Jason Diamond writes for Lit Hub about his tradition of rereading Henry James’ Turn of the Screw every fall, on the same bench (with a hot coffee) in Washington Square Park.
Diamond, a Brooklyn-based writer, reminded me of the unique comfort one gets from a literary tradition. I used to reread Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran every January. I was trying to recreate the excitement I felt when I first read the memoir on an annual Christmas vacation visiting my aunt in Jamaica. Nafisi is the reason I first read Daisy Miller and Washington Square. She helped remind me why I love the works of Austen, Fitzgerald, and Nabokov so much. And she was also my ambassador welcoming me to the literary wonderland of Iran.
I’ve heard of other common rereads (The Great Gatsby is very popular among them). While I eventually dropped mine, I wouldn’t mind starting up a new one. A literary tradition guarantees that your deep connection with a book and its author will be forever tied to specific weather, seasonal work and play habits, and other people’s lives you happen to be traversing through at the time. Your choice will be as infused with memories as it is with your own attachment to it.