Not Beowulf

Prompt: Second Time Around
Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?


As teenage students, we sometimes have an innate hostility towards anything our teachers deem worthy of our time. My god, Beowulf, really? Painfully slow and dry readings of Julius Caesar, day after day? Seriously? For the sins of excruciatingly boring hours of class time that I can never get back, I RESIST any of your efforts to educate my literary self.

So the first book, year one of university literature class, was Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier. Have you read it? It is a modern gothic romantic tale, with atmosphere, menace, suspense, darkness, murder, and mystery. It’s fun to read when you don’t know the “twist”, and fun when you do. I read the book, did the course work, and read it again a year later. And again after that. I read the same paperback book maybe a dozen times or more, so that I knew where on the page certain memorable passages lay. And when I started writing seriously, Ms DuMaurier offered up, in Rebecca, a wealth of ideas about structure, vocabulary, imagery, character development, plot, and all things authorly.

Perfect book? No. The best I’ve ever read? No. But I would read it again, if I had that same paperback. I tried reading a newer edition, but it wasn’t laid out the same and felt different. The words were on the wrong pages. It was jarring.