Friday, January 29, 2016

Why I Reread


When I was younger, I was rather shocked to discover that not everyone rereads books. *gasp* Before then I had always assumed that people, like me, reread as a matter of course. In my mind there really wasn’t much point in reading a book the first time if I wasn’t planning to read it again and again. 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot for the past few months as I’ve been taking the time to evaluate what I want my reading life to look like. There are so many books out there, it would be impossible to read them all—even once—before dying of old age. (Unless you’re Cait. Apparently she’s immortal now, and I would love to know how she worked that one out because it would totally solve the majority of my bookish problems.) All that to say, I understand those who would rather experience as many new stories as possible without spending valuable time on rereading. Not everyone is wired to think and process in the same way and, for some people, one encounter with any given novel is sufficient for them. 

So I’m not here to make the case for why you’re doing it wrong if you don’t reread. Your reading life is your personal territory, and I don’t want to infringe on it. But I would like to explain why I, personally, see great value in rereading. And who knows, you might even find some reasons that appeal to you and cause you to rethink your decision. Even if you never do reread, though, I promise I’ll still be your friend. 

Probably. 

Anyway, here goes: 


Rereading helps your memory. Now, this is by no means a scientific fact; I’m only speaking from personal experience here. But I’ve found that, when I go through long stretches where I only read new books, both my short term and long term memory suffer significantly. While I’m not known for having an elephant’s memory, I usually have good recall, so when I noticed this pattern I went on a rereading binge as an experiment of sorts. Sure enough, as I re-experienced familiar stories, old thoughts and recollections resurfaced and my memory banks became more accessible. (Yes, I realize I’m not a computer—no, I won’t stop talking like one.) Conclusion: It doesn’t hurt to return to familiar bookish stomping grounds every now and then before resuming your exploration of unchartered territories. 


Rereading helps rekindle your love of books. Sometimes I go through stretches where I just don’t feel like reading. I went through a few bouts of that last year, and I’ve been in one for the past week. Reading slumps happen. Often the trick to getting back into the swing of things, at least for me, is to return to familiar, nostalgic reading territory. It’s good to be reminded from time to time why I fell in love with reading in the first place. Another factor in this equation is that reading slumps can happen when you’ve read a load of new but not wonderful books. It can be hard to remember why you love reading when you spend your time consuming a seemingly never-ending plate of disappointment drizzled with lame sauce (yes, I did just say that—deal.) If that’s the case, it could be worthwhile to fall back on the books you know won’t ever let you down. After all, the books that stick with you stick with you for a reason, and they may get you back on track. 


Rereading helps you cement ideas and find new details. Especially if you’re a decently fast reader like me, you’re bound to miss some stuff. This is actually why I’ve slowed down my reading a little over the past few years. There have been times when I’ve found something new and surprising in a book I’d read five or six times before, and it’s one of the most exciting feelings ever. Suddenly an old story feels fresh again—deeper and more meaningful and so worth that second glance. Beyond that, time can change your perspective and give you new insights so it’s almost as if the stories you love are changing as you change and maturing as you mature. Granted, sometimes you’ll discover that a book you thought was deep and meaningful is really just a pile of cheap candy with sugar-coated-truth sprinkles on top, which can be a let down. But I, at least, would like to know that the books I love can stand up to my scrutiny. It makes the stuff that does stick with me even more valuable. 


Rereading can help you understand your emotions and your psyche better. I’ll admit, there was a dark period in my life where I hated MOCKINGJAY with a fiery passion. The first time I read it, I was about thirteen years old, and it left me feeling so rattled and disappointed I didn’t know how to process all the negative emotions running through my overheated little brain. I had loved THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE beyond human expression, and I was frustrated with the perceived turn the series had taken. So after that, every time I reread the first two books, I skipped the last one which is very out of character for me. If I’m going to reread the first and second books in a trilogy, I’m going to reread the entire thing—I just am. Eventually, I convinced myself to rip off the mental bandaid and re-experience MOCKINGJAY in hopes of figuring out what had bothered me so much. Wonder of wonders, I came away loving it because I was finally able to understand what nerve it had touched, and this time I could appreciate why I had related to Katniss and her struggles on such a deep level. In figuring out why it had bothered me, I was able to delve further into my own psyche. That’s just one example; my discussions of A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS are another example of what I’m talking about here. 



I could extol the virtues of rereading for a thousand more words or so, at which point probably all of you would have wandered off to buy coffee or “Down with Liz—Cait for World Ruler” tee-shirts. Fortunately Heather @ Sometimes I’m a Story has already written her own lovely post on the subject, so I’ll just drop that link here instead. You're welcome. 

To be perfectly honest, my reasons for writing this post are abominably selfish. As I mentioned before, yes, I reread 48 books last year, but I also read 70 new ones. And I felt myself more drawn/slightly obligated to those because I hadn’t read them yet. I also felt a smidge guilty every time I went back and reread something when there were still new bookish delicacies to be devoured. I don’t want to feel bad about rereading stories I love while new ones sit untouched on my shelves for a time. They will have their day, most likely. But this year I want to focus on fully enjoying everything I’m reading, new or not. Listing these reasons for rereading is just another exercise in convincing my brain it’s okay to take a nostalgia tour from time to time. Convincing you of my viewpoint would only be a lovely side effect. Either way I win. *evil laugh* 



Well, that’s it little coffee beans. What about you—do you reread? Why or why not? Is there anything else you feel I should have added to my list?

32 comments:

  1. I couldn't believe it when I found out that some people don't reread. LIKE WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE??? For me, reading a book is like meeting a new friend at summer camp. Rereading is returning to the same camp the next year and getting to hang out with them all over again. You learn new things about your friend, you have new adventures and you have a better relationship with them at the end. Not rereading is like never going back to that specific summer camp. It would make me very sad.

    I've never really thought about the memory thing, before. I guess I haven't ever been on that stretch of reading new books for long enough to see that; I always have to go back and reread an old book as a break. It's the same thing with movies. I will be rewatching "Horton Hears a Who" until the day I die, and that's the end of the story.

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    1. I KNOW EXACTLY. My brain died a little. I mean, I understand the reasoning behind it now, even though I don't fully agree. But my younger self had no clue why it was worth it to even read it a first time if you weren't going to come back to it. Just, what even? I love your analogy--it's exactly how I feel. The books I love are friends for life--I would never just abandon them. That would be negligence. *hugs books* *comforts them* I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU MY LOVELIES NEVER EVER. *sniffles*

      It may not even be applicable to most people. And there could have been other factors involved that skewed my experiment and my rereading hypothesis could just be me attempting to sound smart. *nods knowingly* Rereading old books definitely makes for a good break. I've got several new ones I'm still plowing through, but then I plan to take a good long rereading break. *nods* I agree on the movies bit--and on listening to music as well. I actually almost mentioned those, but then changed my mind last minute, so I'm glad you brought them up. "Horton Hears a Who" is definitely worth rematching. *nods*

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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  2. I'm begining to sloooowly find a love for rereading. Like usually I'm all "WHY WOULD I REREAD WHEN I COULD READ SOMETHING NEW??!" and I still sort of stand by that? But last year I started reading Stiefvater books and then this year I basically started with the Raven Boys audio and I AM IN LOVE (obviously). AGAIN. :') So it's renewed my faith in rereading.

    I am immortal though. I'm glad you've noticed. The trick is my level of fabulousness? It's very hard to attain. *flips hair majestically*

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    1. *cheers you on* *waves pom-poms* IT IS SO HARD TO NOT READ ALL THE SHINY NEW BOOKS. They just stare at me from my shelves and my Goodreads TBR with that forlorn look like they're a bunch of neglected puppies. *sniffles* *wipes tear* BUT I AM SO PROUD OF YOU CAIT, WELCOME TO THE REREADING CLUB YOU CAN BRING CAKE AND I WILL SUPPLY COFFEE.

      You are--and you're welcome. *nods* I figured as much. That must mean I'm immortal too. *gets smacked in the face by your hair flip*

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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  3. I'm not much of a re-reader, although I suppose that's changing. There's so many books I want to read, good or bad. But also books I know I love?? The dilemma is real.

    Arg, fast reader problems. I'm scared of missing things too, but if I really, really love a book I'll probably re-read it at some point. So I don't tend to dwell on it too much.

    Re-reading only takes up about 5% of my reading life, and I'm okay with that. It's awesome however you look at it, and I support it, even if I don't participate in it a whole lot :)

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    1. *sad face* But hey, I totally understand the need to read ALL THE NEW BOOKS OF EVER. They are tempting--believe me, I struggle to justify rereading when there are so many unread books just waiting for me. *nods* The dilemma is real.

      I know, right? *face palm* I sometimes miss whole paragraphs, and it's fun to find stuff I've overlooked, but also a little embarrassing. My brain gets distracted on bunny trails every now and then while my eyes keep reading, and I don't always catch everything. *hangs head* But yes, like you, I console myself with the knowledge that I will probably be rereading anyway. It definitely helps give me more incentive.

      I'm glad you've found a balance that works for you! :) And I appreciate your support. *grins*

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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  4. I LOVE rereading, but I never seem to get around to it. I think I only reread three books last year. There's books that I've been meaning to reread forever, but I always tell myself I'll do it later, and then it never happens. Sometimes, I just flip through old books until I find the specific scenes I want to reread. That works in the short-term, but then I don't actually want to reread the whole thing later. I think I'll be rereading a LOT more this year, though! Hopefully.

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    1. I feel this way so often. :P I so WANT to reread all the things, and I spend a good deal of the time when I'm not reading thinking about all the books that I would love to reread, but then I cut myself shorter than I would like. I struggle with putting books off as well. I even have books on my shelves that I've owned for years and never read, like, what even am I doing with my life? But hey, three rereads is better than none! :D I'll do the same thing though--I used to eat up so much time out of my day flipping through all the books I love and reading favorite passages, like you. I haven't let myself do that so much lately because I want to spend more time reading and rereading in full, but it's rather calming to page through the books I love and sample them again. I struggle with insomnia, and I used to have way more trouble with it, so sometimes spending half an hour paging through my books and stroking the spines and thinking about the characters and the worlds was the only way I could relax enough to sleep. :P

      Anyway, thanks so much for commenting! :)

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  5. Feeling guilty about rereading is definitely something I struggle with. So many review copies! BUt taking that time to reread a favourite DOES help re-kindle the love, so it's definitely worth it for me :D

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    1. It seems to be a pretty common problem. :P Add to that the feeling of needing to read review copies in good time, and yeah, I can see why you would struggle to justify rereading. :) I guess it's just a matter of enjoying rereading as time permits, and not letting yourself feel guilty either way. *nods sagely*

      Thanks for commenting! :D

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    1. I appreciate the offer, but I'm not interested in psychic spells. :)

      Delete
  7. Re-reading is my absolute favoriteeee. I learn so much going through stories again, and it's like visiting old friends. <3

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    1. *happy dance* *gives you coffee beans* I feel exactly the same way. *nods* ALL THE LOVE.

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  8. "Rereading helps rekindle your love of books". THIS. This so much. I always find that rereading old favourites rekindles my love for reading. Plus there' something comforting about picking up a book you've read and loved before and dipping back into the story. I tend to reread more than read new books when I'm tired or sick, and I want something that I know I'll love and be able to read easily. Plus, if you've read an amazing book and loved it, why on earth wouldn't you want to read it again? It's inconceivable!

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    1. Aww, thank you. :D It's pretty much my surefire method of getting out of a reading slump--that and just forcing myself to get reading again. Rereading books is like putting on shoes you've worn so much they feet your feet perfectly. *nods sagely* But it's funny because I tend to be exactly the opposite when I'm sick. :P I'm not exactly sure. Maybe I've never tried rereading to see if it would help even more? I should keep that in mind. And that really is the question of the hour. WHY WOULD YOU ABANDON THE STORIES YOU LOVE? Thoroughly inconceivable. *sobs*

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  9. Rereading is so important! If only rereads counted in GR challenges I would be WAY ahead. The problem is I can't even game the system because I only reread like a few pages at random? The problem with rereading is that I fall in love so much with the books that I end up reading fanfic, which AGAIN not counted in GR challenges. Basically rereads are the bane of GR but I'm not giving them up!

    PS: Pretty sure coffee and cake complement each other, so I think there can be a compromise on the T-shirt. :P

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    1. It is! GR frustrates me so much for that very reason. I just change the date on each reread so it counts for my current year, but then of course it takes away from last year's challenge, and gah. It bugs me. I'm just going to keep track of all my completed challenges on my GR profile so my messed-up stats won't confuse people. *nods* But it does bother me probably a great deal more than it should. I do that as well--I like to pull well-loved books off my shelf and then flip through them, read random bits, and then put them back. It's so cozy to spend half an hour or so poking through my bookshelf and reminding myself of all my old loves. I don't read much fanfic, but I totally understand where that would be hugely frustrating in terms of GR not counting it. I know I've wished I could count the books I beta read for people. *shakes head sadly* *sighs*

      You are a most excellent diplomat. I shall hire you for my cause (if you are willing) and pay you in coffee beans and espresso shots. Also you can design the T-shirt. :D

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  10. OMG YES I FEEL YOU. I hated Mockingjay with the darkest depths of my heart, and I remember being really disappointed with the ending. I actually...love Peeta now?? I'm surprised myself. I get you talking about finding new details every time you reread the series though - that's exactly what happens everytime I pick up Lemony Snicket's books again. Lovely discussion, Liz <3

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    1. YOU UNDERSTAND, I'M SO HAPPY. I was so upset with that ending, oh my goodness, I can still remember exactly how enraged/disappointed/awful I felt. I was so angry about what Suzanne Collins did to Peeta. But now I am so happy with that book I would build a fort out of a thousand copies of it if I could. I definitely picked up so many more details when I reread ASOUE. It reminded me, once more, of why rereading is so important for appreciating stories on a deeper level. Aww, thank you Nirvana! <3

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  11. You're right! I feel guilty to reread books ever since I became a book blogger because I read so few books that I want the ones I DO read to at least count for a post =P
    But I've decided to scrap that idea- I read for me, not for my blog, right? I'll be reading the Chaos Walking series once I get it back from my sister, who I lent it to.
    I love to reread, when I was younger there were certain books (a book, actually) that I read front to back three times, opening to the first page immediately after I finished it. It was a first in series. A few years ago I reread the series again and had completely different feelings on it!

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    1. I can relate to that. I especially struggled with feeling the need to read only for my blog. But I've felt a little freer on that count lately because I do want to review a lot of the books I'm rereading. :P
      Right! Book blogging isn't as fulfilling or fun if it's taking away from reading pleasure (which is why I sometimes take a break from reviewing books and review a movie or show instead.) I'll be rereading the Chaos Walking series this year too! :)
      I would do that with certain books when I was younger as well, especially Inkheart. But it is interesting how feelings change over time.

      Thanks for commenting!

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  12. I like rereading though I read so slowly that I mostly read new. I really want to reread the Hunger Games series. Mockingjay was certainly a tough book, but man the movies ... *puts hand on heart* The only way I can describe Mockingjay Part 2 is "perfection." It's so so good.

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. I totally understand that. You can only read so many books and you want to prioritize new ones--that makes perfect sense. But I also think that you may get more out of books the first time than faster readers do. :D

      *sobs because Mockingjay is cruel and brilliant and wonderful* I haven't seen Part 2 yet, but I really need to. :)

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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    2. I hope so. That'd be one benefit. XD

      You need to. It will hurt your soul, but it's gorgeous.

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    3. :D

      *braces self for all the pain* That's what I'm hoping for. :)

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  13. Hehe, nice post! Interestingly enough, even though I don't reread often, it is how I determine which books to buy. See, I get most of my books from the library, so if I like a story enough that I know I'll want to reread it, that's when I actually go out and buy a copy for myself (or ask people to buy it for me, because up until recently, I was a sadly broke bookworm). So yeah. Even though I don't do it often (I am one of those bookworms who wants to read ALL THE BOOKS), rereading is pretty cool. :)


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

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    1. Aww, thank you! I used to do that too. I don't library as much now, but I'm still trying to catch up on buying all the books I read from the library and loved. :P (And yeah, it stinks to be a broke bookworm.) But I've also gotten into buying a bunch of new-to-me books as well lately, because it bothers me to read a book and love it but not own it. :P (I'm going to be written a post about that soon, I think.) Rereading is great! (And I totally understand the desire to read all the books.) :D

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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  14. I adore rereading so much and I'm like the last person to comment on this. XD WHAT AM I EVEN DOING? I have to say now, though, that rereads are definitely one of my favorite ways to rekindle a love of reading. Most of the books I run into are pretty mediocre and so rereading just gets me all inspired again. It makes me so happy!

    (Also, thanks for throwing my post under the bus, ha.)

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    1. :P Better late than never! BUT SERIOUSLY HEATHER, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? :P I would say the same for me. I get antsy reading only new books and I have to go back and read old stuff to remind myself why I really love reading. Also, I have the same problem--so many books I read aren't fabulous, and I want to read the books that impress me. :) I'm glad it makes you happy. :D

      Oh, you're welcome. Any time. :P

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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  15. Exactly! But then again, I have a few number of books so I'm used to re-reading. HOW CAN YOU NOT RE-READ a glorious book you loved? Okay, I guess if you have an infinite to be read list, you might not have an opportunity. But you need to try it once in a while... once in a while.

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    1. Yeah, I know when I had much fewer books, I spent a significantly larger portion of my time rereading, which was not at all a bad thing. :) I've never understood how people can love a book yet be content to read it only once.

      Thank you for commenting! :)

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