Read that again.

A brief rant about social trends and a list of books that have inspired me enough to make the, ‘read that again’ pile.

Read that again.
Photo by Tom Hermans / Unsplash

I’m noticing a trend lately where people take an excellent quote (written by someone else), tack onto it an order directed at the reader to, “Read that again.”, then post it on social media.

I’m not a fan. It mangles the quote.

Great comedians don’t need to tell you to laugh at their jokes. Great comedians deliver jokes that get laughs because they’re great jokes. The jokes stand on their own. No direction is given about how the audience should react to them, and none is needed.

The same goes for great quotes. When we read a great quote, we read it again because we want to, because it hits us in all the *feels*, not because someone tells us to. We re-read it, save it, and share it because we’re inspired to do so...that is, until we’re directed to do so by lilly_pony1992. That’s when the quote loses its magic, victim of a cheap gimmick.

Sigh. My apologies: I honestly had no idea how much that was bothering me. Also, if lilly_pony1992 is a real person, no offense intended.

Shall we press on?

Here’s a (hopefully) less gimmicky interpretation of, “Read that again” in book-list form: books I’m planning to re-read again soon because of how strongly they resonated with me during my first readthrough.

#1: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

My first readthrough of ‘Bird by Bird’ was in audiobook format, and I lost track of how many times I had wished I could have made highlights and notes on Anne’s many lessons in persistence, writing, and life in general. Her writing style is beautiful, and ‘Bird by Bird’ deserves a much more deliberate study.

I’ll be putting a lot of notecards to good use with this one, especially since I have been trying to write and spend time with art more consistently. Here are a few quotes I loved from my first readthrough of her book:

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. You dont have to see where youre going, you dont have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you wont have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who arent even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while theyre doing it.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

#2: The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

Years ago, I set out to read all the classics (still working on that, btw) and along the way I fell in love with Mark Twain. Since then, I’ve been steadily reading and re-reading his works and remember laughing a ton during my first readthrough of, ‘The Innocents Abroad’. I’m overdue for some humor, and I think a Mark Twain (or John Hodgman) book is just what I need to get me through the gloomier weather ahead.

Spoiler alert! We haven't made it to this episode yet (we’re on Season 5)

#3: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman (the audiobook version) (or any other audiobook by John Hodgman)

John Hodgman’s books are witty, fun, and silly, and are all performed wonderfully in audiobook format. I listen to most of my audiobooks at a faster speed, but as a rule, I never speed up a John Hodgman book. His fictional musings about Theodore Roosevelt (a figure I have studied semi-extensively), the old furry lobster, commercial spots about crabs, and all his other random goodies remind me of the countless goofy, skits my brother and I used to write and perform growing up (and oftentimes revisit as adults).

#4: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

No caricature of Theodore Roosevelt could ever outdo the real Theodore Roosevelt.

“You go to the White House, you shake hands with Roosevelt and hear him talk,” wrote the journalist Richard Washburn Child, “and then go home to wring the personality out of your clothes.”

Part one of a three-part series, I turn to this book whenever I catch myself needing a mindset adjustment. Theodore Roosevelt is likely one of the most accomplished individuals of both his time and ours. His persistence, intellect, grit, and positive attitude pulled him through challenge after challenge, and it’s his rain-soaked, bespectacled face I imagine, laughing “Bully!” into a raging storm whenever I feel overwhelmed by my own life’s storms.

These will keep me plenty busy paired with several other first-time reads I’m chipping away at (perhaps a subject of a future article).

Your turn: Think of a book (or two, or three) you love to share and consider sharing it again with yourself to see what you take away from the experience the next go-round.