“Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said..."As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar.”
― Cornelia Funke, Inkspell
The first book I thought of on reading this passage was Little Women.
How many times, in how many places and circumstances I have read that book! Reading the chapter "Meg Goes to Vanity Fair" always reminds me of the time I read it in a Victorian house that had been made into a doctor's office, the sky gloomy and only occasional sunlight creeping through the windows as I curled up miserably on an antique sofa. A family reunion of adults I mostly didn't know, held in a crowded house on a rainy day is what comes to mind when I read "Camp Lawrence," the irony of that fictional sunny picnic by the river not lost on me as I remember that the conversation we had that day included musings on whether or not the river near our home would flood again.
It soon did and within days I found myself camped out in my recently deceased grandmother's house, laughing about Amy's artistic endeavors and trying to get my bearings. If you open my old paperback copy you can see exactly what page I was on when I was reading in the tub and the shower suddenly turned on with no warning, soaking the pages. Reading about Beth's death always reminds me of the time I tried to read that passage during a break between worksheets in biology and had to fight to keep from crying in class. As I turn the pages I always see my 8th grade self going through that spring, trying to keep my life together as I weathered a flood, packed everything up so that our house could be moved, and lost my only friend. The words bring back days of rollerblading early in the morning before school, my rediscovery of dolls and paperdolls, the ballet classes that were never long enough for me, and of course, lots of hours of homework.
It is true; what you do when you read a book somehow becomes part of the book, and when you reread it your past self will be waiting for you.
What book preserves a past self for you? Please tell me in the comments!