Mary Ruefle on re-reading books

Rail: Before I turned on the tape for this interview, you were talking about your personal library and how you are at a stage in your life where your desire to re-read certain texts means you will not have time to read new things. I think of the final two lines of “Thirteen”: “I read three thousand books, / and then I died.”

Ruefle: I recently unpacked 17 boxes of books that I haven’t seen in 22 years. Many of the books were texts I first read in college. I thought I would easily be able to get rid of them. I found myself extremely attached to them. An example would be my old Penguin edition of Ulysses. I know I will never read it again because I don’t have time but I couldn’t part from it. I realized that my wanting to re-read so many of these books again was actually a desire to live my life all over again.

— Mary Ruefle, interview in The Brooklyn Rail,  July 2014

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