I’m a hardcore re-reader and re-watcher and 99.9% of the time order exactly the same thing at restaurants and coffee shops and ice-cream parlors because I like repeating fantastic experiences. Well-loved books and movies (and sandwiches) are like old friends. You can always count on them to look and feel (and taste) the same, to move you in the same ways.

I’ve been re-reading Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series over the last week or so, and while, admittedly, nothing is quite like the first time through, with all those wonderful startling revelations and aha! moments, I still very, very much enjoyed them. In fact they were still eliciting audible reactions from me, to the point where my roommate looked up from her important doctoral studies to remark, “You do realize you’ve read that before.” 🙂

Another reason I re-read is that if I don’t read a book at least twice, details tend to fade, and I’m left only with vague impressions of I liked it or didn’t like it, which isn’t ultimately very useful. And some books stand up to multiple readings more than others; some I find kind of “meh” on a second read, some I find as amazing as I remembered, and some—like, for example, the Attolia series—you almost have to read more than once to soak up all the awesome and intricate things that are going on.

And then there’s mood to consider. As much as I love them, sometimes I’m simply not in the mood to adventure into a brand new book and unknown territory. There’s a certain amount of comfort in knowing exactly what’s coming and looking forward to parts I already have completely memorized and revisiting beloved characters and just experiencing the story again.

Man, now I want to go re-read Lord of the Rings. It’s been a few years…

What about you? Are you a habitual re-reader?

5 thoughts on “Re-reading

  1. I am also a rereader. In fact it was many years before I realised some people DON'T reread. For me, it just sort of stands to reason that if a book was excellent the first time around, it'll be just as good the second time, even in a different way. I'll reread for worldbuilding, characterisation, arcs, moods, the simple joy of it, to pick up previously-missed details, prepare for the next book in a series … I have no idea how many times I've reread some of my favourites.

    I think that if I am ever so lucky as to get books published, I could get no greater compliment from a reader than “I loved your book so much I've read it over and over”. 🙂

  2. I reread with a vengeance. I reread my favorite series (the Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop) whenever I need comfort. But, I also reread many other favorites. I treat really good books like comfort food. It's a slightly guilty pleasure, because I know that there are so many good books out there waiting to be read the first time, but still, it is sometimes necessary. Also, I find it very inspiring for my own writing. Generally any time I reread an old favorite I come out of it with a renewed desire to produce a book that I love as much as the ones I go back to over and over. Or, even better, create something that someone else might go back to.

    I concur with Emily as well. The highest praise from a reader would be that they've read the book more than once. 🙂

  3. Weird, I thought I had commented on this! I wanted to say that, yes, I am definitely a rereader!!! I love rereading (probably even more than rewatching, though there are a few movies I can watch over and over and never get tired of them). Recently a friend of mine (who is in her late 20s) posted on facebook that she was rereading a book for the first time. Ever. I almost had a heart attack. I could not imagine such a thing. I reread The Lord of the Rings every year during my teens. Other favorite rereads: Anything by C.S. Lewis, Dianna Wynne Jones, or Madeleine L'Engle. Oh! Or Jane Austen! (Of course.) Also, Harry Potter. Those are seriously addictive. There are some Newbery winners (like Johnny Tremain and Number the Stars) that I've been rereading since I was eight. They just never get old.

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