Saturday, December 3, 2011

Revisiting Books

Readers fall into two main categories - those who read books once and those who will re-read books. I fall into the latter group. I re-read books, and I do it for multiple reasons. Sometimes, it's because I enjoyed the book so much the first time. Sometimes, it's because someone else is reading and I want to be able to discuss it with them, but may not remember much. Other times, it's because I didn't particularly like the book, but want to give it another chance.

Right now, I'm reading Eaters of the Dead for the second time. The first time was for High School English class. It is a retelling of Beowulf and is written by Michael Crichton. Dea is currently reading Beowulf, and Eaters of the Dead is next. I want her to compare the two. I figure, if I'm going to be able to converse with her about the book, it should be fairly fresh in my mind.

Now, I will admit that I was not fond of this book when I first read it. Here is how the main character is introduced:

This is the book of Ahmed ibn-Fadlan, ibn-alAbbas, ibn-Rasid, ibn-Hammad...........

That sentence then goes on to explain who he is, and the sentence is a full paragraph in itself. Now, in my memory, that is how the names are written quite often in the book. Though, upon recent reflection, I realized that may not be the case. I think my disappointment in the book's content colored my opinion a bit much. I also think that my dislike of the book made me remember it different than it actually is. That's actually quite normal. If an experience is negative, we tend to remember the negative things more prominently.

You may be wondering why I was disappointed in the book when I read it in High School. To be honest, it just was not what I was expecting. A few times in High School English, we would get a choice of books - you can read book A or book B, or sometimes even book A, book B, or book C. This was one of those. I don't remember what our other choice was, but I remember that I had already read it. We got no explanation or description of the books, just titles. Eaters of the Dead was a great title and sounded like it might be a horror book or something about a cannibalistic tribe or something along those lines. Plus, as I said, I had read the other book. So, I chose Eaters of the Dead. Then, I start reading to find out that it is nothing like I had thought it might be. I was truly disappointed. Here I was, expecting something with horror & gore or at least a suspense/thriller, and instead I get a retelling of Beowulf with a main character who is introduced with his bloodline back to his great-grandfather. I was disappointed. I was irritated that there were so few options from which to choose. I was bothered that the teacher hadn't told us anything about the book when offering it as an option. If I had known what to expect, my opinion might have differed greatly.

I recognize that my original opinions of this book were colored by the situation surrounding my reading it.  So, I chose to read it again, to gain a fresh perspective (one not biased by a negative situation). I have to say that I am glad I decided to read it again. I'm only about 60 pages in, but it is much better than I remember it.