My Thoughts on Re-Reading

Posted June 13, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I’m not sure how I feel about re-reading books; as a book lover I have to face the facts that I’m never going to read all the books I want to read. So why would I waste time re-reading a book? Sometimes there are books with so many layers that you need to re-read them just to explore the plot and the themes deeper and sometimes it’s just a matter of comfort. For the past three years I’ve been re-reading Frankenstein ever year; simply because I love this book and yet there is still so much in the book to discover. This year I haven’t felt the need to re-read it, yet. So I’ve been questioning the idea of ‘to re-read or not to re-read?’

There are some books I still would like to re-read; The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut come to mind but sometimes I think there are too many books worth reading to go back to a book. I know there will always be books I will want to re-read and some I will read again but I’m not sure how I feel about the whole concept. I’ve never understood the idea of people completing a book then going back to the same book again straight away. Having said that, I often try to read in a different genre or style after a reading a book because I worry I would get bored with an author or genre if I fully entrench myself. I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on re-reading.

0 responses to “My Thoughts on Re-Reading

  1. I don’t re-read a lot because, like you said, there are just too many books that haven’t been read yet.  I do have my favorites but I’m hesitant to re-read them because many were read years ago and I want to remember them fondly and not spoil them by the possibility of disliking a second reading. People who finish a book and then immediately re-read it (sometimes multiple times) are confusing to me; I just don’t see the appeal.  But I know there are books that you can get something new from each time you read them, so I’m beginning to budge a bit on my no re-reading policy because I can admit there are pros to it.  Still, re-reading isn’t that important to me.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, I’ve only been re-reading Frankenstein cuz I adore it and still so much in it but it might be every few years rather than every year now

  2. Jillian

    “The best effect of writing…often depends on circumstances much as pictures depend on light and juxtaposition.” – George Eliot

    Your life changes literature. Deaths in the family change who you are. Births in the family change who you are. Life experience alters the way you reflect on a character or thesis within a book. The library of knowledge and experience you build in your mind as you pour through literature changes the way you see. When you have read fifty works you read differently than you did when you had never read anything. The authors draw from one another’s works, and you begin to see that.

    You might read Pride & Prejudice through Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes and get an entirely different read immediately after, through Charlotte Lucas’s eyes. You might read The Sound and the Fury at twenty and not get it, then read it at fifty and understand the nuances you couldn’t see thirty years prior.

    Re-reading is as important as reading.

  3. Ryan

    I’m a huge rereader.  There are books that I have read 5-10 time, and will probably read a few more times before I’m done.  I still read a lot of new books, and since I’ve started the blog, I don’t reread as much as I used to.  

    I guess the way I look at it is if I loved the story and the characters the first time around, why would I not want to revisit them.  Sometimes it can be as if you are visiting good friends.

  4. FBT

    The only time I’ve finished a book and started re-reading it straight away was when I first read Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman. I just fell in such love with it I wanted to go back into that world and relive all the emotions again. I feel the same way each time I finish it. The last sentence breaks my heart every time – and I just want to keep reliving that.

    Having said that, I’ve re-read a lot of books because I either want to relive the emotions, laugh at the jokes again or just because the language is so beautiful. This year I’m re-reading all of Oscar Wilde’s works because it’s been a while and I’ll never get tired of them. And I used to re-read Macbeth by Shakespeare each year, but can’t recall why I stopped… Oh yah, I was constantly quoting from it and it annoyed people, so I thought I’d give it a rest for a while.

  5. I very rarely reread – mostly because I retain a clear memory of plots and characters so it seems superfluous. The only books I have reread are a handful that I read in highschool to see what they were actually like without having to pick them apart.

  6. sally906

    I rarely reread the only exceptions are my childhood favourites – Laura Ingells Wilder’s Little House series, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Series, Secret Garden, and The Little White horse to name a few are all stories I’ll read over and over. On the adult side anything by John Whyndham is up for a reread – especially the Day of the Triffids.

  7. Davs

    There are a few books that I re-read and plan to re-read again and again. I guess just because they are my favorites for one reason or another and I want to revisit the feeling they gave me. Jane Eyre, A Confederacy of Dunces, The Glass Castle *I listened to on audio twice in a row, Breakfast of Champions, Pride and Prejudice, The Passage, The Fountainhead, and the short story ‘Teddy’ from J.D. Salinger’s book ‘Nine Stories’ are the ones I can think of just off the top of my head.

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