Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rereading Books

When I was a kid there were a few books that I would read, reach the end of the book, and immediately flip back to the beginning and start reading again. I don’t remember the name of the book, but there was one such book Mom gave me for Valentine’s day. It was about a kid who was on a trip with his uncle. His uncle was some kind of spy. You know, the James Bond type spy, not The Spy Who Came in From the Cold type spy. Anyway, there were these guys after them and his Uncle had this special kind of watch with a type of keypad on it. At the time, that was amazing stuff. These days, that is old technology. But I remember reading that book, being disappointed because I had reached the end of it, then turning to the beginning to read it again. What I wonder is why I don’t do that as an adult.

Part of it is that adult books are longer. That book was probably a hundred pages long, if that long and the text was probably slightly larger than most adult books, so it wouldn’t have taken me long to read it. Then there’s the fact that I have a lot more money than I did at that age. Today, if I finish one book, I can just go buy a new one. As a child, I only got books as gifts or by ordering them from Troll Book Clubs at school. Occasionally, we would make a trip to Marble Hill, where the Bollinger County library is.

Also, children’s brains work differently than the brains of adults. All my life I’ve heard adults say that they can’t learn Bible verses like children can. I got the idea that children could remember things better. But after working in Awana for several years, I find that it is easier for me to memorize a verse than it is for the children I’m working with. I can read the verse a couple of times and know it well enough to correct them as they are trying to say it, but the children may spend thirty minutes trying to learn one verse. I wonder if that also impacts how we read. Children are in the world of the book for as long as they are reading it. Adults are able to remember more of the book and stay in that world long after they’ve finished the book.

Let’s not forget that adults are more critical than children. Children tend to think that if a respected adult, such as an author, says it is so, then it must be so. Whatever mistakes the author and the editors may have made, children accept it and move on. They may not catch the mistakes. But adults will pick at what the author says. It is much easier to injure an adult’s suspension of disbelief than it is a child’s. It is also easier to bore and adult.

I don’t suppose it is any one thing that does it, but all of these things add up to a situation in which an adult is unlikely to reread a book in a short period of time. Given the right circumstances, it is possible, but it is much more unlikely with adults than children.