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TSS: Re-reading

When I was young, I was a frequent re-reader. I read my favourite books on a regular basis. This isn’t to say my parents didn’t buy me new books, because they did, especially when the Scholastic book orders arrived, but certainly they couldn’t afford to at the amount of books I actually read. I read nearly every day after I’d finished my homework, and so I needed to return to my old favourites over and over again. I re-read books so often that my dad used to boast I didn’t have a single book I hadn’t read twice.

I had a number of books that I read over and over again; the Little House on the Prairie books, for instance, I regularly read over again, as I did the two books I had that Julie Andrews wrote, especially The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. One of my favourites was Princess Nevermore┬áby Dian Curtis Regan, as was, of course, Anne of Green Gables. I adored the Dear America series and I’m confident I read the first few more than five times – history creeping up on me without me truly realising it.

But as I got older, and had a bit of my own money, I started to get more and more books. I started to have an unread pile all the time, instead of just shortly after the Scholastic book orders came in. I discovered longer, more complex books, that took me more than couple of hours to read, especially the fantasy doorstoppers with which I immediately fell in love. I still remember the vivid excitement that overtook me when Robert Jordan’s ninth Wheel of Time book graced the top of my then-single TBR pile, which I used to structure in order to give myself variety.

And now, I’ve reached a stage where I very rarely re-read anything. I have an entire bookcase of unread books staring at me every time I go downstairs. Re-reading makes me feel a bit guilty, especially if I have review copies lingering. But recently, as most of you probably know, all of the Harry Potter books became released in ebook format. Harry Potter is the one series that always calls to me for re-reading. It’s just that type of story, where settling down in the world each time makes the entire experience richer.

The other series that has been calling out recently is A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I have, at long last, started watching Game of Thrones, and am surprisingly completely caught up. The first book is the only one of the entire series I’ve ever read twice, and I found that, correspondingly, I knew what was going to happen. Now that we’re halfway through the second season, I honestly can’t remember what’s coming next or what really happens in the rest of the series, besides some vague feelings about various characters.

That, combined with actually re-reading Harry Potter now, makes me long to re-read everything else that I know I loved, so much so that I’ve actually designated a new bookcase (my fourth here in the UK) the shelves where the books I want to re-read the most will sit.

But even so, I think the piles of unread books will call to me more than the ones I’d like to read over again will; I simply hope that now and again I will made an exception, and allow myself to delve into another world.

How do you feel about re-reading? Do you do it often, wish you did it more, or think that there are too many books left in the world for you to read those you’d already experienced over again?

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15 comments to TSS: Re-reading

  • Kids do a lot or re-reading. I think it goes back to the bed time story, which was always one that had been told before. I re-read Watership Down at least five times in a row when I was in sixth grade. I re-read it again a few years ago and was disappointed. I re-read once in a while now, not that much, usually a book I’m teaching. If I don’t enjoy it, if I don’t get something new from it, then I generally don’t re-read it anymore.

  • Karen Margaret Morgan

    I am too “know it all” to re-read. I catch myself thinking, “oh, I’ve read this before” or “I already know what is going to happen”. I now, in my mature years, know that those are not reasons to not re-read and I am tempted to indulge; however, I too have shelves of books which are waiting for me to get to them and I just keep plugging along. Loving reading new pages, new words, and new experiences.

  • I do less re-reading now than I did as a kid – like you – but still do it. Often I will reread a series when the next book comes out – especially if years have gone by in between books, like with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I mostly reread my comfort books, though – and have found that I like doing that with audiobooks. I just finished rereading Anne of Green Gable’s for the umpteenth time – this time on audio – and it’s amazing how much my perspective has changed! Reading it as a young girl, I totally saw it as Anne’s story. Reading it as an almost-40 mother of 4, I kept being struck by Marilla’s transformation over the course of the book, and how it was the story of her becoming a mother. That’s the best thing about rereading – you find something a little different each time.

  • I do reread, but not very often. Usually when something is going on in my life and I want a cosy, cheer up read of something already familiar. I want to reread more, as so many books improve on the second reading and only really stay with you if you’ve read them a few times.

  • Re-reading is something I wish I forced myself to do more…you know that I forced myself to care about knowing books more deeply rather than knowing a lot of books if that makes sense.

  • I totally understand how you feel! I, too, used to be a frequent re-reader, but now that I have a ridiculous number of unread books, it definitely makes me feel guilty to re-read. I did bite the bullet and recently re-read The Hunger Games trilogy and I’m so glad I did. But I think I’ll hold off on other re-reads for awhile to try to make some kind of dent in the TBR pile. One of my favorite authors to re-read is Georgette Heyer. I never tire of her Regency romances!

  • I know exactly how you feel as a child I was constantly re-reading books. My favourites to re-read included The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, Just So Stories, and Miss Read’s Village School. As an adult though I rarely re-read anything as just like you I’m always thinking there are new books I need to be reading instead! I too started going through the Harry Potter books again but on audiobook but lost memento at the end of last year, really need to get back into this as it was a return to two of my loves from when I was younger.

  • I love rereading. I usually get a lot more out of a book after rereading it, and enjoy it more. A good story should reveal more of itself with ever reread, imho.

  • Kate

    I reread a lot when I was younger. I have owned multiple copies of Little Women, Jane Eyre, Ride the Wind, and The Thorn Birds because I devoured them so often. When I started college, I’d only reread during spring break, as a stress reliever. Then I started grad school and bought a Kindle and never reread.
    Now that I’m not reading for school anymore, old favorites are calling to me. Despite my ever-growing TBR pile (I live within walking distance of a bookstore, can you imagine??), I keep looking at A.S. Byatt’s Possession, John Crowley’s Little Big, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Harry Potter, with longing.

  • I am terrible with rereading, but I have been doing better… Right now I am rereading Graceling by Kristin Cashore before I read her latest book and yesterday I reread the first Cinderella Fables to refresh my memory before reading the new one. I am quite proud of myself…

    As to A Game of Thrones, I have to read the second book before watching the second season. For that reason we have only watched the first episode of season 1. I know the guy will want to continue and so I keep stalling until I read book 2. I read book 1, finally, last year sometime… I am a bit slow…

  • I was an avid re-reader when I was younger thanks to all the free time I had before being a grownup took over my schedule. I had my staples of books I’d re-read; Roger Zelazny’s The Amber Series (all ten of them), Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series, almost any Robert Aspirin book (especially the Myth series and the Phule series).

    I still re-read as much as time allows but with so many new books hitting my TBR pile and TBR lists it’s getting harder and harder to re-read my favorites when so many new ones are jumping up and down to get my attention.

  • I really really want to reread more often. I don’t feel guilty though – I just figure that if a book is really awesome then it has earned its reread, besides some books become clearer or make us think deeper the second time round. I hope you enjoy your rereads!

  • I re-read books when I was younger, but now that the books are a little thicker I feel like I don’t read quickly enough to re-read that often. It takes me a week to read what others can in a few hours, just because I have A.D.D. I can’t focus long enough and I get bored reading even when I am absorbed by a story. For this reason I have sooooo many books to read that I can’t quite make myself re-read many books. I do have about 3 or 4 books I have re-read since I became an adult, but they have to be favorites to make me want to jump back into a story instead of embarking on a brand new adventure.

  • once upon a time I reread a lot more than I do now. However, I have always had some shelves for those books I’ve read more than once and hope to read yet again. That being said I have found that when I seem to get into a reading slump or have a number of books in a row that I found I was not thrilled with.. the best thing to do is grab one of those “favorite” books that you KNOW you will enjoy and let that book (or those books) refresh your outlook on the reading slump. It works every time.

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