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Sometimes it’s not the books that change, though, it’s you. If I’m the same sort of person I was five years ago, then I’m failing utterly at being alive. (Mark Twain said it best: “Consistency requires me to be as ignorant today as I was yesterday.”) Between one re-read and another, I’ve grown and lived…but I’ve also expanded my vocabulary and read countless other books, seen films, listened to music, had new thoughts, and done new writing myself. All of that is there, lurking just offstage, when I step back into a book for a revisit, and all of it changes how I view that book.
Words are so fleeting – the best conversation or most heated argument you ever had is already just a memory – but a book? It’s like a locket or a lock box. I reread what I’ve chicken-scratched into in the margins of my favorite books and it’s a remembrance of things past.