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The Pleasures of Rereading

December 13, 2010


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As much as I love Nick Hornby’s writing about reading, there is one thing on which I must respectfully disagree with him: I love rereading.

Once upon a time, long before I discovered book blogging, I reread far more frequently than I do now. When I was looking back over this year, I was ashamed to find that I’ve only reread 10 books…has my pattern really changed that much? Last year, I began rereading Laurie King’s Mary Russell series (if you haven’t yet treated yourselves to these, pick up The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and thank me later), but I haven’t read any but the newest one this year! And where are the Peter Wimsey books I could have sworn I’d picked up? And only one Jane Austen? Really? To be fair, that total of 10 is a bit misleading; sometimes, I don’t bother rereading an *entire* book but just reread bits and pieces. In that case, I of course don’t count it on my books read list, but it lets me revisit a favourite for a bit of a boost.

Still, this hasn’t been the best year to show that I am in fact a passionate rereader. You’ll just have to trust me. I cannot imagine my life with rereading; it would be like never being able to talk with my friends again. What would I DO if I couldn’t go back to old favourites? Rereading is a security blanket for me, and I suspect I could have ended the several reading slumps I experienced this year much more quickly by just getting lost in a well-love, previously-read book (instead, my focus this year was on reading more of authors I’ve already loved…which has a similar idea behind it at least). As a child, I reread my favourites over and over, and while as an adult I’m not quite so frequent a rereader, I’d be willing to bet I’ve still read some books first discovered as a teen upwards of 5 times, perhaps edging towards 10.

I believe that part of my joy from rereading is based on what I really love in books: characters and marvelous writing. So getting to re-connect with a character is one of the best gifts of rereading; sometimes they’re different than I remember, sometimes they’re the same, but they’re always there, waiting patiently for me. And getting to once again luxuriate in a favourite author’s prose? It’s like slipping into a hot tub at the end of a long day: soothing and delicious. The thing is, the first time I’m reading a book, no matter how much I love it, I’m always aware that it has the potential to go wrong. What if, at the last second, the author decides to do something I completely disagree with? I can never completely relax. Whereas, upon revisiting a beloved book, I already know that I’m in good hands, that there aren’t going to be any nasty surprises to ruin things, and therefore I can become even more immersed in the reading experience.

Rereading allows me to see how interactive reading truly is; depending on where I am in life, I might interpret a character in an entirely different way. I first read Emma when I was 12 or 13. At the time, I loathed her; I thought she was an insufferable little twit who didn’t deserve her good fortune. But then, when I revisited it, I began to see things differently; I saw how her quickness to judge and her too firm resolve that her own opinions were always right created problems and mischief. I still didn’t really like her all that much, but I no longer saw her as horrid; instead, I just saw her as delusional and quite comic. And I loved the final, climactic scene…I thought it was much more emotional than the one in Pride and Prejudice. In 2008, I reread Emma again, when going through a particularly difficult time. And suddenly, I loved Emma. I saw her as a young girl who makes mistakes, but who is able to correct them. Even though they feel like horribly huge mistakes at the time, none of them ruin any lives; occasionally, she has to suffer through uncomfortable scenes to set things right, but she manages to do so. For the first time, I truly identified with Emma, and I thanked Jane Austen for giving me a book with such hope for the future. Emma’s happy ending became a promise that I too could have a happy ending, despite all my silly blunders. It was a book for me to cling to. I chose Emma in part because it’s a book I’ve often seen mentioned as better on the second time around, but I could have chosen others. Other books I didn’t like all that much on first reading and loved on the reread that jump to mind include American Gods and The Turn of the Screw.

Those latter ones illustrate another point about rereading; since I already know where the author is going, I can admire how s/he gets there. I tend to notice more upon each rereading; I already have the big-picture stuff of the book down, so I can stop and take in the details. It’s rather like visiting a city once, when you’re still learning how to get around and trying to track where you are, versus returning enough times that you can saunter around without any fear. When my brain isn’t caught up with ideas of plot, it can play with other things. And this brings up a rather odd fact: I adore rereading mysteries. And I’m not just talking about ones like Laurie King’s or Dorothy Sayer’s, which are focused at least as much on character as they are on the plot. No, I love rereading Agatha Christie style whodunnits. It’s such fun, knowing who the killer is, to see the careful way she gives you real clues and red herrings! Not to mention watching the killer try to escape notice. ;)

I will say that, in general, I reread more older stuff than contemporary literature (and my rereading is almost exclusive to fiction). The exception is my very favourite authors, like Neil Gaiman and A.S. Byatt and Laurie King, whose works I could reread a hundred times and still have more to discover. I suspect in the next few years, though, I’ll have several contemporary authors to add to that list; my tendency to reread classics isn’t deliberate and I’d like to change things a bit. I already have a few hunches I want to follow up!

To be honest, if I had to choose today between *only* rereading or *never* rereading again, I would choose to spend the rest of my life rereading. And that choice would only take a nanosecond. That’s how important it is to me, and how unimaginable I find a world in which I can’t reconnect with books I’ve loved in the past. Next year, I plan to focus far more on getting back into the rereading habit, and I think it’d be neat to do posts about the books I end up revisiting. I’ll have to figure out the best way to talk about them! :)

How do you feel about rereading? If you had to choose between only reading new-to-you books or only rereading, which would you do? Do you re-watch movies or TV shows? (I do! Frequently!)

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122 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2010 6:03 am

    First: that’s one of the hottest pictures ever.
    Second: I’m not a big rereader. I’m not against it; I just find that I have too many stories to
    “get to” that I seldom look back. I’ve reread a few of Hesse’s books, though and I’m slowly rereading books as I read them to my son. I think, for me, rereading is something I tend to do at different intervals of life, like “high school” “college” “thirties” and such, just to see if my perspective has changed.

    • December 15, 2010 6:42 pm

      Isn’t it a fun picture? And the different intervals approach makes definite sense. :)

  2. December 13, 2010 6:05 am

    I reread a fair bit more than you do; however, I have had an unexpectedly long run of new books recently :)

    This year I reread all The Barchester Chronicles and all of David Mitchell’s books (and I’m slowly making my way through Haruki Murakami’s works for the second time).

    I think when I was younger (and poorer), I tended to reread more, but now I can afford to buy more books… Also, perhaps blogging makes a difference as there are always posts on books which sound good ;)

    • December 15, 2010 6:43 pm

      See, if I didn’t have access to such marvelous libraries, I feel like I’d reread more. ;)

      I’m four books in to my first reading of the Barchester books: loved them all, so I imagine a reread would be lovely. And I’ve barely dipped my toe in Murakami’s backlist…I think I’ve only read three, maybe four, of his books!

  3. December 13, 2010 6:09 am

    I enjoy rereading for the same reasons you mention, and it’s been such a pleasure this year to revisit some favorites I hadn’t read for 10 years or more. I do sometimes worry that on a second read some of the magic will have worn off, but so far it hasn’t happened.

    I think that, like you, I’ve only reread 10 books this year, which is a lot less than I used to, but there are so many new-to-me books that I want to read as well. It’s hard to balance those two desires. And I’m not sure which I would choose if I could only have first reads or rereads. I’d probably go with rereads because at least I would get a sure thing in my reading, but oh, what a tough choice!

    • December 15, 2010 6:44 pm

      I worry sometimes too: I’m thinking of doing a follow-up post entitled The Perils of Rereading. ;)

      I’m aiming for at least 3 rereads/month next year. Considering the amount I read, that’ll be a bit over 10% of my reading, which is still a bit lower than I’d like in the long run, but for baby steps it’ll work!

  4. December 13, 2010 6:11 am

    I love rereading too and faced with a choice between only rereading or only reading new books, my decision would be the same as yours! Since I started blogging though, I’ve definitely noticed a big change in the way I read. I’ve only reread two or three books this year, whereas in the past a much larger percentage of my reading would be rereads. Like you, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to find time to revisit some old favourites in 2011.

    • December 15, 2010 6:45 pm

      Blogging is insidious that way, isn’t it?! Not that I’m complaining about all of the great new authors I’ve discovered. :)

  5. December 13, 2010 6:23 am

    For every three or four new books I read, I reread an old favourite though, like you, sometimes my rereading just consists of going over favourite passages. There is nothing so comforting as opening a book you know well with characters you already love!

    • December 15, 2010 6:45 pm

      I wish I’d get more consistent about it again! I don’t think I’ll get up to every 3 or 4 for awhile, but as I told Teresa I’m aiming for at least 3 full rereads a month next year.

  6. December 13, 2010 6:53 am

    I too discovered a love for Emma only when I read it as an adult. There is something about her transformation from the meddling girl she was to the more mature woman that she tries to become that appeals to me. The idea that that maturity comes through relationship is pretty powerful to me.

    I love to reread–especially the books I loved when I was 12-18. Austen and the Brontes make my list almost every year.

    • December 15, 2010 6:46 pm

      Agreed re: maturity! You know, I’ve tried rereading Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights, but I liked each less with each reread. Eek! So I’ve stopped for now.

  7. December 13, 2010 6:58 am

    When I reread, I read more sections of books rather than the entire book. I love the way you describe it as “luxuriating” in the writer’s prose because that’s exactly what I love to do. I can focus on details in a reread that I might have completely read through in my haste to finish the book caught up in the plot rather than the words…rereading gives me time to truly appreciate the words, the language, the beauty of writing…
    I would like to reread some of the classics that I last read in high school because I barely remember much about them except the basic storyline…and like you, I know that I will read them differently at this very different stage in my life.

    • December 15, 2010 6:46 pm

      I sometimes do the section thing too Patti! Isn’t it fun to reread books at a different stage of life? It’s almost like having a time machine, lol.

  8. December 13, 2010 7:27 am

    I find myself rereading more now that my kids are getting into their teens and we are reading together. It’s so fun to read with them and hear how they interpret someone like Emma. They are already picking favorites that they know they want to reread.

  9. December 13, 2010 8:01 am

    I had the exact same reaction to Emma when I read it the first time. Upon second reading, I really enjoyed her. She was just a bit oblivious, but well-meaning. I too love to reread and sometimes I read just my favorite scenes also.

    • December 15, 2010 6:47 pm

      I think Emma’s one of those books that really improves on rereading! Funny how we all react the same way. :)

  10. December 13, 2010 8:16 am

    Wow that last bit really interested me! I know that my answer would be the opposite, and I would have made it also in a nanosecond. I’m still ready and waiting to discover the best books out there. Even though it would break my heart to never be able to read A Wrinkle in Time or Harry Potter again. Thankfully no one is making me make that decision ;)

    • December 15, 2010 6:48 pm

      That is interesting! I’m glad no one’s forcing me to make the decision either; I would really miss all the wonderful books that are still out there. lol

  11. December 13, 2010 8:31 am

    I wish I would re-read more (this year, I’ve done no re-reads at all), but I always keep staring at the TBR shelves. I feel the same about traveling: I know I would love to go back to certain places, but what about the rest of the world I haven’t visited yet?

    Tough decisions!

    • December 15, 2010 6:49 pm

      Definitely tough! With travelling, I’m more inclined to seek out new countries. But that’s because I haven’t been to enough places yet! I can’t wait until I’m healthy enough to work; travelling will be my #1 budget priority.

  12. December 13, 2010 8:34 am

    I love rereading, too. It can be such a comfort. And like you said, I always find that at different points in my life I notice different aspects of the story; I see new details I never noticed before. Sadly in the past year or so I’ve only reread a handful of books, far less than ten I’m sure. I don’t think I could choose between only rereading or only new books. That’s so hard!

    • December 15, 2010 6:50 pm

      It is hard! Aren’t we lucky we can do both? :)

  13. December 13, 2010 8:40 am

    I reread all the time. There are times when I can’t afford the book store and don’t want to go to the library, so I will start rereading every book in my personal collection. It’s like being welcomed back by old friends. Stories that should be well known to me often times become completely new. I like what you said about Agatha Christie novels looking for hints and clues she leaves behind that you don’t notice the first time through … I do that too … I do the same thing when I re-watch movies.

    • December 15, 2010 6:51 pm

      I love rewatching movies and TV-on-DVD, knowing where the writers are going! :) And yeah: I never have enough money for bookstores, but I’m all too tempted by the library’s siren call.

  14. December 13, 2010 8:56 am

    I’ve found that since I started my blog I’ve only re-read one book! I tend to re-read when I’m back home on holiday as the first think I do is revisit my bookshelves and pick up books I’d forgotten I had. I do enjoy re-reading especially if I love the characters and I kind of miss re-reading. I’ve been planning to re-read The Secret History by Donna Tartt, but didn’t manage it this year. Maybe next year;P

    • December 15, 2010 6:51 pm

      I swear, blogging is awful on rereading! We need to bring it back. lol

  15. December 13, 2010 9:16 am

    First, love that photo–it’s like something out of Borges! Second, yes, I do reread and yes, it is a comfort. Sometimes I think that I don’t reread often enough…
    Thanks for this most thoughtful post, Eva. Have a good week!

    • December 15, 2010 6:51 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it DS! Thanks for the comment. :)

  16. December 13, 2010 9:18 am

    I loved reading your thoughts on re-reading, Eva :) I enjoyed reading your experience with ‘Emma’ and how your thoughts on the leading character went subtle modifications with every read.

    I don’t do a lot of re-reading these days. I have some favourites which I can count in two hands, which I re-read once in a while. I sometimes take books down from the shelf and re-read bits and pieces of it – especially when I want to use it to post a complex comment :) I have read some of my favourites like ‘Treasure Island’, ‘The Three Musketeers’, ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ many, many times.

    I love re-watching favourite movies many, many times. I watched ‘Alex and Emma’ probably ten times, ‘The Transformers’ (I know people will laugh at me, but I love this movie :)) many times, ‘Casablanca’ a few times, ‘Six Days Seven Nights’ many, many times and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ many, many, many, many times :) Sometimes I re-watch the favourite parts of my favourite movies – for example, when Deborah Kerr sings the Christmas song ‘Noel’ in the movie ‘Black Narcissus’ or when Optimus Prime says at the end of the movie ‘Transformers’ about humans “Like us there is more to them than meets the eye” or the scene from ‘Titanic’ when everyone looks at the old lady, who is telling the story, expectantly and she smiles and asks them “You want to ask did we do it?” and everyone nodds their heads and the old lady says “No, we didn’t. Jack was a professional”.

    • December 15, 2010 6:52 pm

      Thanks Vishy! I rewatch movies far more than I reread books: some I’ve seen so often I have all the dialogue memorised! lol And I won’t laugh at you for Transformers if you don’t laugh at me for my love of The Scorpion King. ;)

      • Vishy permalink
        December 15, 2010 11:24 pm

        I love ‘The Scorpion King’ :) I remember watching ‘The Mummy Returns’ featuring ‘The Scorpion King’ and loving it :)

  17. December 13, 2010 9:34 am

    I think the only time I re-read on a regular basis was when I was a child and therefore my book spending habit was almost non-existant. I rarely do now although sometimes I keep a book because I think I will re-read it in a few years, The Road and Midnights Children are two examples.

    • December 15, 2010 6:53 pm

      Rushdie is definitely a great rereading choice, isn’t he?! Also, I think my tiny allowance also impacted my sometimes obsessive rereading as a child. ;)

  18. December 13, 2010 9:56 am

    I used to reread a lot before I started book blogging, but now that I know of so many fantastic books out there (and since I’ve starting keeping a list of them) I feel like I don’t have the time to reread the books I love. And because I don’t feel like I have time to reread books, I often find myself wondering what’s the point of having a personal library of books I have read in my home.

    • December 15, 2010 6:54 pm

      The point of a personal library is tricky! I think I’d want to be surrounded by old friends even if I never reread, but I do like keeping my owned books to a (relative) minimum.

  19. December 13, 2010 10:48 am

    I love rereading and rewatching texts and films with a different interpretation in mind—for instance, I recently rewatched The Little Mermaid while trying to focus on Ariel as transhuman. And I love rereading and catching things I wouldn’t have caught on the first time around; I’ve been meaning to reread Harry Potter for that very purpose.

    But yeah, I haven’t been rereading a lot since I started book blogging; I usually prefer to wait to reread something until I’ve forgotten enough about it to enjoy it again, and writing reviews make it a bit harder to forget these days, heh.

    • December 15, 2010 6:55 pm

      That’s a fun perspective on Little Mermaid! :)

      I find it takes about a year for a book to enter ‘hazy’ territory for me, and about three or four years for me to (usually) be super-interested in rereading it.

  20. December 13, 2010 10:56 am

    I am also a rereader, though, like you, the amount of books I reread has gone down since I started book blogging. I’ve discovered the joys of rereading via audio, and plan to do more of that in 2011.

    • December 15, 2010 6:55 pm

      Rereading via audio is such fun! I originally included something about that in my post, but I think I deleted it due to space issues. lol

  21. December 13, 2010 11:02 am

    I rewatch TV shows more than I reread probably, but I’ve finally given myself permission to reread after thinking I was wasting my life doing so.

    • December 15, 2010 6:56 pm

      I rewatch TV more than I reread to. I think I’ve seen every Bones episode except for the last season at least 3 or 4 times. lol

  22. December 13, 2010 11:09 am

    I almost never reread, the exception being Rule of the Bone by Russel Banks, which I reread every summer before school all through high school. In hindsight I’m not even sure I consider it that great a book, but I read it at the perfect time, when I was getting into punk and was the same age as the punk protagonist, Bone. It was fun measuring my growth against his throughout all my teenage years!

    If I had to choose between only new reading and rereading, though, it would definitely be new reading. No question about it. The question of what I might be missing out on is pressing enough already, and I have the choice!

    Movies, though, are a different story. I loooove rewatching movies that I like, endlessly.

    • December 15, 2010 6:57 pm

      That is fun! Rereading the Anne series is neat for me, since I remember looking up to her when she was eleven the first time I read it…now I’m even older than her when she’s at college! lol

      I rewatch my favourite movies and TV on DVD far more than I watch new movies/TV series. ;)

  23. December 13, 2010 11:42 am

    I don’t reread as much as I used to. I think I have reread two books this year and they were childrens books. I think I just feel I have too many new books that need my attention more.

    • December 15, 2010 6:57 pm

      That makes sense: it’s Hornby’s position. :)

  24. December 13, 2010 12:01 pm

    I also love rereading and it’s something I’ve been trying to do more of this year (looking through my list, I’ve reread 19 books this year). As you say, there’s so much pleasure and comfort in it. I’m kind of an anxious reader the first time through and want to be reassured that everything will be ok for the characters. Rereading helps me calm down and focus more on the details. I love rereading Austen, there’s always more I’d overlooked (for example, this year I noticed in P&P that she uses the phrase ‘super-excellent’!) before. Like you, I’ve come to love the cosy comic community of Emma more on each reread. Reading once through only shows you the surface of things.

    I’ve tried to branch out in my rereading this year past only Jane Austen and have gone back to Elizabeth Gaskell, J.K. Rowling, E.M. Forster, Frances Hodgson Burnett and more and loved and understood them all even more. My new rule is that I can’t truly call a book a favourite until I’ve reread it and so I’ve got a few more books still on my list to test next year! Sometimes I’ll read a book twice in one year too, rarely, but it does show me which books I really really enjoy (this year it was the first three Harry Potter books and Tea With Mr. Rochester, a Persephone by Frances Towers). The year I fell in love with my husband it was The English Patient!

    I also love the idea of rereading mysteries, something I’d never thought would be worthwhile before. And of course I’d choose to reread only — though maybe I’d better get reading some new books so I’ll have more to choose from!

    • December 15, 2010 6:59 pm

      That’s so funny regarding super-excellent! She’s so fond of dashes, isn’t she? :)

      Your rule for favourites sounds like a good one: I’m not sure I could be quite that rigorous! But I make sure I’ve read at least three books by an author before I call them a favourite.

  25. December 13, 2010 12:12 pm

    I hardly ever reread or rewatch movies and tv, mainly because I just feel there isn’t enough time. However, I would love to reread so many books, especially those I had to study at university as often I rushed through them – Middlemarch in 2 days and Midnight’s Children in one – and although I enjoyed they often needed to be read and studied within one week, and then moved onto the next book.
    When I was a child I reread constantly, and rewatched the same movies. When I reread it seems to be when something has gone wrong in life and it is a coping mechanism – My Girl as a teenager when a friend had died of cancer, and The Time Traveller’s Wife seems to come out whenever I’m feeling down about men and being single.
    Hmm…you have made me wonder about whether I should add rereads into my plans for next year. My last boyfriend thought it was bizarre that I never reread, he owned about 70-100 books and reread them over and over. When he lent me books he’d ask me where I was upto and know exactly what had happened before and in lots of detail.
    If I had to chose…. I think I’d go for rereads, as I’ve read tons and know that I’ve read lots of great things that would be perfect to rediscover.

    • December 14, 2010 12:38 pm

      ‘Middlemarch’ in 2 days, Katrina? Wow! Your reading speed is amazing!

    • December 15, 2010 7:00 pm

      That’s so interesting about your b/f’s reverse habits! Like you, I feel like I’ve read enough in the past that rereading would work. But I’m glad I can discover new books as well. ;)

      I really want to reread Middlemarch next year: I read it a few years ago now, and it’s become a bit too hazy!

  26. December 13, 2010 12:19 pm

    I love how you compare rereading to talking to a friend! Because really, isn’t that what our very favorite books are? Friends! I find that I haven’t been rereading as much as I would like (it’s always one of my readolutions), but I do always enjoy returning to the pages of a much-loved book. Sometimes you discover something you never knew lay between its covers, and other times you simply rediscover all of its wonderful secrets. Both are equally wonderful reasons to reread!

    • December 14, 2010 12:39 pm

      I liked your usage of the word ‘readolution’, Steph :)

    • December 15, 2010 7:01 pm

      As Vishy said, lol @ readolutions. :D I enjoy rereading books I didn’t get along with too…sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised! And if I’m not, I can abandon it with even less concern. ;)

  27. December 13, 2010 12:38 pm

    I would choose only rereading over never rereading again as well. I may miss out on a lot, but I love my old favorites. I also reread newer fiction and non-fiction as well though, so I’d have quite a bit of selection!

    • December 15, 2010 7:02 pm

      I’d definitely start rereading more contemporary fiction and nonfiction if I had to make that choice! And next year, I want to reread more in all categories. ;)

  28. December 13, 2010 1:45 pm

    HOW COULD I POSSIBLY CHOOSE??? First-time reading versus re-reading: good thing I’ll probably never have to make that call.

    Love this post and all you say about the process of re-reading. Some big eighteenth-century mucky-muck (I want to say it was Samuel Johnson? but I could be wrong) maintained that a person hasn’t really read a book until they’ve re-read it, for exactly the reasons you point out: it enables a reader to focus on the “how” instead of the “what.” Also because it lets a person more fully assimilate the work into their consciousness, so that it becomes a constant presence for them as they go about their day. I find this is particularly true of re-reading poetry, but certainly novels and non-fiction as well. Re-reading doesn’t make up that huge a percentage of my reading, but I find it extremely rewarding when I do it.

    • December 15, 2010 7:03 pm

      Lol! I’m glad I don’t have to actually make the choice, although I still wouldn’t hesitate. ;)

      Woohoo: Samuel Johnson agrees with me! ;) Also, I’m such a failure at reading poetry. *sigh* I need to work on that one of these days.

  29. December 13, 2010 1:46 pm

    I love rereading as well and would choose it over never reading a new book again. I remember I had a teacher in high school who always said, “There are too many books in the world to reread them,” but I feel like often you have to read a book more than once to truly know it. My favorite rereads are the Anne of Green Gables books and Little Women – reading them is like vising childhood friends!

    • December 15, 2010 7:04 pm

      Anne of Green Gables is one of my very favourites too! I haven’t reread Little Women in awhile, but I did love it as a child, so I should. :)

  30. December 13, 2010 2:43 pm

    Like others on this comment thread, I really enjoy your description of the various times through reading Emma. I’ve found that myself, usually with some classic novel that I’m tasting again to see if it’s more to my taste now.

    Everyone in my family tends to reread favorite books right before going to sleep.

    • December 15, 2010 7:04 pm

      That’s a lovely way to fall asleep. And I wouldn’t stay up past my bedtime because I ‘have to know’ what happens in the next chapter. ;)

  31. December 13, 2010 3:00 pm

    I see more clarity in the novel when I re-read them. It’s a shame I haven’t been able to re-read them. In the old days when books are scarce and precious, people re-read their books and classics over and over again and I think they gain a lot more insights than one who read in haste in one go.

    I would say I aim to read more widely and collecting some favourite books now, when I get a little older I want to re-read them and hopefully own one of those spiral bookcase you have in the picture up there!

    Thanks for the thoughtful posts! ;)

    • December 15, 2010 7:05 pm

      I want a spiral bookcase too! :) And I’m glad you enjoyed the post: thanks to the poll results, I’ll be doing the Bookish Musings posts quite regularly now. They’re fun to write!

  32. December 13, 2010 3:00 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve always enjoyed rereading – revisiting my favourite books is like coming home to something familar and comfortable. I still get emotional and caught up in the stories and care about the characters. Although I still reread when I get the chance, I have done so far far less since I began blogging two and a half years ago. I can only explain this by the sheer number of recommendations that I get from reading all your wonderful blogs, which means I can barely keep up with new titles let alone reread the old ones. Although I’ve had the chance to reread all these fabulous new books, I do miss rereading – I hope to get around to some soon! Keeping reviews of all the books I read has the added advantage of reminding me of which ones I want to read again!

    You are so right about getting more out of rereading books too. As we age and our tastes change, its not surprising that books will affect us differently. My favourites are ones where I get to appreciate a different character each time I read it! Great post Eva ;)

    • December 15, 2010 7:07 pm

      I get emotional too! I’m quite good at convincing myself that the story might turn out differently this time (in books, movies, and TV), so I get all caught up hoping/fearing the ending. lol

      All of the new-to-me titles book bloggers have introduced me to are a bit overwhelming too! I’m going to have to get back into the habit of rereading. And thanks for the compliment Mariel!

  33. December 13, 2010 3:06 pm

    I love to reread, and if I had to make a choice, I would go with rereading over reading only new to me authors. There’s such joy in re-discovering a character or a time and place in my life that is tied to a particular book. I couldn’t live, or read, without that feeling. This year I reread a few books but I need to go back and see what that number actually is.

    • December 15, 2010 7:08 pm

      I love how rereading brings back memories of where I was in earlier readings too!

  34. December 13, 2010 3:10 pm

    I adore rereading! There are so many works I have enjoyed tremendously that I would shun the notion of never being able to reread them. Every time I feel a bit down in the dumps (finished a bender of reading books off the banned/challenged list; many were upsetting) I pick up my favorite romance novel and take solace in the knowledge that all works out at the end. One book that is on my challenge list, however, kind of taunts me about rereading it – mostly because a friend of mine keeps telling me it’s amazing (I couldn’t stand “Catch -22″). Your feelings about “Emma” have pushed me into at least being curious about attempting Heller’s tome again. The classics I can see myself rereading would be “Lord of the Rings” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. So many layers to explore.

    • December 15, 2010 7:09 pm

      What a lovely way to pick yourself back up after several depressing books! I started rereading LOTR this year, although I got distracted in the middle of Two Towers (lol: the Frodo bits always drive me crazy). And I’ve never been able to complete Catch-22 either! I’ve gotten halfway through a couple times, but at this point I think I should accept it isn’t for me.

  35. December 13, 2010 3:36 pm

    I don’t reread very much. Too many books, too little time, you know. :) But there are some books that I do reread every now and then, f. ex. Mrs. Dalloway, Pride & Prejudice and L. M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily books. I’ve been thinking of rereading some Hercule Poirot stories and also Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books (I’ve reread the first, but not any of the others), but it may take some time before I get there. I do agree with you in that rereading your favorite books is like visiting old friends. :) Actually, I also have books that I’m a bit afraid to read again, what if I don’t like them as much as I did the first time around?

    Greetings,
    Tiina

    • December 15, 2010 7:10 pm

      I’m more of a Miss Marple girl, but I think you’ll enjoy rereading mysteries! :)

      And re: your fear, as I said to Teresa, I want to do another post on the Perils of Rereading. That would be my top one!

  36. December 13, 2010 4:08 pm

    I’m with you in that I’d rather reread for the rest of my life than never be able to reread again. Seriously good books have so much in them. I can’t imagine the sadness of never being able to reread some books (like BELOVED, CRIME AND PUNISHEMENT, etc.) again.

    I’ve never read Hornby but knowing that he doesn’t favor rereading makes me think I probably won’t….

    • December 15, 2010 7:10 pm

      I still love his books about reading, so you should give them a go one of these days! ;) I haven’t been able to connect with his fiction, though.

  37. December 13, 2010 4:10 pm

    I’m more likely to rewatch a movie or TV show than reread a book at present. The more I think about it, though, the more I wonder why that is. Part of it, I know, is time. There are so many potentially excellent books waiting to be read that it’s hard for me to turn back to one I’ve already read, even if I know it’s really good. But this makes sense to me:

    “I believe that part of my joy from rereading is based on what I really love in books: characters and marvelous writing. …upon revisiting a beloved book, I already know that I’m in good hands, that there aren’t going to be any nasty surprises to ruin things, and therefore I can become even more immersed in the reading experience.”

    I’m thinking maybe I’d like to give rereading a try. Now I just have to decide where to start!

    • December 15, 2010 7:11 pm

      Have fun deciding where to start! I think I’m going to kick off my rereading next year with The Woman in White. :D

  38. December 13, 2010 5:42 pm

    There are so many books I want to reread, but so many new ones I haven’t gotten to it’s a struggle; usually the new ones win out.

    On a different but related note, I just finished the second of Laurie King’s series, A Monstrous Regiment of Women last night! Can’t wait for more!

    • December 15, 2010 7:11 pm

      Isn’t the Mary Russell series great?! So glad you’re enjoying it. :)

      Lately, the new ones have been winning out with me too, but I want to work on that.

  39. December 13, 2010 6:07 pm

    I don’t re-read at all. Unless they are the novels that I’m teaching. Then I re-read them over and over again.

    But then you said something:

    “no matter how much I love it, I’m always aware that it has the potential to go wrong”

    That makes so much sense. And it’s so true. I’m currently reading The Book of Flying and I’m loving it, but I’m also reading it on high alert thinking, “please don’t fail me”.

    Also, I wasn’t too impressed with American Gods when I first read it. Perhaps it deserves a re-read. ;-)

    • December 15, 2010 7:12 pm

      That’s interesting! I’m curious about The Book of Flying: it’s been on my TBR list for awhile, but I’ve seen mixed reviews. :)

  40. December 13, 2010 6:58 pm

    I am a HUGE rereader. I love spending time with my old friends. Picking up a book from my childhood, or something I previously loved makes me happy immediately.

    I am not rereading as much as I used to, given the confines of my project, but I am revisiting some of my old favorite classics. I actually JUST finished Emma, so its funny you brought it up. I remembered not loving it as much the first time I read it, but on this reread, I was in love with Emma. I found her to be a sweet girl. And the scene with Knightley at the end had my heart going pitter-patter.

    I suppose you could say that we do pull more out of books the second, third, and tenth time we read them. And I know that I will always want to pull old reads off the shelf to visit with them again.

    • December 15, 2010 7:12 pm

      I swear, EVERYONE likes Emma more on the reread! lol

  41. December 13, 2010 7:14 pm

    OMG if I had to choose between only rereading and only reading new books, I would cry forever and never stop. I would cry forever, but I would pick only rereading. I can’t live without the books I’ve had since I was a little kid, and I can live without the books I haven’t read yet — obviously. :p

    I know I reread less now that I’m a book blogger. But largely because now I have ideas for new stuff to read, and before, I didn’t know what new stuff was out there that I would like. In the olden days it was all guesswork, and that was sad for me. I was having days where I was like OH NO I HAVE READ ALL THE GOOD BOOKS IN THE WORLD AAAAAAA.

    • December 15, 2010 7:14 pm

      I would cry forever too! Although, if I could expand it to ‘and read new books by authors I’ve previously read and loved’ my crying would diminish. lol

      I was so haphazard with my reading prior to book blogging: it was a crapshoot as to what I picked up! lol But once I found an author I liked, I read a lot more of their backlist, which I want to get back into the habit of doing. I worked on that this year, and I’ve definitely gotten better!

  42. December 13, 2010 7:18 pm

    Like you before I discovered book blogs I did a lot more rereading. I love rereading books and going back and discovering things I didn’t see before. I feel like a lot of books even though you know the story there is still so much more there to learn and read about. Unfortunately I haven’t done much re-reading this year. I think partly because I have so many un read books that I feel like I need to read that I feel bad about re-reading anything!

    • December 15, 2010 7:15 pm

      I understand that guilt: that’s why I need to work to overcome it! :)

  43. December 13, 2010 8:16 pm

    I’m with you, I love to reread. It’s absolutely like visiting an old friend – just feels so comfortable! But if you made me choose between never rereading and only rereading I really don’t know what I’d pick. Because there’s nothing like the feeling of picking up a brand new book either… decisions, decisions…

    • December 15, 2010 7:15 pm

      Isn’t it grand that we don’t have to choose? lol

  44. December 13, 2010 8:47 pm

    I am not a re-reader. The only books I have read twice are Pride and Prejudice and The Girl by Patricia Hermes. Nowadays, I feel like I will miss out on reading something new, discovering a new author if I re-read. But I do feel like reading my favorite books again and I think I will do it sometime.

    • December 15, 2010 7:15 pm

      Interesting! I haven’t heard of The Girl before. :)

  45. December 13, 2010 9:42 pm

    I’m out of the habit of re-reading, which I did a lot more than I was younger. I would like to re-read more, but given the [fortunately hypothetical] choice you pose to us, I would choose reading only new-to-me books. I would greatly miss my old favorites, but I would miss even more the feeling of discovering new stories and characters. I rewatch movies and tv shows all the time. Right now I’m rewatching the first season of LOST – I haven’t watched it since it first aired in 2004-2005.

    • December 15, 2010 7:16 pm

      Fair enough: I would miss that feeling of discovery given my choice! :) And yay for more movie/tv rewatchers. I used to feel like a crazy person!

  46. December 13, 2010 11:38 pm

    The only (adult) book I reread this year was “The Corrections,” and I loved taking it all in again. I hadn’t read the book in almost 10 years. Aside from “The Correction” and “Huck Finn,” it feels like the only times I’ve reread books in recent years was when I planned to teach them (and even then, I skimmed since I’d recently read the books). I plan to reread a lot more next year.

    • December 15, 2010 7:17 pm

      I’ve yet to read Foer’s fiction! (I read Eating Animals earlier this year.) It seems like quite a few of us want to reread more next year. :)

  47. December 14, 2010 3:42 am

    I enjoy a spot of rereading because more is revealed to me over the years. This is one of the aspects of my reading that I track carefully. Although I love discovering new things to read, I would never want to give up rereading entirely.

  48. December 14, 2010 9:29 am

    I wish I did more re-reading. But the mountain of books I want to read for the first time is too big. And I am already 41. I think retirement will be for re-reading.

    • December 15, 2010 7:17 pm

      That sounds like the best retirement plan! :)

  49. December 14, 2010 12:19 pm

    I’m rereading less and less as I get older. That’s not what I would have expected. While I would no choose only rereading over only new books, I do value re-reading.

    You’ve described my feelings about re-reading to a ‘t’. Each new reading brings a new book with it. The experience changes with age. Good books are like good wine in that sense. But bad books are like bad wine, too.

    • December 15, 2010 7:18 pm

      That’s not what I would have expected either! And lol @ your wine analogy; so true. And sometimes, the cheap wine that was perfectly fine when you were young now just embarrasses you. ;)

  50. December 14, 2010 1:24 pm

    That image is gorgeous! If I had to choose I would choose new books over re-reads. I’m glad I don’t have to choose though because I like to keep a good mix of new authors and re-reads.

    • December 15, 2010 7:18 pm

      Isn’t it? I was so happy to see it on Flckr! lol

  51. December 14, 2010 3:36 pm

    I am a huge proponent of rereading. I’ve always done it, for as long as I can remember. And like you, I always find something new about the characters and have different revelations each time I read the book. And I rewatch TV shows and movies too. I have read books like Rebecca by DuMaurier since I was a teenager and discover something new each and every time I read them. I used to like Maxim DeWinter. This last time I read the book I didn’t like him at all! I can’t imagine my reading life without my rereads!

    • December 15, 2010 7:18 pm

      I’m about due for a Rebecca reread; I wonder if I won’t like Maxim this time…I’ve always liked him in the past. :)

  52. December 14, 2010 4:48 pm

    Love this post! When I was younger I used to only re-read particular favourites, but when I started joining book groups and re-reading for their discussions, I realized that I also enjoyed re-reading contemporary fiction, even fiction that I had read fairly recently, because I understood how much I missed on a first pass. (Turns out I’m not paying attention much of the time! ::lol::) So that added another level to my re-reading. But, having said that, 2010 was very much about “fresh reads”, and I’ve already reserved a chunk of 2011 for mending my ways on that score. I’ve been rather disloyal to some of my “friends” and need to “make up” to them. ::hangs head::

    • December 15, 2010 7:19 pm

      I think I’d enjoy rereading contemporary fiction too: I’m not sure why I haven’t done more of it!

  53. December 14, 2010 7:26 pm

    I do re-watch tv quite a lot, but I’m less of a re-reader. I’ve been having a craving to re-read a lot lately though, especially the Harry Potter books since seeing the movie over Thanksgiving. I’m not sure I’d only re-read ever, but I do miss doing it.

    • December 15, 2010 7:19 pm

      Seeing movie previews sometimes makes me want to go back to the books too! :)

  54. Jillian permalink
    December 15, 2010 1:58 am

    Oh, I a thousand percent agree with you, Eva! I’d give up new books and new movies, if I had to, to preserve revisiting favorites. It’s like going home, or visiting a friend. I love revisiting the cozy books, especially. It’s ABSOLUTELY necessary.

  55. December 15, 2010 1:03 pm

    I love rereading and it’s definitely one of the consequences of book blogging that I rarely do so these days. My wishlist and TBR pile are now so huge that I find it incredibly difficult to justify fitting in old favorites, even when I know I adore them to bits. I reread books to a ridiculous extent as a child. I would sometimes just read the same book several times in a row (which brings back very peculiar memories when I now try and read it again!). I love picking up those extra details. I’m one of the few people who did reread books in English classes even if I’d read them before because I knew I’d get more out of them the second time. It’s the reason I’ve read Mrs Dalloway three times, and has firmly cemented it as one of my favorite books. This month I’m intending to revisit Jane Eyre – it’s been a few years – and next year I’m going to reread the entire Wheel of Time, then stick on the new ones, when the final volume finally comes out. And I almost always want to reread Harry Potter. So I haven’t given it up, but I do wish I felt more comfortable devoting time to those old favorites.

    I couldn’t decide on that last question. I would struggle with either option I think – so I’m glad no one’s forcing me! :)

    • December 15, 2010 7:20 pm

      I reread like that as a child too. Sometimes I just couldn’t bear for the book to be finished, so I’d have to start again at the beginning. lol

  56. December 15, 2010 8:37 pm

    I am a re-reader through and through! I really do love being able to step back into a book, even if this time it might not be as I remember it.

    But I do go through re-reading phases. Usually when I’m super bored with what’s being published recently, or I’m going through a book-finding slump, I re-read more. And I tend to re-read more in the fall and winter than I do in the spring and summer seasons. I actually have a group of books that I need to re-read once every couple years, that’s how much I love them.

  57. December 16, 2010 9:16 am

    I LOVE that you reread Christie’s mysteries as well! People are always giving me crap about how it doesn’t make any sense to reread mysteries since you know who did it.

    I used to reread more often before blogging, too, now I’m so often panicky about never getting to read so many amazing books that I tend to revisit favorites less, I should change that, it’s a good resolution :)

  58. December 16, 2010 3:28 pm

    I struggle with this. I always feel guilty when I reread, because I feel like I’m missing out on other books, but I love rereading! I reread my favorite constantly from grade school through college, then after that I felt like I wasn’t allowed to anymore because there were too many other books to read. I think I may have to enjoy a few of my favorites again in 2011.

    “Since I already know where the author is going, I can admire how s/he gets there.”

    This comment is brilliant. It perfectly sums up my feelings on a few books that I fell for the second time around. Sometimes I just needed to give them another chance,

  59. December 17, 2010 6:38 pm

    I used to reread books A LOT. Basically every summer break from school I’d read so much I’d have to start rereading books. And I really miss it. I don’t think I’ve reread a single book since I started book blogging–the pressure to read new stuff just gets to me.

  60. Jillian ♣ permalink
    October 5, 2011 5:33 pm

    Oh, my goodness. I feel exactly the same about rereading — movies and TV too. And your thoughts on Emma above make me teary. I do want to read that one — soon.

Trackbacks

  1. Of Blogiversaries and Reading Trends « A Striped Armchair
  2. The Unexpected Pleasures of Re-Reading |
  3. My Make Time to Reread Project (& a peek at my bookshelves) « A Striped Armchair

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