Throughout my childhood and well into my adult years I loved the thrill of revisiting a favourite book. Like visiting an old friend, the conversation with a favourite book is comfortable, yet frequently surprising. But these past few years – maybe even as long as ten years – rereading has been a rare thing for me. Since I started Aussiereviews, I always have a steady supply of new books (more than I can possibly read, at times), and my various dayjobs, family and writing commitments have swallowed up a lot of time, as such things are wont to do.
This past week, though, I’ve immersed myself in rereading. Having been accepted into the PhD program at ECU, where my focus will be children’s poetry, including verse novels, I decided to start my reading by reconnecting with old favourites. And what a joy that has been.
The first verse novel I ever read was Margaret Wild’s Jinx. In fact it was such a new form for me that I had no idea how to describe it when I reviewed it in 2002. I just knew that I loved it, and almost instantly knew that this was a form I wanted to write in, as well. So, the first two verse novels I reread were Jinx, and Wild’s second verse novel, One Night. I hadn’t read either of these for some years , though I often recommend them to other readers. Interestingly, as I reread I was surprised anew by them. I’d actually forgotten what happens, even who the characters were. What I’d retained was the sense of satisfaction. I don’t remember crying when I read them the first time, but reading One Night this time round had me weeping at the kitchen table, much to the bemusement of my family.
From these two I’ve gone on to revisit other favourites – by Steven Herrick, Sharon Creech and Nikki Grimes. Still to come are more Herrick , Lorraine Marwood, Sherryl Clark and more. While perhaps I’m reading these with different eyes – as a researcher and also as one who has since written verse novels – it’s also proving a lovely trip into my reading past, and is inspiring me to look back at other favourites which perhaps deserve a revisit. At the same time, I’m learning stuff. I love seeing how other authors make use of the form, and have been inspired to try a few new things in my own writing.
What a luxurious way to start my new studies. It feels like an indulgence even while it’s paying such lovely dividends for my research and writing.