When it comes to self-help books -- two that I really connected with this year were Barbara Fredrickson's “Positivity” and James A. Levine's “Move a Little, Lose a Lot” -- I find myself going back for another dose of inspiration, the way many people draw fresh inspiration by re-reading the Bible.
With my favorite novels, I sometimes think that my interest in going back is not so much to re-experience the story as to savor some passage or image that I really connected with -- in many cases, something that could have made a really great poem, but has more resonance because you’re connected to the character in a much deeper way. An example: I often think of that passage in John Irving's "A Widow for One Year" about the kind of intimate gaze that surveys your beauty not just inside a particular moment in time, but all of you, in all the time you've experienced together. Or something like that. I'll have to go back and check one of these days.
I can envision a New Yorker cartoon in which some guy purports to be constructing a do-it-yourself Kindle by scanning passages from his favorite books into his laptop. Less clutter that way. Cheaper, too.
Is that something I'd try myself, if I had the time? I've had nuttier ideas, certainly. But the main reason it won't happen is that even as we prepare to enter the second decade of this century, I remain at heart a 20th century creature who prefers real books over Memorex. We'll see if that's still the case at this time next year.