A Sequel With No Equal

Today’s post comes from perennial Sophomore Bubby Spamden, still in the 10th grade at Wendell Willkie High School after 30 years.

Hi Mr. C.,

Well,  my world got totally rocked yesterday when the news came out that Harper Lee’s second book is about to be published.

I’ve been a high school sophomore for about a third of Ms. Lee’s (age 88) life, so I’ve had plenty of chances to read her first book, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

And by “plenty of chances”, I mean I’ve been forced to read it every October since 1985. And no, the teachers and principals who insist on keeping me back year after year after year are NOT about to cut me any slack when it comes to the reading assignments.

Or the enrichment activities.

I’ve done “To Kill A Mockingbird” storyboards to “demonstrate and extend” my learning. I’ve listed vocabulary words from the book, drawn plot diagrams and character maps, and discussed themes, symbols, and motifs.

I’ve even written a paper discussing “To Kill A Mockingbird” as an archetype of the hero’s journey, and I still don’t know what an archetype is.

There have been thousands of quizzes and hundreds of role-playing exercises. I’ve been Scout, Boo and the angry mob. And I’ve written my own version of Atticus Finch’s closing argument. Seven times.

I hope Ms. Lee knows what a gift this second book will be to 10th graders everywhere, if only because I’m flat-out exhausted with her first one.

I saw Mr. Boozenporn standing outside his room and I told him that if I’m held back again (which I will be), I’m really looking forward to reading “Go Set a Watchman” in his class next Fall, and he just laughed.

“In your spare time, maybe,” is what he said. So I asked him why.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because there are already a gazillion lesson plans built around ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.  Or maybe because the school has a whole room in the basement just devoted to storing copies of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.  Or it might be that your teacher has led a unit on “To Kill a Mockingbird” for forty years and is too old and tired to  do anything about ‘Go Set a Watchman’.”

Then he shrunk back into his room real suspicious-like.   I think he eats raw squirrels in there.

Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby I will never understand how he can be so stuck in the 10th grade, especially now that I know he has read “To Kill a Mockingbird” every Fall for the last 30 years. Doing that alone would be enough to graduate, I’d think, if only for the repeated transfer of wisdom. But I’m no expert when it comes to education. Perhaps he doesn’t test well.

What are some of the books you’ve re-read, and why?

64 thoughts on “A Sequel With No Equal”

  1. Green Eggs and Ham because I have dozens of little relatives.
    King Solomon’s Mines satisfies the adventure person in me.
    The Bible because there is always something new in there I missed the 60th time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Does the Bible count as rereading? I once read it through from cover to cover, a poor way to read it. Then once read it through on a yearly reading plan my daughter gave her church members and then built her sermons on it, as did I the five times I filled in for her that year. In that plan you read a Psalm or Proverbs every day with an OT and NT passage. I have a version of the Bible I was given that has the Bible in Chronological order, which is interesting. But I could not read it all again that way either. Refuse to read the many descriptions of the tabernacle. One of the things about chronological order is that it shows you the Bible’s contradictions, like who killed Goliath and how.

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  2. Good morning. I don’t re-read books. There are lots of books I would like to read that I haven’t read and I am not a fast reader. I never include any books that I have already read on the list of books I want to read. There are some sections of books I have read more than once including some of the chapters in Studs Terkel’s “Division Street”. I’ve done that when I want to do a little reading and I am not ready to start a new book.

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  3. Like Jim, I don’t re-read books much anymore, but as a kid and young adult I re-read CS Forester’s Hornblower series 5-10 times. Something about those stories struck a chord in me. Love of history, perennial interest in the Napoleonic Era, and rousing good adventure that transported me 200 years back to the past and 10,000 miles away from my landlocked hometown.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I reread a LOT. Fiction I reread because I want to re-experience the world the writer created, or the mood the book created in me. Nonfiction I usually reread in order to refresh my memory about certain arguments, or for inspiration to continue a change I’ve made in my own life. Just a tiny sample of the books I’ve reread: Lord of the Rings, Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Good Omens, Hogfather (the only Discworld books I’ve never reread are the Rhincewind ones, all the rest I’ve read at least 3 times), Triumph of the Moon, Bell Book and Murder (Wiccan mystery novel omnibus!), The Long Descent, The Druidry Handbook, and Vegan Freak. Oh, and all the Miss Marple books. Love me some Miss Marple, but only Joan Hickson ever got her right, IMNSHO.

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  5. I re-read books all the time, I suppose for the same reason I always read the end of mystery novels first. For some reason, perhaps associated with my profession, I have a hard time tolerating suspense and the unknown. Re-reading books provides comfort in an age of anxiety. I often re-read mystery novels, especially the Peter Wimsey books. Lord of the Rings is always good for a check in. I recently found myself re-reading the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander,beloved books from my childhood.

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  6. I re-read extensively. Books that take me into another place especially. Polar exploration, travel books, Tony Hillerman, great fiction, some scifi/fantasy. Mockingbird I taught several times, so read 6-8 times. Hick Finn I bet close to 30 times because I taught it do often and because I wrote a master thesis on it. Walden 5-6 times. I have read the first Harry Potter book 5-6 times for the joy of the narration, the whimsy, the feel of another world. All that disappeared after the third book, so have never read past the middle of the fourth.

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  7. Like others here, I am a serious re-reader. I try to do Rebecca West’s Cousin Rosamund trilogy around Christmas as there are several lovely Christmas narratives in those books. The writing is excellent and describes places I love to “go”.

    And even though the author died in the mid-80s, I always read in hope that this time she has finished the story.

    I also listen to books on cd while I am working in my studio (ok, at the moment it is my cold and disorderly basement, but if I keep calling it “the studio”, it will eventually get there). The library only has so man of those and you miss things when you are working and listening, so I re-listen a lot and since I like historical thrillers, I usually catch something new each time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, keep calling it the ‘studio’. Even if just for yourself.
      I was taught to answer the theater shop phone as ‘Scenic Studio’ because when you say ‘shop’, people automatically think ‘cars’.
      So if we both keep calling our space a ‘studio’ it’s bound to happen eventually.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I’m not a big re-reader. Two books I’ve re-read recently were books I chose for my book group – Watership Down and I Capture the Castle. I could probably re-read many books and find that I have forgotten much if not most.
    I Capture the Castle was written by Dodie Smith, best known for 101 Dalmatians. It has been made into a movie which I have yet to see.

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    1. Castle is a great book, under-appreciated in America, adored in England. The movie is decent, not great. I own it. Got it for $8 or so a few years ago. Waiting for my grand-daughter to get about four years older, then giving her my copy of the book and the DVD.
      Watership Down I have read about three times, not for several years. Picked it up a my daughter’s and just could not get into it again.That movie is interesting. Not great but interesting style of animation.

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    2. Do you know “My Brilliant Career” out of Australia? Superb coming of age feminist book, many decades ahead of its time. Also an excellent movie version of that.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Well, our dreadful library has done it to me again. Telling me I did not return a book that I did. Fifth time in a dozen years. First three times got rude treatment and accused of lying (“This is fraud, you know.”) when I showed them the book was on the shelf. Once had to pay the fine. Fourth time the book was one of the Chronicles of Narnia, of which they had many copies, so could not prove anything. Then the woman told me that it had been returned, unlike the notice said, but two months late. I just paid the fine. For several years I have stayed out of the library. But I now take Sandy every three weeks.
    I took out The Helga Pictures of Andrew Wyeth, one of my favorite artists.I returned it last Friday. Today got the automatic notice telling me it was due back this Friday. (It was one of six books I checked out; the other five were not in the notice.) It is a monster sized book, not something that could get lost in this small apartment. But Sandy agrees that I did take it back last Friday. Went down to check. Not anywhere in the library. Same nasty clerk says I will have to pay for the book, $86. But B & N sells it for new for $12. (How can that be?)
    It is so sad, that waste of a Blue Earth County Library.

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    1. Clyde, I am shocked that the library workers don’t believe you. I’m pretty sure that the hennepin county library policy is to believe patrons when they say they’ve returned something. In my own experience, sometimes the mistake is theirs, and sometimes it’s mine. Whenever I’ve had to talk to someone about something that’s on my record when I know or think I’ve returned it, they’ve been nothing but respectful (which is as it should be – even if you don’t believe the library patron, for heaven’s sake, ACT as if you do). If the library workers in your library system berate patrons when the mistake could just as likely be theirs, they are either failing to enact library policy or their policy stinks.The library is FOR the public, and the public is made up of individuals like you. Sorry to get so incensed about it, but it is just wrong for them to treat you like that and I feel very strongly about public libraries and how they should serve people.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Not going to happen, Steve. For one thing, I don’t have that degree. For another, even though I would be happy to just work as a lowly psa or aide or whatever they call it, the public libraries around here have made it clear over the past few years that they don’t want me.

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    2. Took my retired librarian wife with me this afternoon. We checked all over the library. Then went to desk. Got the efficient nasty-tempered old woman who has worked there forever. She looked off into space for awhile, then asked me if I had looked on the shelf. We explained. She said. “I don’t know what I can do about it.” Sandy asked her if maybe it was on one of their resehelving carts which she noticed in the big space behind the counter. the woman found it there. Said,”Yep, here it is” and walked away from us. I told here that this is the fifth time this has happened to me in a dozen years and that I had not been treated well in dealing with it. She said, “I don’t know what I can do about ti.”
      Somewhere in all that I did something to my neck, which is giving me severe pain and upsetting my balance. Going back to the dark.

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  10. One thing about being old: you can reread or rewatch mysteries and not remember the ending. We own several of the Joan Hickson Miss Marples. I also love the ones form the 50’s and 60’s. What is her name, something Rutherford?, puts a very different spin on it. TPT2 is playing wonderful Father Brown mysteries on Thursdays at 7, updated in time to the post WWII era, which is an interesting moment in time to set it. Ron Weasley’s father plays Fr. Brown perfectly.G. K. Chesterton, a devout and very conservative Catholic, despite being gay, would be horrified by the modern ethos of Fr. Brown.
    OT: yesterday I boldly predicted today’s topic. Actually several stories during the day could have triggered his humor. I noticed this one early in the day but did not connect to here.

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        1. No, not a typo. One of the few ways to deal with flair-up or trying to get out of flight-or-flight is to go lie down in a dark silent room. The northwest Abbot FM clinic does, or did, give out signs to hang on your door, different ways to say I need to be left alone.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I almost never try to guess the surprise ending of mysteries, but a few years ago I was approaching the climax of a whodunnit and I suddenly knew who dunnit and how he dunnit. I was thrilled for a brief moment before figuring out how I knew. The answer is that I had read that novel years ago and only in the last pages did I remember how it ended. People joke about how they have reached the age where they can hide their own Easter eggs. I am at the point where I can read and re-read books endlessly, enjoying them each time! 🙂

    Think what this means. Why waste money on new books when re-reading the old ones is so much fun? It isn’t a tragedy that Henning Mankell wrote a limited number of Wallander books if I can read each one again endlessly, saving money and precious library space.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Well, if we’re talking about picture books, there are endless ones I’ve read over the years to my kids and now I’m starting over with the grandkids. Dr. Seuss, Robert McCloskey, the Alfie books by Shirley Hughes, and so many more. And don’t tell anyone, but I read picture books to myself sometimes. Some of the great ones are for all ages (or else I just haven’t grown up yet).

    Every Christmastime, i read The Story of Holly and Ivy and A Christmas Memory.

    I’ve often re-read the books by Elizabeth Enright: The Four-Story Mistake and the others about Rush, Mona, Randy, and Oliver. They are just delightful. I also have re-read The King of the Wind (the old one with color illustrations), Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Wind in the Willows. And I never, ever tire of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Renee said it well: ” Re-reading books provides comfort in an age of anxiety.”

    Liked by 3 people

      1. St Paul Public Library has a lovely treasure in their children’s section. Years ago, Robert McCloskey visited there and did a number of drawings while he was speaking.

        They were stored away and rediscovered during the remodelling there and are now on display. They are very large and energetic charcoal illustrations of some of his stories.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, Barbara. Ground floor in the computer area before you get to the main children’s reading room (which has a beautiful puppet theatre in it).

          There are also a series of bronzes depicting “Ramona” along the way.

          We like to go when we are at the Science Museum and then stroll through the restored court rooms at he Landmark Center.

          Yet another magic corner of St Paul.

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    1. I agree with A Christmas Memory, ljb. I’ve read it so many times that I know parts of it by heart. Loved the Guernsey Lierary book as well.

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  13. There have been three books that I periodically re-read – The Diary of Anne Frank, Jane Eyre, and The Nun’s Story (by Katherine Hulme). I don’t really know why, but each time I read them It’s apparently for a different reason, as I get something different out of the experience. (I don’t read every word – skip the long descriptions, etc.)

    Lately I’ve added things like Home Cooking (and More …) by Laurie Colwin – I’ll start looking for a recipe, and the stories surrounding it is so delightful, I stop cooking and go read several chapters (they’re short). I’ll pick up Winnie the Pooh any time (the humor is really over the head of the youngest set). I’m sure there are others…

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  14. First off, what a fun blog. Pretty cool. I reread The Unbearable Lightness of Being because it’s simply a beautiful book. Milan Kundera is the author. It’s a little mature for a sophomore in high school, though.

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  15. Some books of stories or short pieces are easy to reread in bits. James Herriot, Bailey White, Lorrie Moore come to mind. When I was a kid I read pretty much everything more than once unless I didn’t like it the first time. Now there’s too much new stuff to spend a lot of time rereading, but I do occasionally go back to some things I read and liked when I was young, because I’ve mostly forgotten the stories by now.

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    1. I found an old paperback at a thrift store a while back. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle. The first time I read it was so very long ago that I’m almost scared to re-read it in case i find it to be boring instead of the magical book i experienced a long time ago.

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    2. I found an old paperback at a thrift store a while back. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle. The first time I read it was so very long ago that I’m almost scared to re-read it in case i find it to be boring instead of the magical book i experienced a long time ago.

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  16. Remembered another one by Tracy Chevalier – The Virgin Blue. I think I would re-read another of hers, The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I guess the ones I re-read are always about women’s lives during some crisis, how they coped and survived.

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  17. Wrinkle in Time
    The Hobbit
    Gone with the Wind
    Shining Through
    Jane Eyre
    Most of the Sherlock Holmes stories
    Agatha Christie (especially Miss Marple)
    Dragonflight

    I’d better stop….

    And as long as we’re talking about reading… BBC is this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Caroline’s, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I reread some books right after I’ve finished reading them the first time simply because I can’t bear to part ways with them. Often, a good book stays with me for weeks and I just can’t move on to another.

    More often than not, I reread book because something triggers a reminder that I need to revisit them. Either that, or it’s a long dormant desire to reconnect with what has become an integral part of me. Faulkner’s novels fit in that category, especially The Sound and the Fury.

    Once I start reading a book, I have a hard time giving up on it. But some books I’m so out of sync with that I have no trouble abandoning them after 40 pages. Eat, Love and Pray fall in that category. It was a highly successful book in terms of number of books sold (unfortunately I own one of them), but nothing about that book struck me as having ANY redeeming value.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Reading or rereading. For me, some books are to be consumed and remembered while others are like special places to visit whenever I feel the need to go to that place. I just read a book about WWII that was interesting, but I’ll not need to go there again. A book called Housekeeping (by Marilynne Robinson) was so densely poetic I had to read it three times to just get it. And then there are books like All the Light We Cannot See. I’ve read that one three times now and will go back to it when the time is right.

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  20. I just had a silly thought-what would a children’s book “Bedtime for Baboons” look like? It would have to span several time zones and take into account our differing lifestyles. Steve would be the last one in bed, as he is in the farthest west time zone.

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  21. Hillerman, mockingbird twain walden Harry potter all yes a could of times each at least but as a rule no
    Vonnegut little prince hound if the baskervilles polar express shel Silverstein ee cummings but not too much more
    Like jim I have a long list of to do and so retreading seems like rechewing but movies… Another story
    I love rewatching movies princess bride mockingbird Harry potter are books mentioned here, used to look forward to wizard of oz but my fair lady west side story born yesterday Harvey psych birds Casablanca 7 year itch bring up baby citizen cane guess who’s coming to dinner true grit some like it hot it’s a wonderful life Kramer vs Kramer Romeo and Juliet 2001 jaws Mary poplins sound of music butch Cassidy somebody up there likes me et waterfront graduate it happened one night grapes of wrath
    it goes on and on Caberet apocalypse red balloon pee wees adventure mr chips little big man anatomy of a murder
    I can watch leave it to beaver Andy Griffith dick van dyke perry mason
    I love stories but movies are my media wish reading was more so but movies are my thing tcm is magic for me
    Late day
    My schedule is off these days but I love checking in

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  22. There’s one book that l call my “Bible”: Eckhart Tolle’s The New Earth. l’ve reread it once or twice a year for at least 8 years. Each time l do, a feeling of light and grounding fill me – and, better yet, my ego gets checked at the door! It brings me a sweet peacefulness and acceptance.

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