I’m suffering from a serious bout of nostalgia at the moment. It’s so bad that I’m really struggling to read anything new because all I want to do is revisit my old favourites.
I’ve just finished rereading The Hunger Games trilogy and I think I enjoyed it even more this time. Last time I read it I was fed up of Katniss’ wining and ‘woe is me’ attitude by the end of Mockingjay but this time I was more tolerant, she does go through a hell of a lot in those books!
So having finished them I was casting around for what to read next and plenty of names suggested themselves to me; The Clan of the Cave Bear, Brave New World, The Book Thief and so on but the thing is, I’ve read all of them before. So I was stern with myself and started Gulliver’s Travels (which I thought was on The List and have since discovered it isn’t L). But I’m really struggling to get into it and I think one of the main reasons is that I still have all those other titles in my head and I want to be reading them instead.
So what is it that drives us to revisit old favourites? For instance, I’ve read Chocolat at least a dozen times but I still keep going back. The same with the Harry Potter series. Often it’s just that a story is so well written that it bears reading again and again. Well-constructed characters, especially those who we follow for a long time, can become like real friends and the thought of never hearing from them again can lead you to go back and read their stories another time. And a story that grips you once is more likely than not going to keep you hooked when you reread it.
Which brings me to another point – no nasty surprises. I hate knowing what happens in a book the first time I read it, spoilers are bad, but the second time round it can be comforting to know that the bad things you envision happening won’t. Your favourite character won’t fall down that cliff or get offed by the bad guy and the bad guy will get his comeuppance eventually. It leaves you free to enjoy the story in peace and, importantly, at a slower pace than the first time. There’s none (or maybe that should be less) of that racing through and skipping out all the descriptive details to find out who perished in the landslide or who was holding the murder weapon. I often find that I get more out of a book the second time round.
But having said all that I should probably confess that I am just a hopeless nostalgic. I’m one of those people that clings onto every train ticket, every holiday receipt, newspapers with reports on events I was at, everything. You know those old women who end up in a house full of clutter because everything has too many memories to throw away? That’s me, just without the ‘old’.
To prove this my favourite occupation at the moment is to watch old episodes of Casualty (for non-BBC viewers, Casualty is a drama set in a hospital emergency department and has been a fixture of Saturday night TV here in England since 1986). The episodes are all available on YouTube in 10 minute segments (it’s a 50 minute programme) and while I can get through 1 or 2 a night, I have lost whole weekends this way. One of the best things is that whenever they have music in an episode I get a double hit of TV and music nostalgia – last night’s episode contained tracks for S Club 7 and Steps, I was overjoyed!
I don’t think there’s much hope of a cure for me and what’s more, I don’t want one. I’m perfectly happy wallowing in my nostalgia the only downside is when it gets so bad I can’t enjoy new things but I’m halfway through Gulliver now and I’m reading The Clan of the Cave Bear in a morning so I get both old and new in one day.