Rereading

Historically — which is to say, before blogging — I have been a huge rereader, devoting a solid fifty percent of my reading time to books I have read before. These days, I reread far less often, and far fewer books, for a variety of reasons.

1. Ease of access, home. I have bitched and moaned about leaving Louisiana more than any girl with the level of job satisfaction I currently experience has a right to bitch and moan about anything. But if I may complain just a tiny bit more without making you hate me, being separated from my books has been a trial. In the old days, I would drift around my bookshelves for several minutes, letting my eyes wander over the abundance of old and new books, and the choices were many and varied. If, as was often the case, I just wanted something to read while I was brushing my teeth, it was easy and convenient to scoop up a book I’d read a dozen times already, and read it yet again.

1a. Ease of access, library. I’m not blaming the New York Public Library — well, actually, yes, I am blaming the New York Public Library. It is not as good a library as my library at home, in that I have significantly more difficulty in getting the books I want. Either they are not at the branch I go to, or they are ostensibly at the branch I go to but they are cunningly mis-shelved so that nobody can find them. The holds system proceeds at the speed of, of, of a snail. A snail that is driving very slowly! The books I might consider rereading take weeks and weeks to reach me, and by then I’ve moved on.

2. Adulthood. Oh, adulthood. I thought you were going to be so cool, and you have proved to be quite the double-edged sword. On one hand, I am now old enough to appreciate some amazing books that would have been over my head a few years ago. on the other hand, rereading demands more of me now, and I demand more of it. It’s not like the old days, when I could grab Magic by the Lake and zip through it in two hours. (And my copy of Magic by the Lake is at home, anyway.) (I mean, new books aren’t like Magic by the Lake in awesomeness packed into short lengths; I don’t mean Magic by the Lake has palled because I’m a grown-up now.) When I pick up a grown-up book to reread it, it takes longer to read, and I want it to be correspondingly more rewarding. A fluffy grown-up book, say, Jodi Picoult? Not worth the time it takes to reread in the way that a fluffy YA book would be, like Caroline B. Cooney. Ditto a mediocre non-fluffy grown-up book. I’m less likely to reread a grown-up book once, and that makes me less likely to reread it enough times that it becomes a comfort read that I return to even though I know it’s not the best book in the world.

3. Teh blogz, posting. Although I would like to say the blog has been an unmixed good, it does have the very occasional downside. When I reread, that’s time spent on a book I can’t review here, and then I feel guilty. Of course since I have posted almost nothing in the past few weeks anyway, y’all probably wouldn’t notice the difference. (By the way, one really good excuse for me not posting much lately is that I’ve been reading a bunch of books published by the place where I work, and I feel I can’t ethically review them without disclosing I work for their publisher, and I don’t want to do that because I want to keep the blog separate from the job.)

3a. Teh blogz, reading. Y’all are very persuasive! I always have a huge list of new books to read. When I am at the library and not sure what to read next, I’m more inclined now than I once was to look for new books I know about because of y’all, rather than old books I might consider revisiting.

4. Nonfiction. I have been reading a lot more nonfiction the past few years than in my previous existence. The difficulty is that I keep discovering pockets of information about which I know absolutely nothing, and then I feel urgently I must learn everything about them, or at least enough about them to carry on a halfway intelligent conversation (halfway intelligent meaning that I know enough to know what details I don’t know). All the nonfiction books now piled around my bedroom gaze at me reproachfully, and even if I secretly want to be rereading Tam Lin, I feel my time would be better spent in learning about the history of the Supreme Court or the colonization of Liberia.

All of these are valid reasons. I don’t feel particularly guilty about any of them. Set against them, though, is the inescapable fact that I am rereading The Secret History for the fourth time since July 2010, and dammit, it’s holding up! My resentment of life for getting in the way of my reading The Secret History is just as ferocious now as it was the first through fourth times I read it. But somehow it took me over four years to reread The Secret History the first time! What? All the above-mentioned reasons kept me from rereading a book that is fast becoming one of my favorite books of all time.

There is a particular pleasure in rereading that original reading doesn’t provide. You already have the outline of the book sketched out in your head, which means that when the details fill in, your mind has somewhere to put them in the grand scheme of things. I’ve compared reading the end to putting together the edge pieces of a puzzle first; rereading is like that, only more. As I reread The Secret History, I know enough about what’s coming to be able to give over my mind to admiring Tartt’s artistry. What tricks does she employ to make her characters so mesmerizing? How can she possibly make it seem that a homicide is grand and necessary, and the real shabbiness would be in insisting on the intrinsic value of a narrow, bigoted life? And after she’s accomplished that quite thoroughly, how does she, so elegantly and gradually, jab holes in the certainty she instilled in the reader, character by character, until only one character still holds utterly to the necessity of the murder? And how can that one character remain the one whose approval the reader wants, the one the reader somehow still wants to believe in?

Except that can’t be all of the reason. I don’t reread Tam Lin to marvel in Pamela Dean’s exceptional plotting and beautiful writing. The greater portion of my rereading must be rooted in enjoyment, and the enjoyment of rereading must possess a quality that the enjoyment of original reading does not possess. The thing I said above is part of it, but if I’m honest, I must admit it’s not the greater part. I don’t know what the greater part is!

How about it, my lovelies? What is the greater part? Whence the delight in revisiting an old favorite? Have I amply covered the reasons for not rereading? What’s good and bad about rereading? If you don’t like to reread, why don’t you? If you do like to reread, what factors go into your decision to reread an old book rather than reading a new one? Tell me everything.

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60 thoughts on “Rereading

  1. I love re-reading and I do engage in it quite a bit. And as you are talking about Tam Lin, I am looking over at my copy on my desk excited that I purchased it because someone awesome (you) enjoys it!

    I actually post reviews of books that I have re-read. I’m re-reading Name of the Wind on audio when I work out, and while I have a print review of it, I don’t have an audio review, so of course I will post an audio review and my thoughts on it this time around.

    • I hope you like it! It can be a little pretentious in spots, but it’s a really good read. I’m in favor of reviewing rereads, but once I’ve reviewed a book once I feel like I shouldn’t review it again. And I never do audiobooks — I can’t read the end of an audiobook!

  2. I have a select few books in re-read rotation. I like knowing the plot basics, so I can concentrate more on technique and bits I never noticed before that turn out to be important. (Knowing the ending in advance is anything but a spoiler for me. Like you, only different!)

    Sometimes I just want to visit an old friend, who won’t surprise me in a bad way or let me down.

    I also like realizing that in the years that have passed since the last read, I’ve changed in ways that make the book even better.

    Sometimes I’m in the mood for a particular experience, and I know the right re-read will deliver.

    Of course, every re-read is time lost for reading something new and fabulous, but so what? There’s still plenty of time overall (I hope!).

    • I agree! There’s tons of time to read all the books in! (Sort of — there’s a lot of books out there in the world, but there are a lot of them I don’t want to read.) It’s lovely revisiting an old familiar friend.

  3. I have only reread one book. Ever. (Well, maybe not ever ever, but I can only remember one, ergo). I think I have a fear complex. I am afraid I’m going to miss out on some immense awesome in new books by reading the same books over and over again, as life is short and you can only fit so many books into that time.

    I am also afraid that I won’t like the book as much the second time around. The plot twist won’t be so twisty. The sad moments so sad. The lovey moments so lovey. etc. etc.

    So those are my lame reasons for not rereading. I am a scaredy cat.

    • Okay, how can that be true? If you only ever read a book once, why do you ever buy books? And if you love a book a lot, how can you not want to have the experience again? There are tons and tons of books that are bad, and you can leave all of those out of your life and spend those hours rereading books you loved!

      Maybe give it a month? Try a month where you reread books?

  4. Point #1? Is so totally me. I miss my personal library, dammit! I miss browsing the shelves and plucking books off them so I can flip through and look at my favourite bits. I miss thinking, “Oh, I want to read FALL ON YOUR KNEES today” and being able to actually read FALL ON YOUR KNEES today, instead of whenever the library can give it to me, by which point I will of course no longer feel like reading it (which is a true story).

    I plan to reread lots and lots and lots and lots and lots once I’m back in Canada. I mostly love rereading because I read for character, and it gives me another chance to hang out with characters I love. I also love being able to pick up on all the subtle little bits of foreshadowing, or fully understand the telling scenes that really get at the heart of why a character is the way she is, or even just revisit the bit that never fails to make me giggle (or weep). Some books are just better when you know everything that’s coming.

    I still review rereads, though I feel a bit odd about reviewing the ones I’ve already discussed on my blog. Sometimes, I just want to say all the same things I said before. I’ve decided that this month, when I reread my absolute favourite books, I’ll only do short, gushy, ungrammatical reviews. Or I’ll just post a ton of strange asides. I’ve said quasi-intelligent things about them twice before. People don’t need to hear all that again. I don’t think I can just let them pass by unremarked-upon, though, so gushing it is.

    • YES! I especially miss being able to pick up something awesome from when I was younger, like an Edward Eager book or Indian Captive, and spend a few nostalgic hours with it.

      So yeah, allllll books are better when you know everything that’s coming. That is my philosophy!

  5. Ah, what a great post! I used to reread a lot. Now I hardly do at all. Which is sad. For many of the same reasons you list- my TBR is tons and tons longer now, thanks to all the bloggers who add to it! And posting takes time from reading, and other things in life (garden, kids etc). But rereading can be such a comfort, and a delight. I discover so much more in a reread because I’m not focused on just following the plot, and sometimes that can be so wonderful… I wish I had more time to revisit books but sadly I can’t even remember the last one.

    • I can always remember the last one, but increasingly it’s three or four weeks back, or even longer. Before book blogging, I was rereading at least once a week (or maybe I’m exaggerating it in my mind).

  6. I have noticed that I haven’t been rereading as much lately, especially since I keep track of my books on goodreads, and of course because of blogging. I wonder if it’s because I keep reading about so many interesting books or because I feel like I have to race to keep up with everyone else? I hope I’m not subconsciously becoming a competitive reading — it’s supposed to be FUN.

    I mostly reread these days if it’s a book group selection (and sometimes I don’t if I didn’t enjoy it much the first time around). I also like rereads on audio in the car — the radio becomes so tiresome around here, and I find rereads to be comforting — also, because I already know the ending, I can take my time and enjoy it without having to hurry up and find out what happens. Of course some books take forever since I don’t drive that much. I used to upload them onto my ipod as well, which was great for walking, but lately my itunes account is giving me a hard time, le sigh.

    • Oo, I also hope I’m not becoming subconsciously competitive. If I’m going to be competitive (and I do try not to be), I should at least be aware of it. :p

      I don’t drive anymore, alas! but when I did, I liked playing music real loud and singing along with it. I could have always listened to audiobooks but I preferred to sing loudly. :p

  7. I still reread a lot. I probably always will. I’m grown-up enough now to have a big house with kids, so I have all my books. And a lot of books of my siblings that I accidentally acquired while moving out of my mom’s house….

    Like you I’ll grab a book to read while brushing my teeth or boiling water or whatever. I do review book I reread, but only if I reread them all the way though; dipping back through my favorite parts or reading through just for one character or story line doesn’t usually count. On my librarything account, I have a tag for the year that I read a book, so if I reread it often, it has several years listed. If I reread it several times during a year, I figure it’s all part of the same re-read session, though.

    Sometimes I reread series books, to gear up for the next book. Or because the next book reminded me of how I liked the earlier ones. Series books tend to be fairly lightweight though, so they don’t demand much more than kidlit used to (with some exceptions, such as Bujold).

    • Oh, yes! I love, love, love dipping into books for one storyline or just little moments that are good. A really favorite book is one of those books where dipping into it always turns into reading it over entirely. πŸ™‚

  8. I love re-reading books, that’s why I have bookcases full of books I’ve already read, waiting patiently for when I’m in the right mood to re-read them (otherwise I’d donate them to a charity shop to make room for all of those new books I want to read too). But I don’t re-read many books in a year – too many books, too little time.

    Books currently on my re-read list:
    A Short History of Tractors in the Ukraine by Marina Lewycka
    The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
    1984 by George Orwell
    Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
    The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
    Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban (non-fic)

    I won’t get through half of these this year.
    I do re-read non-fiction, too.

    • See, I’m wayyyy less likely to reread nonfiction. Unless it’s particularly wonderful, I rarely reread a nonfiction book. It’s more of a time commitment — same reason I reread lots of kids’ books.

  9. What a lovely post. I associate rereading with work – as a literary critic writing about a book, I often had to read it, or bits of it, over and over. So I don’t reread much now. However, I am a huge re-listener. I love audio books and buy them expressly for the purpose of listening to them repeatedly. It’s pure comfort, knowing the story, feeling relaxed because I don’t have to be vigilant. I tend towards BBC dramatisations of crime classics – Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie, Francis Durbridge. Sheer relaxation.

    • I’m sad that you have stressy associations with rereading. Might you try a few light rereads? A few light rereads and then see if it creates more positive association. Though BBC miniserieses are also pleasant. πŸ™‚

  10. I love rereading too, as you know! But my attempts to increase my rereading so far this year are not going so well. Do you know what my major problem is? I try my best to keep my white: POC author reading ratio at 1:1, but in the past, almost all of my reads were white authors. So when I contemplate rereading, it’s almost all white authors, which skews my ratio! >:| I’m contemplating not having rereads count for my ratio, but that feels like cheating. I don’t know. It’s kind of driving me crazy. That, and my library is so good that I constantly have piles of new books around me with their deadly siren call. *sigh* But, when I do reread books, I totally post about them! Why wouldn’t I? And I think that you should too.

    Also, even though I moved months ago, due to a series of unfortunate events, almost all of my books are STILL in their boxes. *sob*

    • I am back to say that typing out my current roadblock to rereading makes it seem utterly ridiculous. I’m reading more POC authors for lots of good reasons, and none of those reasons are going to suffer if I don’t ‘count’ my rereads. So to hell with it: I shall reread whatever books I wish and not put them in the ratio! I feel omnipotent!

      (Of course, now I want to grab The Secret History off my shelves but CAN’T because it’s in a stupid box.)

      • I was going to say, your roadblock is not a reasonable roadblock! Your roadblock should be removed and ignored! I hope you swiftly find the box containing The Secret History because it’s a hella amazing reread.

  11. Since I started the blog 4 years ago, I have only reread one book, and I didn’t bother posting about it. I just feel like I have no time to reread because there are so many books waiting for review, and I am always behind. The larger problem is that I have a ton ( and I do mean a ton) of unread books that I have bought based on recommendations from the blogs and other sources, and they don’t get read either. I feel like the blog and the reading are a job, and when I get right down to the nitty-gritty of it, and try to explain that to people, they look at me like I am crazy. Why would you do all this and not get paid? Why would you consider this a job? If they are not bloggers, they just don’t believe it or understand it. This has gone way off-topic, but I guess I mean to say that I almost never reread, for a myriad of reasons, so I can totally sympathize with you. I keep saving books to reread at some point, but I pretty much know it will never happen.

    • I seriously cannot fathom that amount of rereading. That is not nearly enough rereading to get me through a quarter of a year, let alone four whole entire years. But I sympathize with the feeling of obligation that happens with book blogs. :/

  12. I reread for all the reasons you and J.G. mention (although J.G. shares my initials, I’m almost sure that wasn’t me), plus several more, like sometimes I’m just in the mood for a book and want to be in that world, with those characters. Sometimes I want to hear the music play in my head that I associate with a particular book. Sometimes I do feel like I might have missed something and want a fuller experience of the book, filling in the gaps, as I think you put it.

    I used to talk to my students about rereading when we discussed the college “common book,” the one every incoming first-year student and anyone teaching the first-year classes was supposed to read. “I’ve only read this book once,” I’d say, “so we can talk about it pretty much on the level of equals. The rest of the literature I’ve assigned is stuff that I’ve read and re-read for years, so I have a lot of things to tell you and ask you about it.” I will (and did) admit to being a bit disingenuous with this speech, but I think it does point out something that reluctant readers miss–that once through something rarely gives you much to say about it.

    • I like that speech! I would have been pleased if one of my professors had given my class that speech. When we had our “freshman reads” program my first year of college, the professor who led my discussion seminar did not give that speech. At all. In fact he was sort of a jerk about it. In fairness, the book was Fast Food Nation and we were all jealous that the kids a few years later were going to get to read Persepolis.

  13. Totally agree with so many of these points, especially #3. Pre-blogging, I used to reread old favourites over and over again. But that was partially from not having enough recommendations for new books. Now I have so many recommendations for new books, that I don’t have time to reread old favourites. I’ve been trying to make an effort to reread books in the past year, but at times I feel like I’m wasting good reading hours that could have gone towards something new and blog-post worthy. Especially since I only read 1-2 books a week.

    On the upside – so glad to hear you’re still loving your job!

    • I am so loving my job!

      I totally agree with the lack of recommendations thing. I remember right before I started book blogging, I felt like I had read all the good fiction the world had to offer. I now realize that was entirely insane.

  14. I find that there’s rereading and rereading. That is, there’s grabbing Magic By the Lake or its grown-up equivalent (which to me would be something like Brat Farrar) and zipping through it, which I do all the time. Then there’s the stack of classics that I like enough to reread every two years or so, usually when I’m on vacation and have an attention span. And then there’s the ever-growing stack of books that I read when I was a teenager and have claimed to have read ever since, but that I don’t actually remember. If you read War and Peace when you’re fifteen and retain nothing except for Natasha bursting into one room after another, saying “The island of Madagascar,” and leaving again, plus a little bit of nonsense about numerology, you’re pretty much obligated to reread it, which makes rereading not so fun.

    Oh, and I have a book to recommend, if you haven’t already read it: The Last Samurai, by Helen DeWitt. It’s not actually about a samurai, and it’s very funny and chock full of Oxford and academia and people reading Homer in the original.

    • Oh, Brat Farrar. I have to read Brat Farrar! Dorothy Sayers is on my comfort reads list, even though her books require slightly more brain commitment than Magic by the Lake. :p

      I love your War and Peace example, seriously. I have so many books that I feel like that about, especially books I read for high school English classes.

      I haven’t read The Last Samurai, and very much thank you!

  15. This is a big conundrum for me, too. Last year, I did really well with rereading by keeping a reread book at my office and reading it at lunch, which was absolutely perfect, as I didn’t feel like I was giving up massive amounts of reading time. But then I got to a point where I felt like I had too many books on the go, so I gave it up.

    So I’m at a loss because I have all these unread books in my house and on my list and at the library calling out to me, and rereading something feels like giving up time for those books. Maybe I’ll go back to that lunchtime system. It was working really well. Maybe it’s just a question of not rereading a difficult book at work while I’m reading a difficult book at home. I think that’s what tipped me over into stress-ville last year. Hmmm…

    • Oh, yeah, I tried to compromise on the rereads/new reads thing by doing both at once, but all that ended up happening was that I felt really schizophrenic about my reading, and nothing ever got finished.

  16. Reading this, I’m no longer surprised that you’ve read Ness’ books several times already!

    I used to re-read quite a lot, but somewhere along the line (possibly when my TBR pile passed 500 books) it began to feel like a guilty pleasure – I should be using all my time to read new things! And blogging, as you say, only exacerbates that feeling. It’s sad, because I used to get a lot out of re-reading – there are always new things you spot – and there *are* books I would like to revisit. Hmm.

    • Hahaha, I know, my diminished rereading seems like an abundance of rereading to people who don’t do a lot of rereading themselves.

      Revisiting books is fabulous. It doesn’t feel like a guilty pleasure to me, it feels like the nice natural thing to do.

  17. This is such a fantastic post – I love your comments about The Secret History! I LOVED it when I read it last summer and really should reread it – such a skillful novel.

    And I totally feel the ‘all my books are back at home’ and the New York Public Library pain. Why are books never where they say they are? This happens to me EVERY time I go in. There is someone in that library who purposely thwarts my reading plans by hiding the books I want to read, I swear! And also the hold system is RIDICULOUS. I have been waiting three months AND COUNTING for a book. I know there are 9 million people in New York and all that but seriously!

    • You should really reread it! It’s going to be just as good the second time around, I promise.

      I was afraid you would be offended by my mean remarks about NYPL. But it’s undeniable. The damn books are never where you want them to be!

  18. See, the thing is, we (at least, I) read for different reasons; it’s the difference between swimming laps for exercise and lazily drifting in a sun-warmed lake. I first-read to stimulate my brain with new knowledge, new characters, new worlds, new ways of thinking; I re-read to relax and dream and revisit and pick up an occasional new thought or description. First reads are adventurous, exciting; re-reads are comforting, peaceful – pure pleasure.

      • I didn’t mean different from YOU – I meant, I first-read and re-read with different motivations. I guess that was such an obvious comment, you thought it must be more complicated!

  19. There are very few books that I reread, and almost all of those are non-fiction, because I don’t enjoy reading a story if I already know exactly what to expect from the plot.

    Though there are some books that I have been wanting to reread, books that I read many years ago and loved, but it’s hard to make the time to reread when there are so many new books that I still want to get to.

    It’s funny that you mention Magic by the Lake because I just found a copy of the this book at the second-hand bookstore, which I’m really excited about. I’m going to start reading with my son soon.

    • Oh, yes, reading a book with someone new is always a lovely experience. I read to my little sister for years when we were growing up, and I always discovered new things in my old favorites, when I read them to her.

  20. Great topic! I associate rereading with childhood book-famine, so I don’t often do it. I like Mumsy’s description of having different experiences with first reads and re-reads. I find that no book is really the same when reread, so there is no such thing as a “reliable pleasure” in it for me, no old friends. I like the idea of a second reading being relaxing, but for me it feels a bit like gnawing a dry bone or boiling down shoe leather. One reason not to reread that you may have missed (unless it goes with Teh Blogs, Reading) is the shortness of one’s mortal sojourn. My sense of that is probably a lot what makes me such restless reader.

    I do reread:

    –books whose plots I have completely forgotten, which makes it like a first time read all over again.

    –my small personal cannon (Narnia, Jane Eyre, Le Guin, Hamlet and maybe a dozen others. Any work whose word-and-idea-craft I find so bewitching that each reading opens it out in such dramatic ways that it becomes almost as fresh to me as an wholly unfamiliar book. These are not so much like old friends as years-apart torrid tryst-parners)

    –an audio version of a book, when I have read the paper version.

    –books I want to read aloud with my husband.

    –books I like so much that after reading them the first time I immediately turn right back to the beginning and read them a second time (but that is more like an extended first read).

    –nonfiction, for review.

    • See, this is interesting, you and Litlove both say that you have negative associations with rereading and that stops you enjoying it. Your description of rereading is excessively unpleasant. :p

      The mortal sojourn thing doesn’t hold water for me — not because it’s not true, but because there are so many crap books out there. Tons and tons and tons of terrible books. Rereads are nice palate cleansers because they are reliably good books, and you can have them whenever you like, even if the other two books you read that week were among the large, large number of terrible books out there in the world.

  21. I too love to re-read but I don’t have much luck with it anymore. There were days when I just felt like say, Pride & Prejudice, and would pick it up and happily read, close the last page, sigh, and be happy. Now, I start getting nervous that I’ve got too many new books to read and way too many on my TBR to get any joy from re-read. I need a new mindset about that. Pre-blogging was so much easier on the reading and re-reading.

    Glad to hear the job is going well!

    • What a shame that you’re not able to enjoy it anymore. Give yourself permission, say I! And worry about the unread books after. There’s a mountain of unread books whether you reread or don’t, trust me. :p

  22. I love to reread. So far this year I’ve reread a ton of books. Rereading is almost like a comfort food and I don’t feel guilty for indulging in it. I also reread to try and figure out a special plot twist, the writing structure, or just the hope of some of the writer’s talents rubbing off the page onto me.

    I had no idea that NYPL was so slow on hold requests.

    • Yayyy, nice to hear from other rabid rereaders. I do sometimes reread to figure out the plot if I’ve missed things the first time, as I very frequently do.

      Oh, yeah, the NYPL, I don’t know if it’s down to budget cuts or what, but hold requests are, let us say, not their top priority.

  23. ‘A fluffy grown-up book, say, Jodi Picoult? Not worth the time it takes to reread in the way that a fluffy YA book would be’ – yes I’m finding this. And in adulthood I tend to base whether I’ll keep a book I enjoyed or not partly on its fluffiness, so only the ‘important’ books get to stay, whereas in teenagerhood it was more likely that funny, fluffy books would stay and get read over and over.

    I really want to start rereading again, because it’s the books that I reread that I think really shape me and help me get in touch with what is really important to me in fiction (Jane Eyre, The Exiles, to provide two very different example). And with back logs of reviews to write and fill the blogz with I should have time for re-reading. It’s just that somewhere in the back of my head there is always a voice going ‘You’re 26 now, you’re not going to live forever and you haven’t even read X, Y, Z. Agh!’ marching me on.

    • That’s an excellent observation about fluffiness in YA vs adult books. I’m exactly the same way, now that you mention it. The grown-up books have to be more than the kids’ books ever had to be.

      I have that voice too but I silence it firmly. It’s just trying to stress me out, and it knows as well as I do that nobody could read everything ever written, even before the explosion of publishing in modern times.

  24. Like you, I used to re-read all the time. Now I pretty much only do it when I’m sick and needing comfort. But when I do, I blog about it! I think you should, too — maybe you’re re-reading books we should really hear about.

    I read, in general, because I want to know more about people. In books, whether fiction or non-, I get to know human beings better, sometimes in ways I never would otherwise. When I re-read, I deepen that acquaintance, usually with people I really liked the first time (and those people include the implied author.)

    • I promise I’m not keeping things from you, Other Jenny! The only time I reread and don’t blog about it is if I’ve already written about that book, or if the book is so amazing I can’t think what to say about it.

      I like the idea of wanting to spend time with the characters again, but I’m not sure that’s my motive in general. I reread a lot of books I liked as a kid, and not because their characters are always so beautifully drawn. Maybe it’s because I like feeling like the person I was when I read the books the first time, when I was little and things were, you know, simpler.

  25. I used to re-read a lot, before I started the new book a week meme a few years ago and consciously tried to read new stuff (and try new authors, too). My re-reads tend to be the things I read avidly as a teen – detective fiction, mostly – but because I have most of my books in storage I have a limited stock of stuff at home. I don’t tend to re-read non-fiction, either, unless I want to look up something, or it has been a particularly interesting book.

    I agree with Memory that sometimes you just want to re-read something NOW and it’s so frustrating to know that you have the book but can’t find it. I can see myself getting second copies of lots of things for my Kindle…

  26. Yes yes yes, most especially to 3 and 3a. 3 most of all. I find myself subconsciously avoiding chunksters, too, because they take longer to read and therefore would leave me lacking in books to review while I read them. Which is silly! I also run into the “so many books, so little time” thing. With an ever-growing TBR list and pile, it’s hard to revisit a book I’ve already read.

  27. I used to re-read over half of the time too and I’ve stopped for many of the same reasons that you have (except for the job part). I miss it. I’m going to start doing it more again — just as soon as I get through some of these other shiny new books. πŸ˜‰

  28. I have maintained a re-read shelf in my growing book collection. Books are flagged for various reasons to be re-read: multi-layered meanings, beautiful prose, memorable/likable characters. What usually convinces me to mark a book for re-read is how it pulls my heartsring and triggers emotional provocation.

    That said, some of the books I read on rotation are The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley, and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Re-reads rough accounts for 10% of my reading in a year.

  29. I don’t know why I don’t reread more. There are some books I would like to re-read, but they don’t generally draw me as much as a possibility of a new book. In that case, you’d think I’d not PURCHASE so many books, but I do! I think I just like having well-loved books NEAR me, just in case I need to read them again. It’s kind of like a security blanket, I guess. It just makes me feel whole to have my happy reading history with me, even if I don’t need to lean on it too often.

    I have The Secret History. Every time I pick it up to read, I read the back cover, am reminded again of The Skulls, and put it back down. But one day, I shall get over this aversion and read it

  30. I enjoy rereading although like you I find myself doing it less now that I blog. I’m trying to make a more serious effort at rereading this year because I really do enjoy revisiting old favorites. And there is really nothing like a comfort read for me πŸ™‚ I’m also a series kind of gal so rereading allows for me to revisit a series that I haven’t read in awhile and then continue on with it. Great post!

  31. Pingback: The Secret History by Donna Tartt | A Good Stopping Point

  32. Pingback: on re-reading… | a writer's blog

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