A friend said she hates getting to the end of a good book because she likes the world it creates and doesn't want the feeling to end.
"So read it again," I said. And why not?
I read many books again. When I finished "A Fool's Progress" by Edward Abbey, I was so captivated by the bittersweet world Ed had built that I turned the book over and started again.
A good book is like a lovely picture. Just as you don't look at a picture once and say "that's that," you shouldn't read a good book and toss it.
"What about murder mysteries?" I hear you ask.
I've read "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Agatha Christie twice and still think she pulled her classic fast one in a very neat fashion.
I read "At Bertram's Hotel" every couple of years because it is such a brilliant atmospheric set piece. If I tell you the daughter did it, trust me, you will still enjoy the book.
Recently The Queen Bee, a lovely new book/toy/candy store on Ogden's Historic 25th Street, asked me for a list of my favorite books as part of my wife and me being special guests for the grand opening.
Their thinking is, if they sell other people's favorite stuff (yo-yos!), they'll sell more things that are fun because people like me weed out the clunkers. This should work well until they run into a Proust fan. On the other hand, they already carry Ayn Rand, whose tomes intimidate me.
Good literature creates fantasies and mysteries that only grow in delight with rereading. My list was long and could have gone longer. "Moby Dick," "The Martian Chronicles" ... when I need escape, or contemplation, or just good history, I have several thousand titles to fit any mood clogging the basement.
Consider "Alice in Wonderland," of which I have numerous copies, including two annotated editions.
My father read "Alice" to me often. He'd sit in his easy chair and recite "Jabberwocky" or "You are old Father William" with such joy that I made sure to read "Alice" to my sons, and gave them copies.
Which is why my younger son and his wife named my first granddaughter Alice.
"The Wind in the Willows," by Kenneth Grahame, goes so much farther than Disney's cartoon about Mr. Toad and his motor car (Poop! Poop!). The book is about paths chosen and not chosen, such as when River Rat meets that seafaring rat and finds himself hypnotized by the idea of running away.
As this is Holy Week for Western religions, I am pondering "The Master and Margarita," by Mikhail Bulgakov, for about the 10th time.
This is not a religious book. It involves the Stalinist terror in 1930s Russia, a comic Satan's ball, tragic romance and lots of naked witches. Everything ties together around the most plausible telling of the crucifixion of Christ I've ever seen.
In Catholic school, I was taught Pontius Pilate was the bad guy because he ordered the crucifixion.
In this book he's a tortured soul, trapped by circumstances. He is anguished, he debates and even tries to save this itinerant preacher who speaks only of peace. Pilate commits the ultimate sin of cowardice, tries to compensate by killing Judas and spends eternity paying.
Even Satan is a sympathetic character, and with Satan as intermediary, Pilate finds redemption and is reunited with Christ.
Different? Yes, but compelling. And it's right there in my book, just waiting for me to open the cover again.
Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can call him at 801-625-4232 or email him at email@example.com. He also blogs at www.standard.net.