"But I'd know you better..."

Every once in a while I get an email or a message in which someone compliments my blog "Her Book Shelf".  It's a simple mistake that I really don't mind too much.  I also had one author refer to me in two different emails as "Leslie" despite my consistent signature of "lisa :)"  However, the reason I chose the existent name of this blog is that I think the books a person reads do tell you something about an individual.  My friends that read mostly nonfiction tend to be rather serious (and very smart).  Those that like fantasy tend to be imaginative dreamers.  People I know that read a lot of mysteries have logical or analytical minds.  And those that like love stories, in general, are sentimental romantics.  I know these are generalizations and don't always hold true, just as I know there are plenty of people like me that enjoy multiple genres and may possess multifaceted personalities.  As much as I enjoy trying to use books as a literary form of chiromancy, I came across this quote that sheds a bit more light on my odd hobby of pinpointing personalities:

"'Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are' is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread."
~Francois Muriac
I really like this quote, because as much as I read, and as much as I enjoy variety in my reading, the books that I reread compose a much shorter list.  Yes, I enjoy mysteries, romance, historical fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, thrillers, young adult, and classics - but of the books that I have read multiple times in my life I think 90% of them fall into fantasy, historical fiction, or mystery.  Perhaps next time I'm getting to know someone rather than ask, "What do you like to read?" the more telling question will be, "What do you like to reread?"

8 Response to ""But I'd know you better...""

  1. Unknown says:
    July 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    I'm liking the quote! Also, to sympathize with your misspelled blog, I usually signed off as "Nora Bell", my first and middle name in real life is Nora-Ellen, but it's since been shortened to just Nora, with Bell as my pseudo middle name. I've had emails addressed to "Ms. Bell" and it just makes me laugh. Then, when I'm calm enough, I show my mom and we laugh again :P

    Nora, The Bookery

  2. Sam (Tiny Library) says:
    July 20, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    I don't reread enough. I used to, before I started blogging, but my to-read list is so massive now that I feel under pressure to keep reading new books. I definitely want to try to reread more.

  3. Becky Banks says:
    July 20, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    It's so true isn't it? That we can know someone that much better by what they reread. Like the wickedly strict aunt who never smiles but always has a stack of romantic novels tucked on the nightstand. :0) I personally reread love stories that strike a cord - one that I remember vividly is The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I reread that thing until the spine cracked.

  4. Ellen aka Ellie says:
    July 20, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    To Kill a Mockingbird. Winnie-the-Pooh. Many kids' picture books.

  5. Anonymous Says:
    July 20, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Good point.

    For me, I reread Foucault's Pendulum, The Historian, Madame Bovary, Gone with the wind.

  6. Enbrethiliel says:
    July 21, 2011 at 4:29 PM


    Whenever the topic of rereading comes up, I always remember a woman I knew who said she had made a conscious decision never to reread anything. There are so many books in the world to get to, she said, that she doesn't want to allot her limited leisure time to books she has already read.

    That's a view which is worlds apart from my own. I'm the kind who'll answer the question, "Have you read ___?" with a number. E.g., "Only once." And I think a part of me firmly believes you can't really say you've read a book until you've reread it. There's just so much more one can pick up during a second reading, you know?

    Earlier this year, I was inspired to reread Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, which I first finished in uni, for a paper I was doing. It was a better reading experience than I would have ever predicted! Since then, I've been determined to reread all the classics I bought copies of in uni. (Well, as far as "determined" goes. =P I mean, I'd like to do it, but there are new books to read, too.)

  7. lisa :) says:
    July 22, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    Nora - I suppose since Charlotte Bronte's pen name was Bell, you can take it as a compliment when people think that's your last name!

    Sam - I'm hesitant to reread for those same reasons, but I always find it rewarding when I do!

    Becky - I read Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was younger but I really don't remember it. Perhaps I need to put that one on the Need To Reread list?

    Ellen - I suppose this is where I actually need to confess that I've never read any A.A. Milne....

    Jennifer - I need to read Eco too! I just read GWTW for the first time last year. I could see it as a reread in the future!

    Enbrethiliel - I think someone's choice not to reread books also says a lot about them, I would assume that person to be a forward-looking individual who values new experiences more than reminiscing about the past. And I think you do get to know books better with multiple readings though I get why that style is not for everyone.

    For me, it depends a lot on the book. Some works I refuse to reread because I think my initial encounter with them would be hard to match. I really dislike when I reread a book and it's not as good or as magical as I remember it. Some books I read and then go back to certain parts or chapters and reread immediately after I finish. I also have "comfort reads" that I turn to as rereads when I can't find the right book to grip me at times. And some books I just didn't enjoy enough to reread.

  8. Sarah says:
    July 23, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    That is a great quote! And as I'm thinking about it, probably very true...

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