to my surprise, when I asked myself the question “what is your favourite book?” an answer did not immediately come to mind. It’s not something I’ve given much thought to over the years, so I didn’t have an answer ready. But even then, after some reflection the answer became quite obvious.
While there are a great many books I’ve liked and admired over the years, it’s an exclusive club of books that left such a lasting memory that I revisit them again and again. I remember reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the first time and being blown away by the complexity of a story I had thought I knew. I was similarly engrossed and disturbed by the brilliance of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, a book that shows me something new each time I go back to it. And of course, anything by the great Elmore Leonard is a sure-fire winner for me. But there is one book I’ve returned to more times than I can count, never tiring of it, never changing my opinion of it and always just enjoying the time I spend with it. The book is George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
The book is a simple crime story told in such an expert way. Like Elmore Leonard’s greatest books, this gem explores the criminal side of law and order, bringing humanity to the crooks we rarely ever see. It’s a story of the blue-collar aspects of crime, taking away all the glamour and showing crooks who are just trying to make a living (albeit a dishonest one). The story follows a low-level criminal on the verge of a long prison sentence, desperately looking for a way out while trying to live by the outlaw code.
Why do I love this book so much? It’s hard to narrow down. I’ve always loved these kinds of stories. It’s not flashy or big in scale, but it’s a definite page-turner. There’s a tension to the story that is palpable. The grounded approach to the subject matter makes it all the more intriguing, like you’re eavesdropping into a world you don’t know but one that seems wholly authentic. Despite not being a comedy, there’s a biting humour in how it presents the working-class aspects of this world. The dialogue is pitch-perfect, never sounding forced. The whole thing doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it. No part of it lags, nothing seems unnecessary. The book not only gave me a new love of reading, but inspired me as a writer as well. When I read this book it feels like I’m revisiting an old home. In fact, just talking about it makes me want to jump back into those pages.
So, now it’s your turn. Tell us about your favourite book and what it means to you What piece of literature have you gone back to more than any other? Share your stories with us!