THE SEASON OF RE-
Along about Thanksgiving, when the weather starts nudging me to stay in and make hot drinks, work on knitting projects for gift-giving, and enjoy an autumn well-spent raking leaves, trimming back bushes, and putting away yard tools--along about the end of November I find myself scanning bookshelves for old favorites to re-read.
My first choices often are the mystery series I've collected over the years--say, oh, about fifty years--Rex Stout's corporeal detective Nero Wolfe and the dashing man-about-town assistant Archie Goodwin; Harold Adams' Great Depression novels starring Carl Wilcox; Agatha Christie's inquisitive Miss Jane Marple; Josephine Tey's much-too-short list of eight mysteries; the police procedurals of W. J. Burley, set in Cornwall; R. D. Wingfield's Inspector Frost books; Stephanie Plum mysteries, dreamed up by the agile brain of Janet Evanovich.
Other re-reads include what is now called women's fiction by Rosamund Pilcher, who always makes me smile; Liz Flaherty's novels that make me wish I could write what reads so well (fortunately she's a good friend, so we can talk about writing at the drop of an email); romances by Betty Neels, an Englishwoman who lived for a number of years in The Netherlands, and by Caroline Anderson who has a way with hot medical romances.
All these fiction choices have one thing in common--they are about characters I could call friends, if they existed in my current reality; or about a time or place I'd love to visit, if time travel and teleportation were possible.
Nonfiction faves are the journals of May Sarton and Henri Nouwen, Frederich Buechner and C. S. Lewis; books about quilting, knitting, crochet, cooking. These give me insights into other people's lives, and again I feel as if I visit with them. They don't see me nodding my head in agreement, smiling in joy at a new insight, or frowning when they say something I take exception to. The craft books show me how other people think, how they work out ways to make pretty--or delicious--things I might like to try.
When I've been through all my books, I scan the DVDs--old TV series like M*A*S*H and The Andy Griffith Show--newer series like Foyle's War and Inspector Lewis--movies: all the Miss Marple stories; White Christmas, The Christmas Card, Far from Home, Second-Hand Lions, even Grumpy Old Men. Fortunately the dog, Joy, likes movies, too, so I can play them to keep her company when I have to leave for shopping or church.
You can see my tastes run to British lit and film, with only a handful of US examples. That's probably because I've lived in the US all my life, traveled very little, and find some writers and filmmakers talented enough to urge me into their worlds for a little while. Whenever I need a vacation, I can read about Burley's Chief Superintendent Charles Wycliffe in Cornwall, or follow along with DCI Foyle in World War II England as he unravels home front crime.
I know the rebuttal to re-reading and re-watching: so I will say, yes, I do indeed watch new shows and search the library for new writers. It all depends on what's occupying my mind--when I'm involved in detailed projects, making gifts for Christmas or preparing music for church services, I can't expend mental energy on a new book or movie.
After the holiday energy drain, I'm ready to sit down with a cup of hot tea and a new book--or a new movie--or even a new magazine. The well is ready to be filled once again. Makes me look forward to being snowed in come January.