It bears repeating

For a long time I thought that I would never re-read books. My refusal was part badge of honor and part common sense. After all, there are bazillions of books in the world, the vast majority of which I will never even know exist, let alone find the time to read, so why waste precious hours on novels I’ve already absorbed?

Then I got older, and books I had in my youth sworn allegiance to as lifetime favorites became little more than dull memories, or overarching sentiments (“yeah…I remember…liking it?”) It was with this in mind that I began slowly and occasionally picking up old favorites, particularly those I thought might seem different to me now that I’m old and wise and at least vaguely understand politics. I’ve read 1984 at least three times, Fahrenheit 451 two and, more recently had a second go at Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, which I was inspired to read again after all the (completely justified) hype surrounding Freedom.

A Separate Peace, the 1959 novel by John Knowles, seemed like the perfect candidate for a re-read. It’s one of those books most people know they’ve read, but from which most readers are separated by at least a decade, having been assigned the book in high school or even earlier. I am one of those people: I have vague memories of A Separate Peace from my formative middle-school years, when a novel about two prep school best friends probably resonated with me the same way the Babysitters Club did (I didn’t really babysit, but understood what it was like to spend a lot of time thinking about boys.) But other than some general recollections, I couldn’t tell you before this week what exactly A Separate Peace was about.

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