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 by 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?