The Case for Re-Reading

In which I make the case for re-reading…

Are you a re-reader? Some people are, and some people wonder how on earth there can be time to re-read the same books. I have personally been in both camps. There are some books that I want to re-read but just don’t find the time for. The classics I read in high-school, for example. I am certain that I would enjoy them more and gain more from them if I read them again now. However, when I sit down and think about what I’m going to read next, the list of classics that I still wish to read could pave a path to the moon.

Then there are books that I can’t lay aside forever, because it would be like abandoning an old friend. Harry Potter, Hermione, and Ron. Anne and Gilbert and Diana. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Shasta and Aravis.
You see, I don’t think books remain stagnant. As we grow and change, the books grow with us, reaching different parts of our understanding with each re-reading, and touching our hearts in different ways. Simply, you notice different characters as an adult, and empathize more deeply with them. In a way, they become more and more real.

Mrs. Weasley

If you know me, you probably know this about me, but I am a huge Harry Potter nerd. As in, I have re-read the series at least once every year since I first started to read them sometime in my mid-teens. I truly get more out of them every time I re-read them. Different scenes make me teary, different remarks strike me, and the character building never fails to impress. But one of the best surprises of re-reading is discovering the amazing qualities of a character that previously seemed to be little more than background noise. I will never forget the first time I re-read Harry Potter after I became a mother, and every time since. Mrs. Weasley moved to the frontline of the story for me. Everything she does, from taking care of her family and taking Harry under her wing, to the ultimate moment when she steps into battle wielding the fury only a mother defending can have… every scene just clicks now. I recognize that! I know how she feels.

Anne Shirley

Anne has been another of my long-time friends. I’ve reread the series (some books more than others) countless times, delighting in different things each time. I grew up with her. I’ve read the books as a teenager, as a newlywed, and as a mother. Most recently, I re-read “Anne’s House of Dreams”. In it, she gives birth to a baby who dies after her first hour of life. I have read that chapter 20 times, but it wasn’t until re-reading it this last time, in the wake of my own miscarriage, that I felt the depth of that chapter and the poignancy of the rest of the book as Anne adjusts to an altered future from the one she imagined. Each grief-riddled sentiment settled right into my own thoughts; before, they had been passing fancies that I experienced in the space of an afternoon and quickly forgot. I never understood how deeply that experience changed Anne through the rest of the book. Now I do. I recognize that. I know how she feels.

I’m not saying that every book should be re-read, but I’m making the case for the stories that have lingered with you through the years. Read them again. Let the characters speak to you in new ways. The main joy of reading is getting to know these other lives, true or imagined. If you get to know them for the space of a book, and love them, give them a chance to return as old friends.

So… do you reread? Who are your fictional besties that you meet up with once a year or so just for coffee and a chat?

We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness.”
― C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature


This Is Your Real Life

This is your real life.

Right here, right now, this is your real life.

Whether you feel happy or sad, purposeful or unfulfilled, content or covetous; this moment is your real life. The children might be swinging from the rafters, or you might be settling down after the bedtime rituals. This is your real life. The dirty dishes. Mount Laundry. The crisp night air. The musty scent of changing seasons. All happening now. All your real life.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across a quote by C. S. Lewis, at the moment I most needed it. You might have noticed it up on the blog header, or not. But it made such an impact on me that I’ve been mulling it over for weeks. I’m sure it’s relevant to most of us, but it stopped me in my tracks that first day I read it.

Here’s the thing: I imagine I can control things.

It is one of my great weaknesses. I like to know what is happening, and when. Each day, I plan out everything I would like to accomplish, and make note of all the things that must be done. I like to have routines that run like clockwork. But they don’t always. Because I am human, and everybody around me is human. It wouldn’t be an issue, either, if it were not for my heart’s murmurings and discontent when things don’t go my way. I found myself in a cycle of disappointment when things went awry in our day. In my mind, I had an idea of what our perfect days would look like. When our days failed to meet my standards, I felt that somehow our “real life” was being bogged down by these monotonous interruptions.

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

Could I really think that God Almighty, who ordered my footsteps and called me by name, was thwarted in his purpose for my life by what I considered interruptions in my messy days? Of course not! I felt (feel) quite foolish, to think how bothered I can be by the little “interruptions” to “my time”. It is not my time at all. It is God’s time.

This is the Day, which the Lord hath made.

Today is the day he has given me. This day, in this house, with these children and my man. I will do what needs to be done. When it happens that the next thing just wasn’t on my list for the day, I will remember that this is the moment that was meant to be–not that figment of my imagination and Pinterest. For this is the day. This is my real life.



When Summer Comes ~ A Short Story


When Summer Comes: A Short Story

By Elizabeth Peterson

(c) February 2017 All Rights Reserved.

Summer was Lila’s favorite time of the year. It was light in the morning, no matter how early she woke to race out into the early morning air. Dew drops and grass clippings stuck to her feet as she ran until the dandelion yellow sun rose high in the sky and the dew lifted. When it was too hot to run any more, it was time to jump in the pool. There were juicy red watermelon slices and cold glasses of lemonade to snack on between rounds of swimming and splashing.

By the time dinner was over and the last drop of ice cream licked from her fingers, it wasn’t such an awful thing to be sent off to the bathtub. She didn’t complain too much when Mommy pulled the fresh cotton nightie over her head, and by the time she was snugly tucked between crisp sheets, she could barely hold her eyes open long enough to ask all the important questions.
“May I have another drink of water?”
“How about berries for breakfast tomorrow?”
“Can I just wear my swimsuit all day tomorrow? It sticks when I’m hot.”
Lila fell asleep every night marveling over the wonderful treats of summer.

Then, so gradually that she almost didn’t know it was happening, summer changed into fall. First the morning dew felt cold on her toes. Then one day, it wasn’t warm enough to get into the pool. After enough of those cool days, the WORST thing happened—the pool was covered up with a great, billowing gray cover.

Lila watched in horror as the cover settled over it and her Daddy began tying the edges down.
“But I want to swim!”
“It’s too cold now. You would be frozen like a popsicle!” Daddy was smiling, but Lila did not smile. This was the saddest day she could remember.
“But,” Daddy said, almost as if he could see the tears Lila felt piling up behind her eyeballs. “After fall, and winter, and spring, summer will come again. Then we will swim and play in the sun some more.”
“Summer will come again?” Lila asked, needing to make certain.
“After Winter.” Daddy promised.
A single brown leaf floated down and settled onto the tarp as Daddy fastened the last corner to the pool and beckoned for Lila to come inside. She looked over her shoulder at the gloomy gray pool cover and whispered to the pool.
“Summer will come.”

There were fun things to do in autumn. There were leaf piles and pumpkin patches and huge roaring bonfires. Lila roasted marshmallows and ate s’mores until her cheeks were stuffed like the little brown squirrel that collected acorns under the oak tree.
But even with her cheeks stuffed full of chewy, gooey marshmallows, Lila looked longingly at the pool.
“Is it summer yet, Mommy?” She asked.
“Not yet,” Mommy said, and put a hat onto Lila’s head with a smile.
“Oh no…” Lila sniffed and thought she might cry, but there was another marshmallow to roast. She decided she could probably wait one more day for summer to come back.

But the next morning when she slid out of bed, the floor was cold under her toes and she had to hop quickly from one foot to the other while she looked for her fluffiest pink slippers.
That wasn’t even the worst of it. It grew colder, and colder, and colder every single day!

One day early in December she cautiously asked Mommy if it was possible summer might come back soon.
“Not yet.” Mommy said. “But today we’ll set up our Christmas tree.”
Lila squealed and danced around the living room with delight. If Christmas was coming soon, she could wait a little longer for summer.

Christmas-time was so wonderful that Lila almost didn’t think about summer at all. Between the candy-canes and hot cocoa, and singing Christmas songs in the golden glow of Christmas tree lights, she even began to think that if it could just be Christmas always, she wouldn’t worry so much about summer.

But then one day, Daddy and Mommy started taking the lights down and boxing up Christmas decorations.
“Why are you killing Christmas?” She wailed.
“It wouldn’t be as fun to have Christmas if it was Christmas all year long!” Daddy said.
She frowned.
“We’ll have Christmas again next year, Lila. But first are birthdays and spring, and summer, and autumn…” Mommy kept talking but Lila had stopped listening.
Summer! It must be nearly back by now. She went to the window to check, but it was still cold and gray outside.

The days kept passing, each day newly cold and dreary.
Every morning Lila pressed her nose up against the window and asked, “Is it summer yet?”
Every morning Mommy shook her head no.
The wonderful soft grass she loved had turned into a prickly ice wasteland. The fresh warm breeze had become cold and snappish. Lila bundled up in her warmest coat, hat and gloves, and stepped outside. Her nose turned red and her eyes watered as she asked again.
“Is it summer yet?”
“Not yet, sweet girl.”
“UGGGGGGGGGH!” Lila groaned the loudest groan of all.

It was a black and gloomy time.
What if summer wasn’t coming back at all?
What if Lila was doomed to a lifetime of cold toes and watery eyes?
What if the pool cover could never come off again?
After days of asking when summer would come back, Lila finally gave up hope.

Then, one morning, something felt different. Lila could hear the twittering of a bird outside. Golden sunlight peeked through her window blinds. She tip-toed down the stairs and stood in front of the great front door, hardly able to breathe for wondering.
As the door creaked open, a warm breeze ruffled her nightgown.

Lila knew then. She didn’t have to ask again.
Dewdrops and cut grass stuck on her feet as she raced outside and jumped into the bright splotch of sunlight on the lawn.
“Summer came back!”
Summer was Lila’s favorite time of year.