Re-ReadingDo you do it? I often hear people that either do or do not. I don’t seem to come across many “sometimes” or “it depends”. I know that some people who don’t will make exceptions for a specific series or their absolute favourite book, and I know that some that do will refuse to re-read certain things for whatever reason.

I re-read all of the time. Over the holidays, I re-read both The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. I believe it’s the third time that I have read them, even though I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are my favourite books. The writing is very poetic, with a beautiful cadence that enhances the feel and taste of the story, but I have issues with the main character and a few passages within the books. However, that is for another day. These books are quite hefty, and by reading on and off over the break, between cooking the turkey and indulging in Bailey’s, I managed to finish them in less than a week.

I couldn’t count how many times I have read the Harry Potter or James Herriot books, and though I just finished the entire Sherlock series recently, I am already thinking about when I should start it again. I re-read because I love to feel the story all over again. I love to remember the smells and tastes and emotions of the story, and I almost always miss a few things the first time around. It’s an act of discovery for me that evokes nostalgia and comfort and interest. As a side benefit, I suppose it would be quite flattering for the authors to know that their content is worth looking at more than once.

I have always re-read books, from small storybooks to novels to entire series’. I don’t have a library card, because for one I am terrible at bringing the books back, and two, I have a deep desire to own what I read, so that I may re-read it whenever I choose. I’ve only just realized now that my desire to re-read books probably plays into why I prefer to own books, oh, self-realization! I’ve just never been one for borrowing, probably because I find it too restrictive.

For me, re-reading doesn’t just allow me to experience the story all over again, it lets me look into more than just the story. The second time, I can pay more attention to the word choices and the dialogue. The third time perhaps I will realize that I don’t even like the book after all, but was just caught up in the story. Perhaps the forth time I will decide that the book is worth reading because, even if I don’t love the story, the writing is just terrific. Each time allows me to understand the author more, and to understand the book as a whole, instead of just one small piece of what the writer was trying to say.

Of course, there are books that I just couldn’t bring myself to re-read because I disliked them so much the first time. A good example would be Twilight, I read the whole series because I couldn’t leave it unfinished, but the entire time my mind was swelling with sarcastic remarks and frustration at the story and the writing.

The Color Purple, although very, very good was just too jittery for me. The way that it is actually written kept pulling me out of the story as if I were being pulled out of a warm bath over and over only to be thrown back in after being left in the cold for a moment or two.

The Handmaid’s Tale was definitely interesting, and thought-provoking, but I still haven’t decided if I will read it again or not. I feel as if I learned all I needed to from it the first time around.

So, there are exceptions to what I will read again and what I will not, but for the most part, if I enjoyed it the first time, I will probably like it even more the second, third, or fourth. I also believe that really understanding someone else’s writing helps you to be a better writer yourself, and the only way that you can do that is by reading.

So, how about you? Do you re-read or not? Why or why not? Have there been any exceptions?

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35 thoughts on “Re-Reading

  1. I don’t often re-read but only because there are always so many books sitting on my shelves that I haven’t read yet that I feel deserve precedence.

    I’ve read the Harry Potter series twice and am periodically working my way through the Chronicles of Narnia books again for the first time since childhood. I’ve also read Tess of the D’Urbervilles several times as it’s my favourite classic.

    I would love to re-read more often and hopefully one day I will!

    • I’ve had Narnia on the go for a long time now, though I did read it completely once. I usually have more than one book on the go: a comfort book (if you will) that I am re-reading, and a book that I am reading for the first time. Since I like to buy instead of rent, I tend to not have enough new books to read to suit my needs. 🙂

  2. I used to re-read my favorite books all the time (especially Harry Potter, and also some Stephen King), but I rarely do it these days. This is partly because my busy college schedule doesn’t allow me time to re-read, but also because I want to keep the magic alive. I only re-read something after a long while in-between reads, and only books I really love. I plan to re-read Battle Royale one of these days, but it has to be a long time from now. And I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series now (or listening to them on CD, actually), but only because it’s been a number of years since I last read them.

    I do the same thing with movies most of the time too, by the way.

    • It is definitely harder when you are busy. I find that I re-read more when I am swamped than otherwise though, because it guarantees that I won’t miss anything. I’ve never tried audio books, how do you like them? I’ll re-watch certain movies, but not like I re-read books. It has to be a certain movie, and I need a lot of time in between.

  3. A great question! There are definitely people who move on as soon as they read a book, and they never look back. I like to re-read things, especially books I read in college. I don’t think I could have possibly understood anything I read back then! I certainly get more out of the re-reads the second and third time around.

    I enjoyed the Twilight books, but I think that’s a type of disposable fiction, entertaining, but not worth a second run.

    So, you’re right. Some books are worthy and some are not!

  4. I used to re-read pretty much every book like 2 times, but now I have so many books to read I find myself not picking up books I have already read. So currently i don’t re read

  5. I reread books all the time. In fact, I am currently rereading Gulliver’s Travels for the 5th time at least. I reread books to reexperience the characters, language, plot, etc. I usually (but not always) reread books I enjoy. I most recently reread The Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre for the third time. Although I disagree with his philosophy, the questions explored in the work are so thought-provoking that I go back to it again and again. In contrast, I don’t really like Candide by Voltaire although I have reread it 3 times as well. Each time I hope to gain a better appreciation of the work. Rereading a book seems reasonable to me. It wouldn’t be a good idea to look at a painting you like only once. My motto is that if I don’t ever want to reread it, it probably wasn’t worth reading the first time.

    • I like that motto! There are so many books I have read many times, like Harry Potter, Beautiful Joe, Black Beauty, Mutt…the list goes on. 🙂 I do the same thing with some books that I don’t like. I find it’s a good way to learn about writing styles and concepts, and to really learn to define your own voice.

  6. I reread true favorites, also I found with the Harry Potter series I would reread the series before each new book, to keep the story fresh in my head. Just like some movies, some books are a one time enjoyment but, the ones that touch your heart or resonate with your soul are ones you reread to refresh your spirit time and again.

  7. Interesting. I always feel sorry for people who don’t reread. You only get PART of the all wonderful aspects of books that way.

    *my reason for not owning a library card is eerily similar to yours, btw*

      • Exactly!

        Or Tolkien. I always notice something I never knew before each time I reread his books.

        I’m always hoping my writing hits that “have-to-reread-this” mark. 🙂

      • Ah, Tolkien is a good one for that. I have read The Hobbit a million times, but I always find something that I never noticed before. I hope that my writing does as well. I suppose that’s something that all authors/writers strive for!

  8. I’m a re-reader. Especially favorite authors. I tend to read in a frenzy the first time around, and will pick the book back up a year or so later to absorb more. Also, once I’m very familiar with a book, I’ll buy a used or cheap copy and make notes on stylistic and writing elements. But that’s only for books that really captured me, and demand my further attention.

  9. I can’t every tell you how many times I’ve read many of Victoria Holt books. And, would you believe it, one of my favorite books as a child and as an adult is The Black Stallion Revolts. I cried the first time I read it, and I n-e-v-e-r used to cry over books! There’s another horse story that I really like to re-read.

    See, I grew up (and consequently blog about it) on a farm in rural south Alabama. I was a horse-crazy kid and am still horse crazy!

    Then there’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Rebecca. I read Jane Austen a couple of times, as well.

    • Oh, To Kill a Mockingbird! I have read that many times. Jane Austen too. A few by Bronte, such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. One of my favourite books about horses was Black Beauty, and that book can make me cry. I’ll read just about anything again!

  10. I love to re-read my favorites books like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. I already re-reading The Hobbit and usually book series to refresh the characters. But, I will never re-read the Twilight series. I didn’t like it not even the movie. Happy New Year my friend!

  11. Definitely agree with you on the favourites – there are some stories I like to go back and read as if I’m visiting an old friend. There’s a comfort to it. Does get harder when you have less time, I started my own review blog as a chance to read new and also revisit some of my favourites, such as Wuthering Heights. I love crime novels and always thought I wouldn’t enjoy re-reading those as the suspense element wouldn’t be there – but i was surprised by how many subtle clues and hints I’d noticed and how much I got out of a second reading!

    • Wuthering Heights is a good one, I think I’ve only read it twice, but I’d like to do it again. I have enough trouble keeping up on my blog let alone actually finding time to read, but I force myself to and I am always glad for it.

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