I started thinking about the topic of re-reading this week in response to today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read. I re-read books A LOT, and the prompt made me wonder: Are there any books that I’d absolutely rule out when it comes to re-reading? Sure, there are the books that I disliked or felt were only meh reads, but books I loved?
Never say never.
I can’t come up with a list that fits the category, because if I loved a book once, why wouldn’t I love it again?
So I started thinking about what I choose to re-read, and when, and pretty soon, had my own nifty little list going. Without further ado, here are my scattered reasons for why I re-read books:
Visiting old friends: Sometimes, we readers get a wee bit attached to our beloved characters. Or obsessed. Whatever. I love going back and re-reading certain books, because after enough times, it’s like spending time with family or friends who’ve been a part of my life for years and years.
Nostalgia: Thinking back to childhood or a particular era in my life, I may choose to re-read a book that brought me joy at a certain point, or that I associate strongly with events happening at the time I was reading. Or sometimes, it’s just to re-experience the wonder of a lovely story that once upon a time made me smile.
Comfort food: At times of stress, sadness, or even boredom, there’s nothing like curling up with a book that’s guaranteed to make me feel snug and content. (Lookin’ at you, Harry Potter!)
To honor someone special: There are certain books I associate with certain people — and particularly for people I haven’t seen in a long time, or even more so, those no longer with us, sometimes I’ll re-read a book because I know it was special to someone I care about, and reading their special book makes me feel closer to them.
The feels: A book that made me swoon, a book that made me cry, even a book that made me angry — if it brought out particularly strong feelings in me, I may choose to re-read it when I’m in the mood to feel that way again.
A refresher: This has been a biggie for me lately. When a sequel or a new installment in an ongoing series comes out, chances are (if I’m particularly invested) that I’ll go back and re-read the previous book, so all the details and characters and plot points will be sharp in my fuzzy brain.
A second chance: Do you ever reconsider books that you’d already tried and disliked? This one doesn’t happen all that often for me, but occasionally I’ll realize that maybe I gave up on a book too soon, or allowed a bad mood or real-life distractions to keep me from enjoying a book I might otherwise have liked. So every once in a while, I’ll decide to give a book a new chance to impress me… and I’ve actually had some good results!
Jogging the memory: Okay, yes, I’m the first to admit that my brain just doesn’t keep data forever… and so some of the books that I know I read and loved years ago are nothing but fond feelings and a general sense of storyline for me at this point. If I remember loving a book but don’t remember more than that, maybe it’s time for a re-read!
Plot twists: This one is super rare, but there have been several books in my reading life that smacked me with such mind-boggling plot twists that I had to read them all over again, just to see if the pieces really do add up or to sort out the complicated threads of the story.
New meaning: There are some books that I swear I could read over and over and over again, but each time, there’s some new enjoyment or nuance or hidden connection to discover.
Do you re-read? If so, why?
Clearly, I’m a fan of re-reading… after all, re-reading a favorite book is like giving it a big hug that lasts for hours!
18 thoughts on “Why I re-read”
I don’t reread nearly as much as I’d like to, mainly down to my TBR! I do like to reread for nostalgia though. 🙂 Some books just hold such fond memories.
I know, the TBR lists can be overwhelming! Sometimes it’s a real toss-up between rereading something I’m dying to revisit and tackling all the new books still waiting for me.
Really nice post!! I will totally agree with you on Harry Potter ☺️ I will never get tired of reading those books
I rarely re-read (maybe three re-reads a year??) but when I do it’s to get out of a rut or for comfort reading.
Interestingly, there are a handful of books I’ve been meaning to reread because they made a big impression the first time (such as We Need to Talk About Kevin) but I haven’t… not sure why. Perhaps I don’t actually want to spoil that first experience.
The saddest book I’ve read is Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett. I met the author a few years ago and told her it was the saddest book and that I was working up to a re-read. She looked at me for a few moments and then said “Never go back.”
That’s so interesting that an author would advise against re-reading! Not quite sure what to make of that, actually. Regarding spoiling the first experience, that is definitely a consideration. There’s nothing like the first time for certain books, and I sometimes envy those who get to experience a favorite of mine when it’s new to them.
I wondered if the author wanted to retain the title of ‘saddest book I’ve ever read’ and figured a re-read would change that?!
I also feel envious about the first read if certain books 😂
Tolkien, Conan Doyle, Terry Pratchett and Dashell Hammet are my faves.
I like your hug analogy.
I’d like to re-read Tolkien — I reread The Hobbit recently, and probably am overdue for a re-read of the LOTR trilogy… although perhaps I should read some of his other works for the first time before re-reading familiar books. I haven’t read any Pratchett yet (except for Good Omens), and I really need to do something about that!
I usually reserve my reread for books I’ve loved, but I recently picked up a book I felt pretty meh about because I had the sequel and I wanted to at least give it a shot and it turns out that I ended up enjoying the meh book so much more this time around.
I’ve had that experience as well. Sometimes, my mood and the timing affect my impressions of a book more than I’d like to admit.
I’m a huge fan of rereading also, for many of the same reasons as you, but largely for the comfort factor. There are some books I couldn’t imagine not being able to reread again, but some that I read once and know I’ll never reread – these are largely fast paced thrillers and such, you know books just won’t be the same on returning as you already know a large number of the plot points.
Thanks so much! I agree about thrillers — there are certain books that I just wouldn’t feel the need to reread, since so much is about how the mystery will be resolved, and once I know, I know!
Oh my goodness! My friends ask me all the time why I re-read books, but I can never really explain it very well. You have literally just put all my thoughts into words in this post. I love it!
Aw, thanks! I guess there are people who reread, and people who don’t! My husband doesn’t get why I reread — he’s definitely of the belief that books are to be read once, and then move on!
Same with my best friend, she loves books but absolutely refuses to reread. I’m the exact opposite!
I like your take on this week’s theme. I have been considering reading some of my much older reads recently – just to see if I still feel the same. You change yourself after all so it would make an interesting experiment. If I could make myself some more time now I’d be sorted.
Time is always the issue, isn’t it? I tend to do a lot of my rereads via audiobook, so then I can balance that with my print reading time, which tends to be new-to-me books.