Enjoying a Book Twice

Devil and Miss PrymA while ago I wrote a post about reading a book twice: was it fun, healthy or just a waste of time?. I began reading “The Devil and Miss Prym” for the second time but switched to another book a few pages into it. I’m not sure why. Later when I finally did get back to reading it, I finished it in a few days. And loved it.

The book is a fable, which deals with the struggle between good and evil. A stranger arrives in an isolated mountain village and he brings with him a devilish offer. I don’t want to tell what the offer is, as I think the surprise of it is what gives the book its strength. I think it would a shame to know this before reading. (It’s one of the reasons I avoid book covers when a friend lends me a book to read). Anyway, the stranger’s instigation throws the townspeople into a moral tailspin and everyone tries to find moral excuses for doing something evil.

I admit that I didn’t have the wow-factor I did during the first read, but I did remember why I liked it then. The writing is so fluent that I’m not bogged down by too many words and can just get lost in the story. There are no unnecessary descriptions or explanations.

Although the entire book is about the characters’ internal conflict, there is little telling and the thought processes of many of the townspeople and the stranger are slowly revealed. I love trying to empathise with everyone . Like many of Paulo Coelho’s stories, it’s about philosophy and morality, which will keep you thinking long after you’ve finished the book. It is a great book to discuss with others, but unfortunately I know few people who’ve read it, too.

And I’m also a sucker for stories where the devil, or death or other spirits are personified. I think it’s one of the reasons that I love reading South American literature.



11 thoughts on “Enjoying a Book Twice

  1. Unlike Samir, I’m into Coelho’s books. Just started loving them though. I’ve read Eleven Minutes and I’m reading the Pilgrimage currently. . . There are few books and movies i go back to: Django Unchained is one of those movies…

    1. I loved The Devil and Miss Prym but was put off by The Alchemist. I guess you can love one book by an author and simply hate the next one. It’s one of the reason I can’t really say that I have a favourite author, just books that I really love.

  2. I must admit I come back to some books and movies – I don’t know why but somehow, every couple of years, the Lord of the Rings is a must for me. The same with the movie. I reckon it is the writing, not only the stories themselves, are what keeps me coming back. And every time I enjoy something else – descriptions, characters, action, nature or architecture.

    1. I guess I should reread more books than I do. But I know that LotR won’t be one of them. Although I loved the book I was glad to get through it. For me there were parts with just too much description which took away from the reading pleasure. I am considering thought, rereading The Hobbit, especially after the seeing the first movie.

      1. Right! You should. The description can be a killer way too often. But along the way I began to appreciate the descriptions… Especially that recently I started to perceive reading a book as a “flowing” process, a book I actually read is so precious that I feel a great need to literally savor the pages. A bit like disappearing asphalt below my car (I’m a maniac of driving!). It flows away… It’s gonna be past me pretty soon so …I dig in. 🙂

  3. I will read a book more than once to figure out why it “works” and use it to instruct my own writing. I don’t usually ever get the first time read “wow” feeling (unless it’s The Dead), but that gives me the opportunity to focus on the details, the untying of the multiple threads that turn the work into magic. I will often re-read only a small portion of a book or story to understand the craft for a specific problem that I’m working on. When I wrote a seminar paper in graduate school on the differences between the book and film of Patricia Highsmith’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” I read the book about a half dozen times and watched the film probably 15 times. it was tremendously instructive.

    1. Since I joined a writing group I realise that I read books differently, even the first times I notice things about the writing I never used to notice before that. It is very instructive but I have to say that I sometimes miss those naive days when I just ignored writing style and simply enjoyed the story.

  4. I’m actually not into Coelho’s books and I find his writing across the few books I read formulaic and the themes monotonous. But this book in particular is the only one of his I’ve kept on my bookshelf because I’m also a sucker for stories where the theological baddies are personified 🙂

    You might want to read ‘The Master & Margarita’… it’s awesome.

    1. I rewatch movies all the time, you’re right there’s always something new to discover. I guess I would read more books twice if it just didn’t take so long…

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