Rereading high school favorites…

The Great GatsbyWith my oldest son in high school, I’ve enjoyed some of the ‘joys’ of returning to some of the old Classics I haven’t read since my own (long, long ago) high school days.

Of course, many classics I reread regularly on my own, but strangely enough, for some others I apparently need a little push.

This is why I found myself at a track and field meet for my younger son last weekend, rereading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby at the request of my older son. He’s reading it in class and “wanted to discuss it with me.” And let’s face it, when a sports-obsessed son wants to discuss novels with his mom, you’re kinda nuts to pass up on an opportunity like that. : )

Of course, I remembered the basic themes, main characters and plot points, but, how can I put this delicately? After such a long time between readings, it’s (almost) like reading the book again for the first time.

I enjoyed it in high school, but I didn’t love the novel. Somehow, I find myself warming to it rereading it all these years later, remembering scenes or character insights I had forgotten about, and – just maybe – reading it through the eyes of a different person, since books means so much more to us at different stages of life.

This has happened to me with other novels we’ve read together, and it’s one of the (many) joys of novel reading – interpreting novels differently at different stages of your life, with accumulated experiences and wider views you bring to the reading experience as – ahem – the years go by and your views change.

What about you, readers? Do you enjoy revisiting novels you read in the past? Do you revisit some of them as your children read them for classes? Are you surprised to revise your opinions of them?


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  2. evelyneholingue on October 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    What happened with my kids is that I got to read many American classics I had read in French when I was their age. So in a way I re-read them, although it often felt as a first time. In the same manner I have “re-read” all of John Irving’s novels, one of my favorite authors.
    You’ve also make a great point: what we have to read in school feels like homework and although we are smart kids in high school we also lack the experience that can give many more layers to a book.
    The Great Gasby is one good example. As is Zola’s work.
    I didn’t have the maturity to approach everything he wrote and was often shocked or even scared by the graphic descriptions. Later on, I had another understanding of these violent scenes.

    • kimberlysullivan on October 11, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      Greta comment, Evelyne. And this is how I feel reading my children’s Italian stories. Many I had read – but in English translation – and many more were new to me. So it was a good occasion to read and discover along with them. Agree with you about maturity. Back in high school, all the Gatsby characters seemed so old to me. : )

  3. Emma on October 7, 2017 at 9:27 am

    My daughter is at the age where we are reading my junior school favourites vs. High school and it’s fun. We are doing swallows and amazons at the moment which made me want to be an adventurer. For other books, I retread sometimes but not often…that will probably come!

    • kimberlysullivan on October 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      So glad you’re enjoying this, too, Emma. I have one junior school son, too, so I’m on both ends of the spectrum. Like you, I’m fining it fun to revisit.

  4. Locke Dor on October 11, 2017 at 3:13 am

    I’m in high school now, and I love reading classics. It has a special place in my heart. I don’t know why though. I feel like what if when I finish school I won’t read them, because the thing that made me like it, was reading it with everyone in my class, and discussing it.

    I haven’t read ‘The Great Gatsby” but it’s nice to see some people are still reading classics. All applauds to you.

    Thank you for an interesting read.

    – Locke Dor.

    • kimberlysullivan on October 11, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      So great to hear from a high school student, too. And wonderful to hear you enjoy reading the Classics. Couldn’t agree more that one of the special aspects of studying the Classics back in high school is the all the great classroom discussion it generates. Happy reading!

  5. cdfolse on March 18, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    I have a lot of my high school reads at home. I do feel myself drawn back to them from time to time. Each time grabbing for a different one. I love the energy of the same feelings I felt when I read it for the first time in high school plus the bonus of new feelings because I am at a different point in my life.

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