A lot of readers discover Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca as teenagers, but I was fully grown and reading books inspired by browsing the local feminist bookshop, writers like Audre Lorde and Marilyn Frye, bell hooks and Gloria Alzandúa.

In my stacks that year, 87% of the books were by women writers, many of them vocal about their pursuit of equality and openly political—like Margaret Atwood, Rebecca West, Nadine Gordimer, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

Two of my woman-friends, who outwardly identified as feminists, recommended Rebecca to me, so I went into it expecting…expecting what? Something else. There were things I liked about it, but I didn’t love it, not like my friends loved it.

They’d both been younger when they first read Rebecca, but each of them had reread it as an adult, too. This rereading is the kind of detail that makes me rush for a recommended read, even now, but especially in that reading year (when I was feverishly filling gaps in my reading experience, with George Eliot, Marguerite Duras, Jean Rhys, and Miles Franklin).

Based on my other reading back then, I was probably expecting self-assurance, daring and determination. And the narrator of Rebecca is anxious and insecure, dedicated to a single pursuit: being a “good wife” to Mr. de Winter (whose first wife, Rebecca, died).

When I first read it, more than ten years ago, I was preoccupied by all the qualities that were missing in its heroine; rereading it this year, I wanted to pay attention to what was there rather than what I’d been looking for (and found lacking) in my first reading.

This time, I thought of those recommendations in the way that I sometimes recommend books like L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, stories that I loved when I was a girl, when both my real world and my reading world were much smaller.

Nostalgia kicks in, because I remember the warmth of Anne and Diana’s friendship, Anne’s sense of belonging somewhere even without a pair of parents, the talk of writing stories, and how often mistakes and misjudgements were made and remedied.

I am not nostalgic for my own past in those years. In my most fervent Anne-reading years, I was living in a village which was as friendly to outsiders as the Pringle family was to Anne in Windy Poplars. Nothing about me fit in that village; I liked to read when I moved there, books were everything to me by the time I left.

I am not nostalgic for Anne’s past either. She was content with marriage and family, abandoning her writing for those pursuits. She was content to maintain the status quo in some ways (e.g. social hierarchies, race and class structures) even if not all (e.g. women’s access to post-secondary education, ambition and pacifism).

I am nostalgic for the way I understood Anne in the past, for the sense that I could fit into her world even when I didn’t feel like I could fit into my real world. I am nostalgic for the space into which I could escape. I am nostalgic for a way of reading that was about dissolving into a story, in a way that I couldn’t seem to manage in my real world where I was all edges and halfways.

So when I reread Rebecca, I thought about how I probably would have loved this story if I’d first read it when I was just a few years younger than the narrator (she’s eighteen when du Maurier’s novel begins). How I would have forgiven her for building her world around Maxim and for fading into the shadows when Mrs. Danvers wagged her finger. How I would have admired her loyalty to Maxim and the beauty and wonder of Manderley. (Much like Anne and Gilbert and P.E.I. – although Anne never shrank from speaking her mind.)

We feminist readers, we justice seekers, we readers who seek equality in the world–we once inhabited much smaller worlds, on and off the page. Inside the readers we have become, however, our earlier reading selves exist, even yet. Our various reading selves, they are with us, always.

And the reader we are today—if we are fortunate—that reading-self is still growing and changing. A book you are loving today might not fit with your future reading self, and, still, we must hold all of our reading selves close, encourage them to turn the pages, to turn back and turn forward, and to rest when we are disoriented, allowing our previous and emerging reading selves to get reacquainted.