I’ve been thinking lately about what it is that makes someone re-read a book.
Someone who picks up a book and reads the first paragraph and is hooked to keep reading is looking for a different experience to the person who knows what’s going to happen yet still picks up the book and delights in the page turning, again.
Should we write then with the goal of the story being so rich in language and experience that a person will crave to ‘live’ it more than once?
In his essay On Stories, C.S. Lewis said, ‘The re-reader is looking not for actual surprises (which can come only once) but for a certain surprisingness … The children understand this well when they ask for the same story over and over again, and in the same words. They want to have again the “surprise” of discovering that what seemed [to be] Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother is really the wolf. It is better when you know it is coming: free from the shock of the actual surprise you can attend better to the intrinsic surprisingness of the peripeteia.’